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These strange rock formations are known as the Pinnacles. They are found in the Red Desert area of the Nambung National Park on the coast of Western Australia north of Perth and just south of Jurien Bay. It makes a nice day trip from Perth.
Some formations are several feet tall, others the size of a finger. The current theory is that the Pinnacles are slightly harder columns of limestone that formed around tree tap roots that penetrated deep into limestone formed within ancient sand dunes. Water is always active in limestone and calcite is thought to have been preferentially deposited near these roots. When the softer limestone was eroded away, the columns remained. (There is an older theory that the Pinnacles are the result of calcification of tree stumps from an ancient forest, once covered in sand and now exposed by shifting dunes.)
Cars (2WD) should follow the Brand Highway and take the Cervantes turn off. The road from Cervantes at the northern end of the park to the Pinnacles is 24km long and rough in parts where the base consists of limestone.
Four wheel drive tracks lead from Lancelin on the coast south of the park, past spectacular sand dunes, to Wedge Island and on to the southern boundary of the park (about 40km). Tide permitting, the beach can be driven north from Wedge Island to Grey - but you do not want to get bogged in the surf.
There is a "village" of fishermens' and holiday shacks at Wedge; rather like a scene from Mad Max there is at least one internal combustion engine (4x4, buggy, trail bike, mini bike etc) per man, woman and child. Watch out for vehicles (including Oka's) coming the other way. Sand flags (on whip masts) are popular fitments. The track from Lancelin passes through a military ordinance range and the West Australian newspaper prints warning of its being in use.
The Pinnacles... A Brief History.
What are the Pinnacles?
Millions of years ago, when the ocean level dropped nearly 300 feet, in its place were left countless shells and and a vast desert. Over time these shells and sand turned into a layer of Limestone deep beneath the sand dunes.
Soon plants and trees began to grow on the sand dunes, and their roots began to reach deep within the earth. When the roots came to the limestone, they found their way between any crack or whole they could find, and forced their way through the layer of limestone, allowing sand to fill the cracks.
Brush fires later killed off all plants and trees from the sand dunes, which left the dunes exposed and unprotected from harsh desert winds. Over time the dunes were blown away, exposing the limestone beneath. The winds then blew the sand from between the cracks, and then after millions of years broke the weaker limestone away, leaving only the strongest pilars of limestone remaining.
Now we are left with thousands of limestone pillars, scattered arcoss the yellow sand desert of Nambung National Park. Their heights ranging from just a few inches, to 4 meters tall (about 13 feet).
- Historical Travel
The Pinnacles...Tour Option
Tour or, no tour? That is the question today...
I am a tour loving kind of guy. Sure i can find out most of the info i gain on the tour from guide books, and through the internet. But it is the useless info that i love. The small little humors that a good tour guide throws in, in between all the bits of knowledge he or she is throwing at you.
For example. If i didnt take the Pinnacles tour, i wouldnt have taken notice to the small round rocks surrounding the pinnacles. I would have just passed them off as simple stones. But because of our guide, i learned that they werent stones, but petrified kangaroo droppings. Hardened after countless days in the blazing desert sun. Great souvenirs to send home to family and friends.
Seriously, if i didnt take the tour, i probably wouldnt have taken the time to look at the detail of the pinnacles, and noticed the marks still visable from the roots of the trees, millions of years ago, that once grew thru them. I also wouldnt have known the best places to stop in the park, to see some of the more unique pinnacles, unlike others in the park. These are the things that make a good tour worth while.
The tour i did, and recommend is Turquoise Coast, Enviro Tours. The tours are operated out of Cervantes and are guided by Mike Newton. I former National Park Ranger, with over 20 years experience with the Pinnacles. They have mornig tours, noon tours, and sunset tours. Lasting 2 1/2 hours, and costing 35 dollars per person. I recommend the sunset tour, becuase of the beauty of the pinnacles in the changing light of the falling sun.
- Historical Travel
- National/State Park
Rocks Rocks and More rocks
The work of mother nature on rock formation from limestone built up over many many uncountable years.
To Pinnalces takes about approximately 6 hours of bus journey from Perth City.
Basically, it's more of a sightseeing tour. My friend, vivien and I are there only for 45 minutes before the coach starts another 6 hours journey back to Perth.
And of course, along the way, we have toilet breaks and stopovers at deli for lunch.
Before that we also did a bit of sandboarding.
Will upload the pic soon.
Cost of the tour via travel agency: AUST$79
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
When visiting the Pinnacles, we learned from people in the area, that the best time to see them was at sunrise, or sunset. Anyone we asked, or anything we read about it, recommended these times.
Once we finally visited them, we realized what they were saying. We arrived around 330pm. As the sun began to fall closer to the horizon, its casted shadows, and allowed you to see colors of the desert that are ussaully dulled by a high blazing sun on the horizon.
As the sun fell lower. You could see beautiful oranges, purples, blues, yellows, and reds throughout the desert and the rocks. The shadows added a different look of dimensions to the pilars of limestone.
Also, dont let anyone tell you they are just rocks. It is a breath taking landscape, unlike any i have seen in the world, and a fascinating look into the earth early geology. A must see while in Western Australia, and a must see at sunset or sunrise.
- School Holidays
- Historical Travel
Nambung National Park
Nambung National Park is home to the Pinnacles Desert one of Western Australia's most unique natural attractions. A three hour drive north of Perth, and you will find thousands of limestone pillars which rise from the yellow sands and look like something from a science fiction movie.
