If you’re prone to falling asleep on long drives, you’ll get the shock of your life when you wake up in the middle of Nambung National Park on WA’s coral coast.
You’d be forgiven for thinking you were still dreaming – this lunar landscape feels so far from reality. But a few arm pinches and a good rub of the eyes later, you’ll realise that with otherworldly expanse is in fact a very real place. Covering nearly 200 square kilometres, Nambung is home to thousands of curious limestone pillars that jut out from the earth, forming one of the most popular attractions on the west coast – the Pinnacles Desert.
The Pinnacles were formed around 30,000 years ago when the sea receded and left behind stacks of sea shells. As time passed, the coastal winds blew away the surrounding sand and shaped the pillars we see today. Some of the Pinnacles stand 3.5 metres high!
How to see the Pinnacles
The best way to see the Pinnacles is by embarking on the four-kilometre loop Pinnacles Loop which can be driven or walked – this takes around an hour. The loop is open year round and is accessible by 2WD vehicles (you’ll probably need to swing by the carwash after this). There is an epic, wheelchair-friendly lookout that offers spectacular views of the landscape.
Be sure to stop into the Pinnacles Discovery Centre too and learn about the fascinating history of the desert and surrounding national park.
It costs $15 per vehicle to enter and explore the site. This helps to maintain the park and facilities for future visitors.
How to get to the Pinnacles Desert
The Pinnacles Desert is approximately 200 kilometres north of Perth. Most travellers base themselves in the coastal town of Cervantes, 17 kilometres from the National Park.
The main car park and viewing area is accessible by 2WD vehicles but some particularly sandy areas may require a 4WD.
More things to do in Nambung National Park
The traditional custodians of the land, the Yued people, have been stewards of this fascinating natural expanse for centuries. The national park gets its name from the Nambung River which flows through the park and disappears into a limestone cave network.
There are plenty of great walking trails and beaches to explore, including Kangaroo Point and Hangover Bay. At Lake Thetis, a raised boardwalk allows visitors to get a closer look at the thrombolites – fascinating structures made by microorganisms, formed over thousands of years. Some are believed to be more than 3.6 billion years old!
Nambung National Park is also home to an array of birds and wildlife – more than 176 different species! Keep an eye out for western grey kangaroos, dingoes, honey possums and red foxes. You’ll likely spot a few blue-tongued skinks and sand goannas. Keep your eyes peeled for Humpback whales making their way along the coast during migration seasons too.
Things to do in nearby Cervantes
Cervantes is known as the gateway to the Pinnacles Desert and for good reason! It’s just a short drive from the entry to the park, which means you can spend the whole day exploring and still be back in time for happy hour. For a seafood feast, you can’t miss the Lobster Shack in town. The seafood baskets taste just as good as they look!
Check out the Cervantes Art Trail that winds through the township features 23 thought-provoking artworks that explore the history and natural beauty of the area.
Accommodation near the Pinnacles Desert
You’ll find plenty of holiday rentals in Cervantes but if you’re looking for a hotel/motel stay, Cervantes Pinnacles Motel or Cervantes Holiday Park will do the trick. You’ll find a comprehensive list of options here.
You can also venture slightly further to the popular coastal holiday spot, Jurien Bay. Accommodation options are more plentiful and you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to dining out. Jurien bay is popular during school holiday times so be sure to book in advance. Check out the best accommodation options here.