Since we were in Western Australia, we decided to take a drive northwards to spend the morning exploring the Pinnacles Desert, and the afternoon in the sleepy fishing town, Cervantes. The three hour journey there from Mosman Park (where we were staying) was well worth it, and what a lovely drive it was. Thanks to Kimmy who lent us her car.
The Pinnacles are limestone formations contained within Nambung National Park and are quite a wonder to see. The Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre is open daily (for 7 hours) except on Christmas day. The park can be accessed outside of these hours, with payment made during the day, but overnight camping is not permitted.
Apart from visiting the Discovery Centre and enjoying the view from the Pinnacles View Lookout (which are both wheelchair accessible), you can walk through the Pinnacles Desert on the Desert View Walk (a 1.2km loop) and/or drive through on a 4km one-way loop.
Thousands of eerie limestone pillars, up to 4m tall form the Pinnacles Desert. The moonscape scenery is made by the pillars rising out of the stark desert landscape of yellow quartz sand. The raw material for the limestone of the Pinnacles came from seashells in an earlier epoch rich in marine life. These shells were broken down into lime rich sands which were blown inland to form high mobile dunes.
The limestone formations of the Pinnacles vary in size and shape; some are as small as a mouse whilst many are as big as 3.5m high. These unusually shaped rocks have been likened to tombstones, termite mounds and even fingers. The Pinnacles Desert is best seen at dawn or dusk when they cast long, strange shadows over the rippling yellow sand dunes.
Cervantes is a small town located just off Indian Ocean Drive with a population of just over 500. The town was named after a ship that was wrecked nearby. The ship, in turn, was named after Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote. The principal industry in the town is fishing. We stopped over in Cervantes to explore the area and grab a late lunch, but most of the shops were closed. We ended up making a quick stop at the “Lobster Shack” and ordered a whole lobster, which is all they had.
There’s nothing much to see or do here, except to savour the lovely views, try the fresh seafood, and visit the nearby Lake Thetis. Here are some of the views from several viewdecks set up along the coast. Absolutely beautiful!
Lake Thetis is a saline coastal lake just east of Cervantes. It is a shallow lake that is estimated to have become isolated from the sea about 4800 years ago. It is a salt lake and is approximately 1.5 times saltier than seawater. It is fed by groundwater and rainfall and the only loss of water is through evaporation.
What makes this lake special is that it is home to stromatolites or living fossils, and has been identified as a threatened ecological community. Strategies have been put in place to minimise the human impact on the area, including a walking trail 1.2km long around the lake with boardwalks in places to allow close up viewing of the stromatolites. The Lake Thetis stromatolites exhibit unusual columnar branching. These narrow, closely spaced and almost parallel columns are extremely rare in modern stromatolites.
This post is one of an 3 part entry of our trip to WA, Australia. See all the places we visited on this trip below: