The Pinnacles – Western Australia.
The Pinnacles – Rising out of the sandy desert like sentinels from another world, the famous Pinnacles of Nambung National Park make for one of Australia’s most unusual and awe-inspiring landscapes. These amazing limestone pillars, some standing as high as five metres tall, were formed approximately 25,000 to 30,000 years ago after the sea receded and left deposits of sea shells on the desert plains. Over time, coastal winds removed the surrounding sand, leaving the ‘Pinnacles’ exposed for our viewing pleasure.
Attracting over 190,000 visitors each year, Nambung National Park covers almost 17,500 hectares and is located about 200 kilometres north of Perth on Western Australia’s stunning Coral Coast. The Pinnacles are best viewed via the scenic drive (entry is $11 per light vehicle at time of writing) and are a particularly magnificent sight in the glow of the setting or rising sun. The little Painted Desert and unusual white dunes can also be viewed from the Pinnacles Lookout, a short walk from the carpark. The Park is also a favourite hangout for local emus and kangaroos, and is celebrated for putting on an amazing wildflower show in spring.
The Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre
Located within the Park, the Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre features interpretative displays focused on the region’s unique flora and fauna, general Department of Environment and Conservation information, and a retail shop offering a range of souvenirs and gifts. There is also information about other national parks and nature reserves in Western Australia, including the stunning Ningaloo Reef, home of the Whale Shark swimming experience and a host of other amazing snorkelling and diving spots.
Conventional two wheel drive vehicles can access Nambung National Park by road, just 17 kilometres south of the laidback crayfishing village of Cervantes. With its white sandy beaches, spectacular turquoise waters bursting with marine life, and offshore islands and reefs, Cervantes is a perfect playground for swimming, snorkelling, diving, boating and fishing. The windsurfing and traditional surfing are also first rate and you might even see a bottlenose dolphin or sea lion swimming offshore (to swim with the friendly sea lions head a bit further north to Jurien Bay or Green Head and jump on an organised tour). For Cervantes best fishing visit Hangover Bay and Kangaroo Point, or from November to June head to the jetties to get an eyeful of the famous West Australian rock lobster.
Alternatively, visitors travelling from Perth can take the new Indian Ocean Drive which winds its way from the sandboarding and surfing hotspot Lancelin to Cervantes, with unbelievable coastal scenery along the way.
Lake Thetis Stromatolites
For another other-worldy nature experience on your journey to the Pinnacles, visit Lake Thetis and the stromatolites. One of only five stromatolite locations in Western Australia, these ‘living fossil’ formations are the oldest known organisms on Earth. Some fossil remains have been dated as being over 3.6 billion years old. Lake Thetis is located only a few minutes drive to the centre of Cervantes.