Pinnacles at Sunset-2

The Pinnacles: Western Australia’s Mysterious Desert

As I stare at the landscape below, I forget for a moment where I am. The landscape is quite surreal and unlike any that we have passed on our drive here. We are at the Pinnacles in Western Australia’s Nambung National Park, a two hour, two hundred kilometre drive north of Perth.

The Pinnacles


In this corner of the park, the landscape is unusual…even alien. Protruding pillars dot the barren landscape whilst the ever changing light adds another dimension.

The Pinnacles


What are the Pinnacles?

The Pinnacles are limestone pillars, some up to five metres in height that are believed to have been formed underground, possibly up to 500,000 years ago. Researchers are not sure if they have remained buried for all of this time or if they have been exposed and then reburied. There is some evidence that they were exposed 6000 years ago and reburied until they were found over two hundred years ago.

The Pinnacles

The Pinnacles

The Pinnacles


The Pinnacles Discovery Centre

At the Pinnacles Discovery Centre, you can learn about the different theories behind their formation. There are two schools of thought as to how they were formed.

“Some believe that the limestone between the pinnacles was leached away more rapidly in areas where plant roots increased the acidity of the soil; others believe that the pinnacles formed around roots and trunks of buried trees.

In both theories the pinnacles were formed beneath the ground from the varied influence of acidic water as it moved through the soil. When vegetation was removed the sand was blown away. The pinnacles were then sculptured further by wind rain and sun into what we see today”

*(Information from the Department of Environment and Conservation brochure “Parks of the Turquoise Coast”)


The Pinnacles


How to see the Pinnacles

The best way to see the Pinnacles is to take the Pinnacles Drive, a four kilometre one way road through the park that starts just after entering the park. There are parking bays along the road so you can stop and take photographs or closely investigate the structures.

There is also a 1.2km walking path that takes you through the centre of the area. The walk is well signposted from the parking area.


The Pinnacles


The Pinnacles Drive

At the start of the drive, the low dense shrubs hide some of the pillars. Water remains on the road from the recent rain but this is not a problem even in our 2 wheel drive car.

The Pinnacles


As we drive further in, the shrubs disappear and a desert landscape prevails.

The Pinnacles


The Pinnacles

The Pinnacles


We arrived late in the afternoon. The sun was high and the light bright but as the sun slowly set, the pinnacles took on a red hue. As it disappeared a pink hue covered the sky softening the view.


The Pinnacles


 The Pinnacles


The Pinnacles


The Pinnacles



The Pinnacles: Western Australia's Mysterious Desert

Whether you see the Pinnacles at sunrise, in the bright light of day or at sunset, the experience is one not to miss.


Information on the Pinnacles

The Pinnacles is an easy day trip from Perth. The drive takes two hours each way on sealed roads. Signs mark the turnoff from Indian Ocean Drive to Nambung National Park. The park entrance is a few kilometres down a sealed road.

An entrance free is payable at the park…$12 per car or $6 for concession.
The park is open from 6am – 9pm
Don’t forget to visit the Pinnacles Discovery Centre to learn about the park and its native flora and fauna.

Nearby Attractions

The Pinnacles

Hangover Bay
After your visit to the park, head to Hangover Bay for a swim in the stunning clear, blue water. The fishing is excellent here too. The turnoff is on the left, just before the turnoff to the Nambung National Park.

Nearby Cervantes is a fishing town, important for the rock lobster industry.
The Lobster Shack offers tours of the factory and fishing charters but most people stop between 11am and 2pm for a lobster roll!
Seashells Cafe on the beachfront is another local cafe.

Just south of Cervantes is Lake Thetis where marine stromatolites can be found.

Accommodation is available here if you are heading further up the coast. We stayed at the Pinnacles Edge Motel.

See the Wildflowers 
In spring time, Western Australia famous wildflowers are on show. Swathes of colour can be seen from the road or head to Lesueur National Park, just past Jurien Bay, which is known for its fabulous display from July to October.

Center map
Google MapsGet Directions


Other articles on Western Australia that you may enjoy:
Wildflowers of the West
Keeping Busy in Broome
Rottnest Island in January: An Instagram Gallery
Postcards from the Kimberleys


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42 Responses to The Pinnacles: Western Australia’s Mysterious Desert

  1. Denise D Hammond July 4, 2015 at 6:26 am #

    How incredibly beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing. I may never go back to Australia, so at least I can enjoy your photos.

