We have visited Perth a few times as our good friends live there. This time, we thought of adding something new to our itinerary. Since the girls are older now, we thought they might be able to take long car rides better. So we planned a day road-trip from Perth City to The Pinnacles.
We read up quite a bit about it, but nothing prepared us for the awesome sight that greeted our eyes when we arrived. We weren’t sure whether the girls would appreciate it, or whether it’d be worth the 2.5 hour drive up north. But when we arrived, we were glad we made the trek there!
But first, here’s what we saw along the way, along the relatively new Indian Ocean Drive…
Nilgen Nature Reserve and Lookout
After passing by the town of Lancelin, we decided to do a brief stop at the Nilgen Lookout so that we could have our sandwiches. We could see glimpses of the Indian Ocean from this lookout point. But we didn’t tarry long, as there were numerous bluebottle flies that were very drawn to us!
We jouneyed on, through various terrain – sometimes through forested areas, other times through barren desert lands. Wildflowers apparently abound on the Indian Ocean Drive in October, but we were there in March, so oh well. Here’s one of the very Australian road signs we passed by.
We ended up making an unintentional but interesting detour to the town of Cervantes. We thought of dropping by the Pinnacles Visitor Centre there before going to the site proper, but realised that what we really meant to see was the Discovery Centre that was actually on-site at the Pinnacles desert.
Nonetheless, we were glad we popped by the town, for we had a really good meal there!
Cervantes is a tiny sleepy town of some 500 inhabitants, and looks like a 1960s film set. Indeed, I’m quite sure that most of it hadn’t changed since the town was established in 1962 to accommodate workers in the local cray fishing industry. The town sounds very literary, but actually got its name from the American whaling ship ‘Cervantes’ that was wrecked here in 1844.
The town centre comprises an information counter, that is in the same premise as the town’s post office and sundry goods store! There is a chemist next door, a fish-and-chips shop thereafter, and not very much more.
Still, we had a yummy meal of really fresh squid and fish at the Sea Breeze Cafe. The vinegar for the chips was dispensed via what looked like a gardening spray bottle! It seemed like a one-woman-operation shop, and the lady who took our orders also fried our fish, and was very friendly to our little family.
We stopped by Lake Thetis, which was just 5 mins drive away from Cervantes, on the way to The Pinnacles. This little tidal lake has salinity levels twice as high as the ocean, which created perfect conditions for the formation of stromatolites, the oldest and largest living fossil known to man.
We had lots of fun taking jump shots there, and some friendly fellow tourists also offered to take a family photo for us. This metal board walk made the Lake very accessible, and we learnt a lot from the information signboards there too.
Namburg National Park
Finally, we arrived at the home of The Pinnacles.
Before entering the desert, we were treated to the sight of a family of emus crossing the road! There were at least 4-5 of them, and here are the last two.
Pinnacle Desert Discovery Centre
First, a stop at the proper Discovery Centre, which did not disappoint.
Modern and informative, we had a great time walking through the small but interesting exhibits of the Discovery Centre. It’s fascinating how to date there are three major theories of how these Pinnacles came to be, but no definite explanation.
Soon, it was time to drive out to these enigmas in stone…
The girls were not very impressed, and derived the most joy from drawing on the sand. It was like the desert was simply a large canvas for their sand art.
What a glorious sight! Initially we thought there might be about 50 of these formations, but it took our breath away when we realised that there were thousands of them!
I thought it was great that they have made it possible for cars to ‘drive through’ the desert through paths marked by little stones. So those who might be less ambulant (elderly, small kids) can still view these fascinating rock spires.
The skies turned a bright beautiful blue mid-way after being cloudy and overcast when we first arrived.
There were little high mounds in the desert (left rock on photo above) that you could climb up to get a better view (close-up of that rock is on photo below), and also a couple of boardwalks constructed for a bird’s eye view of the landscape.
K was very inspired to draw and write in the sand. As we gawked and took photos, the kids mainly scrawled on the ground.
The sea can be seen the distance in the photo below!
After spending a few hours in the Pinnacle Desert, we headed back. Along the way, we saw these pristine white sand dunes. These could have been formed from strong winds blowing beach sand inland. Apparently sand-boarding is a popular tourist activity. I read somewhere that the sand could also be blown by winds such that the ‘moving dune’ covers over and chokes up vegetation.
There you have it! Hope this comes in useful for those who are planning a trip to The Pinnacles.
Here are some useful sites to help you in further planning:
Pinnacles Drive, via Nambung National Park,
Cervantes, Western Australia, 6511
Telephone: +61 8 9652 7913