the Pinnacles Desert in the Nambung National Park, Western Australia. Located just outside the town of Cervantes on the Coral Coast

Extending Up from the Desert: The Pinnacles, Western Australia

Reaching for the Sky in the Pinnacles Desert, Western Australia

Back in the Australian Aboriginal dream time, young men were warned not to venture into the desert that sits inside the Nambung National Park, Western Australia.  The young men were warned they would be swallowed up by the sinking desert sands.  Aboriginal elders could see the remnants of past men as their fingers were stretching high out of the yellow desert sand.  Reaching up to be saved.

the Pinnacles Desert in the Nambung National Park, Western Australia. Located just outside the town of Cervantes on the Coral Coast

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Whilst we now know that this is just mythology, scientists have yet to agree on how the Pinnacles Desert in Western Australia was formed.

T two theories of the Pinnacles Desert in the Nambung National Park, Western Australia were formed.

The two theories of how the Pinnacles Desert was formed.

What the scientists do agree on is that the Pinnacles were formed over 500 000 years ago.  As the winds blew the shifting desert and beach sands, the Pinnacles were uncovered and recovered, the most recent uncovering being only a few hundred years ago.  Back when only Indigenous Australian Aboriginals lived on the continent.

In 1829, Europeans settled in Western Australia.  Yet the Pinnacles were not made mention of in public records until 1934.  It took until the 1960’s for the area to become popular with holiday makers and in 1968 it was made a national park – the Nambung National Park (Indigenous for windy or crooked).

Today the Pinnacles is a popular destination for a weekend getaway from Perth – only a two-hour drive.  Or a stop during a longer road trip, up the West Coast of Australia.

We are on a long weekend getaway staying in Cervantes at the RAC Cervantes Holiday Park with our main goal being to explore the Pinnacles Desert.

Exploring the Pinnacles Desert

Having driven a mere ten minutes from the nearby town of Cervantes, we turn off the Indian Ocean Drive.  Making our way inland on the narrow road through the native shrubs (that in Spring will be a carpet of pink, yellow and white) we line up at the entrance station.

We stop, pay our $12 per vehicle entrance fee and are advised to:

  • follow the marked dirt road which is suitable for two-wheel drive
  • park in the car bays only
  • we are welcome to walk about the pinnacles
  • not to climb on the Pinnacles
  • the Discovery Centre is included in the cost.

The Discovery Centre provides a historical timeline of the Pinnacles Desert and offers theories on how the Pinnacles formed.  There’s also a little shop if you want to buy a souvenir.

Inside the Discovery centre at the Pinnacles Desert in the Nambung National Park, Western Australia.

Inside the Pinnacles Discovery Centre

We drive onto the yellow desert sand following the small limestone rocks that mark the 4km one-way loop.  It is almost as if the large tall striking limestone pillars have replaced the plant life.  Driving very slowly we eventually find a parking area with a free bay.  With our car parked, we set out to explore this baron landscape.

Driving the marked road in the Pinnacles Desert in the Nambung National Park, Western Australia.

Driving the marked dirt road

Feeling as though we have travelled to another world, we wonder why the Pinnacles have never been used as the backdrop for a movie?  It would make the perfect alien planet.

the Pinnacles Desert in the Nambung National Park, Western Australia. Located just outside the town of Cervantes on the Coral Coast

Each Pinnacle is different from the next.  One is a column, another a chair, some are phallic symbols, others are like masks and a few are like groups of people.

Different formation in the Pinnacles Desert in the Nambung National Park, Western Australia. Located just outside the town of Cervantes on the Coral Coast

Different formations of the Pinnacles

Some are small and squat, while others are taller than two metres.

Walking in the Pinnacles Desert in the Nambung National Park, Western Australia. Located just outside the town of Cervantes on the Coral Coast

Walking amongst the Pinnacles

Halfway around the loop is the lookout – well worth a stop.  From the top, we see how vast the Pinnacles Desert really is – a total of 17 487 hectares.

the Pinnacles Desert in the Nambung National Park, Western Australia. Located just outside the town of Cervantes on the Coral Coast

Views inland

With its stunning views inland and out to sea.

Views from within the Pinnacles Desert in the Nambung National Park, Western Australia. Located just outside the town of Cervantes on the Coral Coast

Views out to sea

It is all quite impressive, little wonder why Tourism Western Australian lists it as one of WA’s top ten natural wonders.  How lucky are we, that people are no longer scared to visit the “sinking sands”, instead able to experience this unique landscape?

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Top Trip Tips: Visiting the Pinnacles Desert, Western Australia

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Location

  • The Pinnacles are located within the Nambung National Park along West Australia’s coral coast approximately two hours north of Perth CBD or ten minutes south of Cervantes town.
  • You will either need your own car to drive into and around the Pinnacles or book a tour from Perth.

Entrance Fees

  • $12/car (up to 12 people) valid for the entire day.
  • Discounts for pensioners are available
  • If you are towing your caravan or trailer you will need to leave it in the car park whilst you drive the unpaved loop.
  • No pets allowed.  Pets are not allowed in any West Australian national parks.

Opening Hours

  • The Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre is open 9:30-4:30 pm.
  • You are welcome to come for sunrise and sunset please pay at the honour box.

Where to Stay

Learn More about Western Australia

the Pinnacles Desert in the Nambung National Park, Western Australia. Located just outside the town of Cervantes on the Coral Coast

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DISCLOSURE:

  • We paid our own entry costs.
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Sally-Ann
Hi, I'm a Perth born and bred travel tips blogger/writer with 20+ years experience in airlines, hospitality and tourism. I love sharing my travel lessons learned to help you have a better holiday with my travel tips for trips. Please follow along to receive all my travel tips and destination inspirations.

8 Responses to “Extending Up from the Desert: The Pinnacles, Western Australia

  • What a crazy landscape! We had no idea this place existed, so thanks for putting it on our radar. Now we’re intrigued – going to have to go read up on these cool formations! #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Just one of the many stunning unusual pieces of nature here in Western Australia to discover Rob and Ann.

  • This is such an interesting place to visit! I haven’t seen anything like this before. Australia surely is a very strange continent. I hope to visit it someday. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  • To be honest, I didn’t get the title of your post until I read further into the post and saw your pictures of hundreds of rock formations extending into the sky! This is awesome! I’ve never heard of it before! #TheWeeklyPostcard!

    • I’m glad the title made sense eventually. Did the title have you intrigued or just confused Lolo?

  • The rock formations are really interesting, I love the photos. It’s so nice that they allow you in the park for sunrise and sunset! #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    • Yes, it is nice Anisa. If you are a mad keen photographer you would be I imagine you would be in for a treat.

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