    • Jenny Freedman July 7, 2015 at 9:17 pm #

      I hope you do get back to Australia Denise but in the meantime, I’m happy to share my travels. There’s so much to see in Australia, it could take a while!

  2. Krista July 4, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

    How absolutely stunning! I’ve never even heard of this beautiful place.

    • Jenny Freedman July 7, 2015 at 9:18 pm #

      It’s only 2 hours north of Perth Krista! I’m embarrassed to say that this was my first visit there! So different.

  3. Andrea July 4, 2015 at 9:45 pm #

    So stunning! Love that sunset pic.

    • Jenny Freedman July 7, 2015 at 9:19 pm #

      Thanks Andrea.I don’t think I’ll make a sunrise here but it was beautiful at sunset. Great to have finally been here!

  4. Michela July 5, 2015 at 9:15 am #

    Love the pinnacles! Your photos make me want to go back, thanks for sharing.

    • Jenny Freedman July 7, 2015 at 9:20 pm #

      It’s quite an amazing place isn’t it Michela. You should head back when you’re next in the West!

  5. Joy @MyTravelingJoys July 6, 2015 at 9:58 am #

    How interesting! The pinnacles really remind me of the “fairy chimney” rock formations in Cappadocia, Turkey! Maybe we’ll make it out that way. 🙂

    • Jenny Freedman July 7, 2015 at 9:25 pm #

      Interesting you make that comment Joy. I made the same comparison as we walked through the valley though the pinnacles were no where as high as those in Cappadocia. I hope you do visit us in the West whilst you are in Australia.

  6. Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru July 6, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    What an other-worldly landscape, so very compelling and quite unlike any other place. I was reminded of the Badlands in South Dakota, but even so, these formations are entirely different. How interesting that they’re within a short drive of the ocean, too. What a contrast.

    • Jenny Freedman July 7, 2015 at 9:51 pm #

      It’s a very different landscape isn’t it Betsy. I haven’t been to the Badlands but it did remind me of Cappadocia. One of the other theories on the formation of the pinnacles that I read about believed that lime sands accumulated on the ocean bed were blown inland forming mobile dunes, which is why they are close to the ocean. I suppose we’ll never know the correct theory.

  7. Lyn aka TheTravellingLindfields July 6, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

    The Pinnacles is one of those places I would love to visit but have never quite made it. I’m glad to hear that they can be seen without a 4WD. We have been to W.A a few times and next time I am definitely making it to the Pinnacles.

    • Jenny Freedman July 7, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

      It’s taken a while for us to visit the Pinnacles too Lyn and they’re only two hours from Perth! Hope to see you here soon!

  8. Paula McInerney July 6, 2015 at 1:48 pm #

    It is the colours that continue to amaze me. Australia owns all rights to having the best light ever

    • Jenny Freedman July 7, 2015 at 10:01 pm #

      We certainly do Paula. The light is amazing. The way it changes the colour of the earth is fabulous. One minute it’s golden, the next it’s red. So beautiful.

  9. Yasha Langford July 6, 2015 at 7:44 pm #

    What stunning photos. I’ve seen quite a lot of my home country of Australia but have never travelled North of Perth. It was lovely to see The Pinnacles in all their glory on your post. I will look forward to getting there one day.

    • Jenny Freedman July 7, 2015 at 10:08 pm #

      Thanks Yasha. You’re missing the best part of Australia! The Pinnacles are a great first stop on the drive north. I hope you get back here soon.

  10. Cathy Sweeney July 6, 2015 at 11:17 pm #

    The Pinnacles are amazing — and definitely surreal. I’d love to see them in person, but your pics really captured the mysterious landscape beautifully. Very interesting to learn about them and theories about how they formed. I’ve seen some stunning and unusual natural sights in the U.S., but the Pinnacles are unique.

    • Jenny Freedman July 7, 2015 at 10:17 pm #

      They are quite surreal Cathy. You have some incredible national parks in the States with amazing rock formations. The closest I have seen to the Pinnacles are the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia which are quite a lot higher. I hope you do come to see the for yourself oneday!

  11. Irene S. Levine July 7, 2015 at 8:35 am #

    What an unusual landscape! If you told me the Pinnacles were in the Middle East, I might have believed you. Beautiful photography~

    • Jenny Freedman July 7, 2015 at 10:33 pm #

      Thank you Irene. Such a different landscape. It was fun to see and photograph. The light was particularly beautiful this day.

