On a return trip to Western Australia, I was excited to be visiting the Pinnacles Desert for the first time, a long time entry on my bucket list.
We headed up along the Indian Ocean Drive- the very name promising ocean views in abundance. In reality, we saw very few as the road was slightly inland and away from the coast. Nevertheless, it was interesting to witness the different types of ‘bush’. Some stretches had copious quantities of the very beautiful Australian Christmas trees, in full bloom at Christmas time.
This is not what it seems however as it is a parasite, possibly the largest in the world! It is a member of the mistletoe family (Loranthaceae), but growing as a tree rather than a shrub attached to trees, such as we find in the northern hemisphere.
We then drove on into veritable ‘forests’ of iconic Grass Trees. And Guess what – In keeping with Australian idiosyncratic things, they are neither grass nor trees!
Living for hundreds of years they produce a great seed head up to 4 meters long. They can withstand the infernos of bushfires and will simply grow again after everything else has been destroyed in the searing heat. Tough little customers!
As we drove on, vast sand dunes of snow white sand loomed on the horizon – looking for all the world like snow-capped hills in Ireland. These enormous dunes, up to three or four storeys high, are used for sandboarding and for 4 Wheeled drive adventures.
A stop to exercise three energetic girls in Lancelin offered a wonderful view of the Indian Ocean as we enjoyed a lunch of delicious ‘Sweet lipped Snapper’ I didn’t try the lips but the parts I did eat were superb!
Our destination, Nambung National Park, was a little further on and was marked by the contrasting sand colour – where snow white sands meet the yellow sands of the Pinnacles Desert – as can be seen here.
The Pinnacles Desert is well named for the hundreds and hundreds of pinnacles of every shape and size that stand here.
There are a number of theories as to how these were formed, but one thing is certain – there is evidence of seashells in them, so perhaps, as in the Burren Co Clare, water dissolved the limestone to create these magnificent sculptures, some of which are up to 3 meters high. More explanations can be seen here.
The site is quite extensive and a very user-friendly route for vehicles has been marked out with minimal impact on the site. It would be difficult for pedestrians to see the entire site, especially in very high temperatures.
A fascinating landscape and well worth a visit! Ideal for children whose vivid imaginations see beyond the ‘tombstone effect’ and can create wonderful monsters and stories in the blink of an eye!
Images; the silvervoice