Travelling north and leaving Rockingham and Perth behind, our first destination was planned and pre-booked – the sleepy little seaside township of Cervantes – the gateway to Nambung National Park, home to The Pinnacles Desert.
After arriving in Cervantes and setting up, we couldn’t wait to start exploring, with brilliant white sand and the beautiful, calm, turquoise waters of Western Australia’s Coral Coast right at our doorstep, we knew interesting things were just waiting to be found all around us.
Cervantes is named after a whaling ship that was wrecked just offshore in June 1844. The ship in turn had been named after Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote, and references to the ship are found everywhere. From the welcoming sign on the highway to the mural on the wall at the Country Club as featured above. It seems the whole community embraces the ship lost in their waters.
Our priority was visiting Nambung National Park and seeing The Pinnacles Desert. The Pinnacles are thousands of limestone pillars, formed 25,000 to 30,000 years ago, that rise up out of the yellow sands of the desert and have scientists stumped as to exactly how they formed. Current research favours two explanations, both involve plants acting as the critical catalyst.
One theory claims The Pinnacles are the remains of an eroded sand dune layer that was once rich in plant roots. The other theory claims they are the calcified remains of trunks from an ancient forest buried by sand during a fierce storm.
Both theories are controversial and may be challenged as new research is undertaken.
However they came into being, they are spectacular to witness.
Some pinnacles are quite small, barely reaching above your ankle, others tower overhead up to 5 metres (16.4 feet), and there are thousands, and thousands, and thousands of them.
In the park, you can drive along Pinnacle Drive, a 4-kilometre (2.8 miles) pathway through and around the structures. Bays have been provided so you can park the car and walk around. Arriving early in the morning it was eerily beautiful, Dean and I found ourselves lost for almost two hours, and we had the area to ourselves. We saw evidence of wildlife, their tracks the only marks in the sand beyond our own footprints.
We returned at sunset. How could we not? From any angle, at any time of the day, they were/are an incredible sight to behold.
We had a lovely time at Cervantes. I went swimming for the first time in so long that I honestly can’t remember the last time I frolicked in the ocean. The water was warm and inviting and I couldn’t resist. Dean tried (unsuccessfully) to coax a fish to take a worm off a hook, and we put the car into 4WD and drove along the beach a couple of times.
We saw an Osprey on the beach, and then again when we visited Lake Thetis.
Lake Thetis is one of only a few places in the world with living marine stromatolites. The Osprey was standing on one and to be honest, I was more interested in the Osprey and could hardly take my eyes off him (or her).
On another note, by far the funniest thing we did was get stuck in the sand when driving along the beach. Thankfully we were able to get ourselves out, but not before the car slid closer and closer (and closer) towards the edge of the water and 30 minutes vanished, along with Dean’s patience.
With a little less air pressure in the tyres and creative digging on my part, out we popped. We were so intent on getting out, I didn’t even take a photo, but I did do all the calculations on how we could get help, where that help could come from, and whether or not that would happen before the car got swamped by the incoming tide.
Thoughts on Where We Stayed
Location No 71 – Cervantes, Wheatbelt, Western Australia
We stayed at The Pinnacles Holiday Park, right on the beach at Cervantes. The park itself has just changed ownership and is undergoing a lot of redevelopment. We found ourselves camped in the middle of a deconstruction zone, where (very) old permanent dwellings were being pulled down to make way for new, modern chalets, not a blade of grass in sight and the wind scattering dust everywhere. Did we care? Absolutely not!
Location No 72 – Geraldton, Mid West, Western Australia
This was only an overnight stay, somewhere to sleep and replenish supplies before reaching our next stop – Kalbarri. We stayed at the Sunset Beach Holiday Park, oddly enough situated on Sunset Beach, but surprise, surprise, we were denied a sunset due to heavy cloud cover. Oh well.
Dean and I arrived in Kalbarri yesterday. It’s hot and humid and already the mercury is soaring northward at 8:30 am.
We’re enjoying the shade of the trees we set up under at the Murchison River Caravan Park and we can see the mouth of Murchison River from our site. It’s so nice here we might stay for a week or more. There’s a lot to see in the Kalbarri National Park and, when the wind dies down, (hopefully) Dean will be able to catch a wave on the local break.
To all our family and friends back home – Kalbarri is in Western Australia’s Mid-West region and on (almost) the same latitude as Brisbane. Think of us when you look west towards the setting sun. It will still be overhead here, keeping us hot and sweaty.