  12. A Cook Not Mad (Nat) July 7, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

    The mystery of the Pinnacles is captivating, as are most mysterious rock formations and outcroppings. I love that you were there as the sun went down and got them in that perfect golden light. Beautiful!

    • Jenny Freedman July 7, 2015 at 10:46 pm #

      Very mysterious indeed Nat! I was surprised to learn that there were a couple of theories as to their formation. Sunset was definitely the time to be there.

  13. Shelley July 7, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

    The Pinnacles definitely have an other-worldly appearance! I enjoyed seeing your photos of how the setting sun affected this landscape.

    • Jenny Freedman July 7, 2015 at 11:37 pm #

      Like no other in Western Australia Shelley! I’m so glad we decided to go at sunset…it really was a fabulous time to be there.

  14. Sand In My Suitcase July 7, 2015 at 11:45 pm #

    What strange-looking rock pillars! They kind of remind us of the “fairy chimneys” and other unusual rock formations you see in Cappadocia, Turkey.

    • Jenny Freedman July 7, 2015 at 11:51 pm #

      They reminded us of the fairy chimneys too Janice, except the Pinnacles are a lot smaller. Another difference was that these are in a sand desert creating an interesting effect.

  15. budget jan July 8, 2015 at 4:57 pm #

    Western Australia is establishing itself in my mind. Four friends of ours are currently in W.A. on an impromptu trip and your posts are reminding me of how much I love W.A. I’ve been to Cervantes but we didn’t drive into the Pinnacles. We could have by your description of the road. We had a Nissan E20 longbase campervan which sunk at the sight of sand and I remember us thinking we didn’t want to get stuck in there, lol. Hangover Bay sounds and looks lovely. I’d be interested in how it got it’s name. 🙂

    • Jenny Freedman July 23, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

      I’d be interested to know how Hangover Bay got its name too Jan…..t would definitely cure a hangover! You’ll have to stop at the Pinnacles when you finally do come and visit us!

  16. lee laurino July 9, 2015 at 7:13 am #

    my fist trip to oz this fall and not sure i will see ALL of this massive country but this may be one part that i can drive in! wont run into others driving on the wrong side of the road as i will be

    • Jenny Freedman July 23, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

      I had to laugh Lee….you’ll be very safe in this one way system! It is a big country…most people head east but we think the west is best! Do you know where you’ll be heading yet?

  17. Marilyn Jones July 11, 2015 at 3:47 pm #

    How fascinating! The Pinnacles in Western Australia’s Nambung National Park are beautiful in an unusual sort of way. I love your photos showing how they change as the light changes. Very interesting!

    • Jenny Freedman July 23, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

      I’m so glad we went at sunset Marilyn. The changing light was fabulous to see and gave a different feel to the landscape.

  18. Jo July 16, 2015 at 11:12 am #

    You’ve really captured the ethereal beauty of The Pinnacles Jenny. I haven’t been, but I have to say that I’d love to get up there one of these days.

    • Jenny Freedman July 23, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

      Thanks Jo. You have an excuse but I’ve lived here all my life and had not been…and it’s only two hours from Perth! It was great to finally see the landscape.

  19. anil_traveller August 29, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    wow! the pinnacles sure does look mystical, and your picture are totally stunning too! 🙂

    • Jenny Freedman August 30, 2015 at 10:47 am #

      Thanks Anil. The Pinnacles is very different to any other landscape we have in the state.

  20. Shing September 12, 2015 at 6:56 pm #

    These are captivating, a place I’ve not heard of until now so thanks for bringing it to my attention Jenny! I love unusual formations like these, they’re so surprising!

    • Jenny Freedman September 28, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

      We’ve got some incredible landscapes here Shing! It was fascinating to learn how the Pinnacles were formed so, so long ago. I hope that one day you might visit us and can see the Pinnacles for yourself!

  21. Alice Genoh September 29, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

    I’ve always loved visiting the Pinnacles. Been there twice before. Appreciate your blog as I feel this place has been ignored by most of the traveling experts and common people. Too much importance has been given to the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the night life in Melbourne. While this place offers great sight seeing with peaceful environment. Great Read.

    • Jenny Freedman September 29, 2015 at 9:11 pm #

      Thanks Alice. It is surprising that the Pinnacles doesn’t receive more attention than it does. We were there at sunset and it was quite beautiful!

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