As I stare at the landscape below, I forget for a moment where I am. The landscape is quite surreal and unlike any that we have passed on our drive here. We are at the Pinnacles in Western Australia’s Nambung National Park, a two hour, two hundred kilometre drive north of Perth.
In this corner of the park, the landscape is unusual…even alien. Protruding pillars dot the barren landscape whilst the ever changing light adds another dimension.
What are the Pinnacles?
The Pinnacles are limestone pillars, some up to five metres in height that are believed to have been formed underground, possibly up to 500,000 years ago. Researchers are not sure if they have remained buried for all of this time or if they have been exposed and then reburied. There is some evidence that they were exposed 6000 years ago and reburied until they were found over two hundred years ago.
The Pinnacles Discovery Centre
At the Pinnacles Discovery Centre, you can learn about the different theories behind their formation. There are two schools of thought as to how they were formed.
“Some believe that the limestone between the pinnacles was leached away more rapidly in areas where plant roots increased the acidity of the soil; others believe that the pinnacles formed around roots and trunks of buried trees.
In both theories the pinnacles were formed beneath the ground from the varied influence of acidic water as it moved through the soil. When vegetation was removed the sand was blown away. The pinnacles were then sculptured further by wind rain and sun into what we see today”
*(Information from the Department of Environment and Conservation brochure “Parks of the Turquoise Coast”)
How to see the Pinnacles
The best way to see the Pinnacles is to take the Pinnacles Drive, a four kilometre one way road through the park that starts just after entering the park. There are parking bays along the road so you can stop and take photographs or closely investigate the structures.
There is also a 1.2km walking path that takes you through the centre of the area. The walk is well signposted from the parking area.
The Pinnacles Drive
At the start of the drive, the low dense shrubs hide some of the pillars. Water remains on the road from the recent rain but this is not a problem even in our 2 wheel drive car.
As we drive further in, the shrubs disappear and a desert landscape prevails.
We arrived late in the afternoon. The sun was high and the light bright but as the sun slowly set, the pinnacles took on a red hue. As it disappeared a pink hue covered the sky softening the view.
Whether you see the Pinnacles at sunrise, in the bright light of day or at sunset, the experience is one not to miss.
Information on the Pinnacles
The Pinnacles is an easy day trip from Perth. The drive takes two hours each way on sealed roads. Signs mark the turnoff from Indian Ocean Drive to Nambung National Park. The park entrance is a few kilometres down a sealed road.
An entrance free is payable at the park…$12 per car or $6 for concession.
The park is open from 6am – 9pm
Don’t forget to visit the Pinnacles Discovery Centre to learn about the park and its native flora and fauna.
After your visit to the park, head to Hangover Bay for a swim in the stunning clear, blue water. The fishing is excellent here too. The turnoff is on the left, just before the turnoff to the Nambung National Park.
Nearby Cervantes is a fishing town, important for the rock lobster industry.
The Lobster Shack offers tours of the factory and fishing charters but most people stop between 11am and 2pm for a lobster roll!
Seashells Cafe on the beachfront is another local cafe.
Just south of Cervantes is Lake Thetis where marine stromatolites can be found.
Accommodation is available here if you are heading further up the coast. We stayed at the Pinnacles Edge Motel.
See the Wildflowers
In spring time, Western Australia famous wildflowers are on show. Swathes of colour can be seen from the road or head to Lesueur National Park, just past Jurien Bay, which is known for its fabulous display from July to October.
Other articles on Western Australia that you may enjoy:
Wildflowers of the West
Keeping Busy in Broome
Rottnest Island in January: An Instagram Gallery
Postcards from the Kimberleys