It is possible to get up close to the Pinnacles on a scenic drive through the park whilst a walk trail includes an lookout over the park with great views.
If you have your own transport then the park is easily accessible by car or four wheel drive, otherwise you can take a coach or four wheel drive tour from Perth.
- National/State Park
Oh my I swallowed a fly! - Pinnacles desert
You can do a day coach trip from Perth to the Nambung national park to see the Pinnacles desert or its a 4 hour drive.
We did a coach trip, which was just as well as it was a very long day and with the heat made it very tiring. Also, some of the roads we went along were not paved so would have been fun in a bog standard hire car.
On the way we visited a Koala sanctuary, ok, but not as good as the Lone Pine sanctuary in Brisbane. You can also see wild Kangeroos and Emus on the way if you look hard enough!
We also went to some huge sand dunes at Lancelin (see separate tip) and a quick stop on a gorgeous beach at Hangover bay.
The Pinnacles were really interesting. Early explorers saw them from the sea and thought they were a city. I thought they looked more like people that had been turned to stone and who moved when you were not looking (ok, maybe the heat and the drugs were kicking in here!)
They were very photogenic and I was in my element although I think they would be better to photograph at dusk rather than mid afternoon.
The only thing that spoilt it were the flies It was very hot and the flies were everywhere. Some people had nets over their hats to keep them off their faces since they have a tendancy to go for your mouth and nose. I swallowed one - gross!
A must go place in Perth! We drove there before the sunset and took a walk around there. The Pinnacles is amazing. The formations are of different heights, but we couldnt find the tallest 5m one. The view just before the sunset was wonderful and he couldnt stop taking photos of the short and tall pinnacles. But it got cooler after the sun went down and the road became very dark. So we decided to come again the next day. We woke up at 5 am and arrived the Pinnacles at 6 early in the morning. The sun was rising and the desert was misty. We took "enough" photos and returned to the Motel for a warm breakfast.
- Family Travel
The Pinnacles - Cenotaphs in the desert
Came here via Redback Safaris Tours (now seems to be called Western Xposure Tours) on a day-tour from Perth. The rate then (circa 2001) was A$98 with lunch.
The Pinnacles are to be found in Namburg National Park, a 3-hours drive from Perth.
Poking out of the yellow sand like cenotaphs from a bygone age, the spread of stabs of limestone rock give the entire place a sombre and mildly eerie feeling. In places, some of these pillars can reach up to three and a half metres tall. Some are jagged, sharp-edged columns, rising to a point; while others resemble tombstones. The sense of awe and amazement hit you as you begin to wonder through the maze, marvelling at Mother Earth's handy work.
The origin of the limestone can be traced to sea shells deposits from epochs ago when lime-rich sand began depositing across the coastline, creating sand dunes. Alternative and opposing powers of erosion (through water and wind) and calcification slowly created the foundation for the creation of the Pinnacles, a process taking thousands of years until it was believed at about 6000 years ago, when the harder calcified limestone pillars were finally revealed by the strong winds gushing the sand dunes around.
Well worth a visit but watch out for the marauding houseflies during summer. They LOVE moisture-rich us!!
- National/State Park
Have a wander round some ancient rocks
One of the most peculiar landscapes on the planet (or so I'd imagine), the Pinnacles are slightly North of Perth and occupy a considerable area of land.
Basically what happened was erosion of rocks and soil, with the softer rocks disappearing, and the harder rocks staying behind, in the form of , you guessed it, pinnacles!
Really interesting to wander around these rock formations that are millions of years old, and something else to look out for are the miles and miles and miles of termite mounds on the way out of the area.
- Budget Travel
This place looks like the moon with termites hills all over the place. They are not anthills or anything like that, they are rock formations that witstand erosion for so long. Out of this world!!
Classification: Hiking , Photography , Site Seeing
- Hiking and Walking
The Pinnacles Desert is actually 245km north of Perth in Namburg National Park. Several Perth companies offer day trips at about A$150pp but the drive takes about 3 hours which is the option I chose as I already had a hire car. Entrance to the park is A$9 per car and you can drive round the set loop. The drive is about 3.5km and there are a several parking places so you can stop and take pictures. You are allowed to get out and walk amongst the pinnacles but don’t climb all over them.
Another big sight to see. Originally these Stones were one big plate, but by erosion from wind an water they became less and a few of them has left. Great landscape for photographs ... like another planet.
You must go north to see the...
You must go north to see the pinnacles; it is only about 200km north of Perth and simply a spectacular sight around sunset. They are so impressive because these pillars were formed as chalk clinging to the roots of trees 30,000 year ago. Since then, the trees have gone and so has the dunes where the trees grew, to reveal this attraction.
You will also feel very small and insignificant as a human as the Nambung National Park is vast and isolated with maybe 35km to the nearest town (Cervantes).
Rent car and drive yourself
It will cost you much less to drive yourself there. The paths around the Pinnacles are hard-packed. You don't even need a 4WD. Also, after Pinnacles, drive back to Lancelin, rent a sand board and sand board down the sand dunes. Make sure you park in the designated car park or your car will be bogged down. It will cost $500 to tow your car out of soft sand. There's also a lovely short boarding beach just outside Lancelin - Back Beach. Waves are consistent, shallow, and rolling...
- Hiking and Walking
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