The Pinnacles in Nambung National Park
The Pinnacles, in Nambung National Park, are mysterious clusters of jagged limestone columns shaped by the natural elements, which rise dramatically out of the sand dunes, with some as tall as 4 metres. They are also located only 2 hours north of Perth – just an easy cruise up Indian Ocean Drive!
In the national park, visitors can follow the 1.2-kilometre signed walk and enjoy the formations up close, or alternatively take the scenic 4-kilometre one-way loop drive with stop points along the marked route. I personally preferred the walk as the terrain isn’t too tough and there’s nothing quite like meandering through the desert landscape under the glare of the sun (don’t forget you hat and sunscreen). The bright yellowness of the environment almost seemed artificial, and I was reminded of the Looney Tunes cartoons I watched growing up of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner (beep beep!) in the American desert.
Visitors can also drop in on the Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre to learn more about the history of the Pinnacles. Note: it currently costs AU$12 for a vehicle to enter the national park (holding up to 12 people).
After the Pinnacles, drive to the nearby coastal town of Cervantes for lunch at Lobster Shack. The lobster factory-turned-lobster shack unapologetically caters for tourists, but it has a quaint, convivial atmosphere and feels exactly how a small fishing town should feel – with just the right amount of kitsch. While in Cervantes, stop by Lake Thetis to view the stromatolites – natural formations created by the oldest known organisms on Earth (we’re talking billions of years old here).
Lancelin sand dunes
Before heading back to Perth, visit the Lancelin sand dunes, the largest sand dune system in Western Australia at 2 kilometres long. Sand doesn’t seem all that impressive (and is often more annoying than anything else) until all you can see is giant mound after giant mound of sand, so white that it almost passes for snow. Footprint trails merge with vehicle track marks, and it’s quite a sight to see the line of dirt-bikes and four-wheel drives flying daringly across the sand. The dunes are also a popular place for sand boarding and boards can be rented near the entrance. Do exercise caution as it’s not a regulated site.