The Pinnacles, Western Australia
Rising out of the sandy desert floor, the natural limestone pillars of The Pinnacles look like you have landed on a distant planet or on the set of a science fiction movie.
Some of the pinnacles are only a few centimetres high, while others reach a height of almost 4 metres (13 feet) tall.
The Pinnacles are breathtakingly beautiful for their uniqueness, history, culture and how they can both remind you of isolation and togetherness at the same time. As the sand dunes are constantly moving across the landscape, some of the pinnacles become hidden over time while others emerge as the sweeping sands uncover more of their secrets.
As you drive around the marked dirt tracks there are wayside stop areas where you can pause and step foot among these towering giants. The tracks are easily accessed by 2WD or 4WD vehicles. Walking trails also cross the landscape.
I went on a sunset tour organised through Jurien Bay Adventure Tours and had the pleasure of being hosted by Kass and Mike. Mike is a local from the nearby town of Cervantes and spent years as a Ranger in Western Australia. His knowledge was impressive as well as entertaining. Mike loves a laugh and tells plenty of funny geological jokes. Mike told us a story of when some dentists were on a tour and he told them one of the large pinnacles was a prehistoric dinosaur tooth. They were very excited and took quickly took several selfies with the "tooth". He really rocks (that one is for you Mike) .
Mike said the pinnacles were not formed by seashells, which is something many sources state. I had also read that they were petrified trees, but evidence does not support this supposition either. Looking at the pinnacles in depth, there are no traces of seashell visible anywhere. Limestone is made of calcium carbonate, as is both chalk and marble. Petrified tree roots are often seen embedded in the limestone, and the different colours in the mounds show different periods of limestone formed over various ice ages. Black areas of the mounds are from long ago fires that ravaged the landscape and changed the colour of the limestone for a certain time. In many of the pinnacles different structures can be seen from where the angle of the deposited wind swept sand has changed during the formation of the original limestone.
Whatever their origin, they are fascinating. Aboriginal legends state they are either people from an enemy tribe frozen in time, or naughty children who ventured into forbidden lands. Now petrified as rock, the pinnacles are their fingers reaching to the skies for help.
Looking at the different shapes, sizes and colours it is easy to spot different animals and people in the formations.
Can you see an elephant in this pinnacle, or a mother and father with their children?
Signs in the National Park state: "Do not climb on the Pinnacles" However, I saw many tourists climbing up to take their selfies. These rocks are often delicate and there is no forewarning of them falling over. Please be careful when you come here, both of your own safety and the preservation of this incredible place.
(Look carefully at this beautiful picture and you can just see two tourists standing on top of one of these delicate structures).
Emus and kangaroos are often seen in the Park, and their scat dots the land, but I did not actually see any of the animals in the Park the evening I was there. There were some on the roads outside the Park, which is also a timely reminder when driving in Australia to be extra diligent when driving on roads towards evening.
As the sun begins to set, its warm hues light up the stones with different colours, and it is the magic hour for photographs. There is an air of mystery approaching now and the stones seem to become magical. The only sounds you hear are the shifting sands and winds, as you are blessed by nature with her wonderous beauty.
As the sun sets, the tour is not yet over. The glorious stars of the milky way shine above and Jurien Bay Adventure Tours had a scrumptious supper laid out with cheeses, olives, dips, gourmet crackers and strawberries. It was the perfect ending to an amazing afternoon and evening. We ate our evening picnic in the van as the winds were quite strong that night. I didn't want to end up eating a sand-wich. (lol).
We chatted and reminisced together, and this was a wonderful way to finish the evening. A perfect treat.
Situated in the Nambung National Park, near the town of Cervantes, the Pinnacles are about a 2 hour drive north from Perth. I suggest doing a tour instead of a self drive, as you learn a lot of information as well as being treated with special care. They can also organise accommodation packages and other activities in the area. www.jurienbayadventuretours.com.au
I am very glad to have had the opportunity to visit this incredible place. A highlight of Western Australia.
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