Pinnacles Desert

The Pinnacles Desert is a real beauty in the guts of Nambung National Park in Western Australia, a fair dinkum 250 kays north of Perth.

Australian pinnacles

This spot's a ripper with thousands of massive limestone pillars popping up from the golden sands like something out of a sci-fi flick. These pillars are a real mixed bag - all different shapes, sizes, and colours. They're made from old seashells from back when the ocean was teeming with life.

Some of these big boulders stand tall at about 3.5 meters, looking sharp and jagged, while others might remind you of tombstones. If you're thinking of heading out there, spring's the go – between August and October. The weather's mild, and the wildflowers are out in full bloom. For the best views, hit it up early in the morning or late in the evening when the light's magic.

Getting to Nambung National Park and the Pinnacles is a breeze from Perth, making it a top spot for a day trip. The park's name, "Nambung," is an Aboriginal word meaning something like "crooked" or "winding river," which makes sense with the river winding through the park.

The wildlife around here is pretty special, too, mostly night critters. But like many places in Australia, you've got kangaroos, possums, wallabies, snakes, lizards, and emus, mostly spotted in the evening or early morning.

Just a stone's throw from the Pinnacles is Hangover Bay, a cracking beach with white sand where you might see dolphins. The closest town is Cervantes, about 245 kays north of Perth. Right now, there's only one road into the Pinnacles Desert, and the park's open from 9 am to 5 pm.


The Pinnacles Desert's stunning landscape and weird rock formations go way back millions of years. It all started with sea shells breaking down into lime-rich sand. Over time, the wind blew this sand inland, forming dunes. Then, the rain helped the lime sink down, creating limestone.

On top of these dunes, plants grew, protecting them from the wind. This set up a layer of acidic soil, followed by a layer of calcrete forming over the limestone. When plants cracked through the hard layer, water flowed down, eroding the limestone and replacing it with quartz sand, making what we now call Tamala Limestone.

This erosion continued, leaving behind just the limestone pillars we see today. They were exposed when the plants on top died off, either from climate changes or bushfires, and the wind blew away the sand between the pillars.

The first Aboriginal artifacts found here are about 6000 years old. But there's no sign of recent Aboriginal occupation, so some reckon the pinnacles were exposed about 6000 years ago and then covered by sand again before being revealed in recent centuries.

Australian pinnacles tour

The first European to lay eyes on this part of Western Australia was around 1658, showing up on Dutch maps. It popped up again in the journal of navigator Philip Parker King in 1820.

However, the Pinnacles Desert stayed under the radar until the 1960s when it was added to Nambung National Park, which was established in 1956. Since then, it's become a top tourist spot, pulling in around 250,000 visitors a year. With the Indian Ocean Drive expected to be finished in 2011, even more people will be able to check out this amazing part of Australia's natural heritage, drawing desert lovers and photographers from all over to marvel at these mysterious rock formations.

If interested in our article, join our organised Australian Pinnacles Tour. Our authorised guides will personally show you this incredible wilderness.

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