13 May 2014
The Marvelous and Peculiar Pinnacles of Western Australia
An early start today, we have a trip of over 200 kilometres to see the famous Pinnacles situated north of Perth. We set off just before 8am to follow the Mitchell Highway, our planned first stop is the seaside town of Lancelin. This is a very pretty holiday town on the southern end of the Jurien Bay Marine Park. A reef that stretches all along this coastline protects the coast from the strong tides, but the many fishermen need to carefully steer their boats through openings in the reef. At the end of the pier we found two retired gentlemen attempting to catch some fish, they weren’t very successful (said the fish had been hard to get this week!) but they were enjoying each other’s company and the relaxation. On our walk back to the car we spied a nice little cafe overlooking the bay, Kerfuffle, and the fruit scones with jam and cream and coffee were very welcome. A lookout situated on a slight hill at the end of town afforded some great views of the bay, and the snow white sand dunes that had been invading the land at the back of the town.
Looking south over Lancelin (left) and Lancelin Island from the lookout
From Lancelin it is only a short drive to Nambung National Park, the home of the remarkable Pinnacles. Rising mysteriously from the dune sands are thousands of limestone pillars up to 4 metres tall; a landscape in eerie contrast to the surrounding heath. Some are jagged, sharp-edged columns rising to a point; others resemble tombstones. We chose the 4.2km self-drive through the area, a truly fascinating journey viewing and photographing the many shapes and sizes of the Pinnacles in what I imagined would be like a lunar landscape. Along the drive there are areas to stop the car, one of these being adjacent to a viewing platform. While there we met two Rangers who explained how the Pinnacles are formed, and pointed out various features of the Park.
We had also been intrigued by the two or three sand dunes that we had noticed invading parts of the coastline on our way north, some of them away from the coastline. The explanation was that they were “mobile” sand dunes that can move up to 20 kilometres over a year, choking the natural flora. Other threats to the Nambung National Park are feral cats, goats and pigs. They also pointed out to us tiny holes that can be seen in some of the Pinnacles where birds build their nests – a very busy natural environment.
The Park has a very informative Desert Discovery Interpretive Hall where we learned more about the area, and a Gift Shop.
The Park Rangers had suggested that we visit Hangover Bay on our way to Cervantes, it was only a short distance from the entrance to the Nambung National Park. The Bay is also situated on the Jurien Bay Marine Park on the Turquoise Coast area of WA. It was such a pretty beach, pure white sand and different shades of blue, crystal clear water. Such a contrast to the gold and ochre tones of Nambung.
There was a lot of seaweed that had been washed up on the coastal beaches we saw today, but that doesn’t stop some of the seaside flora from growing in abundance.
Our next stop was another holiday seaside town, Cervantes which has a substantial fishing fleet, and is also famous for the Lobster Shack, where you can buy fresh lobsters. Again the coast is protected by the reef, but there were heaps of seaweed dumped by the Indian Ocean. We were surrounded by the vivid blue of the sky, and the varying hues of blue in the water. For most of the day we had fluffy white clouds following us, then the dark grey clouds moved in, but fortunately no rain for us today, it has been a glorious sunny day.
Time for an icecream and a coffee at the Seashells Cafe before the long drive back to Perth.
Although we had over 200 kilometres to drive back to Perth, we had a good run, this time along the Brand Highway that eventually returned us to the Mitchell Highway to complete our journey. We made a short diversion to the farming town of Gingin, with its green paddocks of cattle and sheep. On the way we passed a large wind farm at Emu Downs, and I was amazed at the number of beautiful banksia trees that lined the highway for kilometre after kilometre, with blossoms ranging from pale pink to bright orange, a glorious sight.
As we started the drive along the Brand Highway we noticed what appeared to be an animal on the road in the distance, and it was a kangaroo just taking in the view. We slowed right down, and even had to press the horn before he noticed us and hopped away into the bush.
Wow, what a day – no wonder I feel tired! We seem to be packing so much into each day, I have to keep notes and finish the blog each night or I’ll forget where we went! And tomorrow we have to be ready at 7.30am to be collected for a day trip to Rottnest Island. This should be a great day too, so I hope you will check in and join us.