Pinnacles – Amazing Landscape Shines Bright in the Desert Sun




The sun is shining bright and it’s a clear blue sky sort of day, which is not unusual for Perth. We are off to visit the Pinnacles in the Nambung National Park from our nearby base at Cervantes. The Pinnacles Desert is 10 kilometres from Cervantes heading south back towards the city off the Indian Ocean Drive.

It’s a top attraction that is on the must see list for many visitors to Western Australia which receives over 150,000 visitors each year. Given its closeness to Perth (a couple of hours drive), there’s really no excuse not to visit since the Pinnacles makes for a great day trip or a weekend overnighter if you would like to explore nearby areas as well.

Entry to the Pinnacles desert is a no fuss experience. The cost is $11 per car for entrance to the Pinnacles part of Nambung National Park. The friendly lady at the information booth gives us a handy pamphlet to navigate the park, and a brief overview on the different ways to see the Pinnacles. We decide to do the 4 kilometre self drive first followed by the self guided walk.

As we wander through the Pinnacles, people and vehicles are in motion, moving quietly and at their own pace as they marvel at these strange formations before them. It makes one ponder about the evolution of this unique desert….how were these formations created? Has this landscape always looked the same? How has it evolved over time?

On our walk, a lady nearby makes an animated exclamation and I walk closer to see what her excitement is about. She has seen signs of fossilised tree life in one cluster of limestone formations.

The Pinnacles is amazingly old and when we say old, we are talking over 500,000 years old, and ecologists are still debating over its creation. One theory goes that it is the evolution of a Tuart forest whilst another theory states that it is the remnants of tree roots that have created these limestone formations. At one stage of its history, the Pinnacles were completely covered. Who knows what the future holds for our beloved Pinnacles?


The sands gleam a bright yellow colour across the vast expanse of the desert landscape, the shades of gold startlingly bright at times. Some shapes are pointed, some rounder, some decidedly phallic in nature, some low to the ground, whilst other formations reach high into the sky. The desert is abundant with wildlife, though during the day one could be mistaken for thinking it empty as it seems deathly quiet, apart from human life.

The 1.5 km self guided walk is fun and allows more exploratory time at a leisurely pace than the self drive. Though having said that with the car self drive you can get out at convenient spots and still take your time to marvel at the landscape. The walk is well marked to keep you on track and has good views from the Desert View lookout.

Recommendations are made that good times during the day to visit the Pinnacles are early morning or at dusk (when its cooler!). We visited during the lunchtime, and it was perfect (but hot!). So don’t get too stressed if you can’t visit the Pinnacles at the recommended times. Any time is great to visit this unique and eerie landscape that is the Pinnacles. Just remember to bring some cold drinks and a hat!

Make sure to visit the Discovery Centre, with its beautiful presentation of photos and images that capture the different moods of the Pinnacles. The narrative about the landscape, its ecological significance, and wildlife will enhance your visit.

All in all, the Pinnacles make for an excellent day trip or weekender from Perth. If you haven’t made a trip to the golden forest yet, it might be time to hit the Indian Ocean Drive.

How to Get There

Distance: 196 kilometres from Perth GPO. Take the Indian Ocean Drive.

Estimated trip time: 2 hours 16 minutes

Closest town: Cervantes 20 kilometres, 21 minute drive

Entry to Nambung National Park: $11 per car

Facilities: Discovery Centre and toilets

Refreshments: There is no café at the Nambung National Park, so you may want to bring your own snacks and drinks.

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