Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve
Wauchope's great attraction is the 1828 hectare Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve which lies on either side of the Stuart Highway some 10 km north of the settlement.
It is widely accepted that the 'Marbles', which are roughly egg-shaped, were considered by the local Aborigines to have been eggs laid by the Rainbow Serpent during the Dreamtime.
They are, by any measure, a remarkable geological formation having been formed by spheroidal weathering. Signs along the pathways describe how the boulders were formed by a combination of mechanical weathering (which cracked the rocks) and chemical weathering (which flaked the surface off). One sign succinctly explains the process: 'These boulders were originally part of a solid mass of coarse grained granite which formed deep within the earth's surface about 1640 million years ago. Erosion has since stripped away the overlying material and weathering processes have shaped the forms you see here today. As the molten magma cooled and hardened to form granite the mass shrank and cracked and these cracks known as joints effectively split the granite body into a series of tight fitting blocks.'
The enormous daily and annual temperature ranges in the harsh desert landscape - from sub-zero temperatures at night to over 40�C during the day - mean that the erosive processes are still very much at work.
Like Uluru, the boulders are seen at their best at sunset when the rays of the setting sun catch the red iron minerals which have covered the rocks. The stones have the appearance of being dumped upon the landscape with some boulders sitting precariously on the tops of others.
The Conservation Reserve is alive with unusual desert wildlife and the observant visitor may spot the mud nests of the Fairy Martin, the Pygmy Spiny-tailed Goanna, and Zebra finches. The ghost gums which grow in the crevices between the rocks are particularly beautiful. For more information check out: http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/parks/find/devilsmarbles.html