By Jade Johnston
All conversation suddenly stopped as we rounded a bend and a clearing full of pinnacles came into view.
“wwooooowww” was all I could manage, mouth agape
“Oh that is nothing yet,” Mike, our guide for the day told us.
I have been looking forward to seeing the pinnacles of Cervantes for a long time now. It even ranked as a potential trip highlight for me. But what are they?
Mike knows best about the pinnacles are, and what they are not. Having worked in the region for about 17 years, and as a park ranger in Western Australia for over 20 years, he could be called something as an expert. He started and runs the pinnacle tours for Turquoise Coast Enviro Tours.
He explains the phenomenon of the pinnacles to us, as he draws a diagram into the sand with a “bush pencil”, or stick.
“The pinnacles are made out of limestone, but how did the limestone get here? Have a look at those sand dunes over there, because they are very important.”
Many years ago, during the ice ages in Australia, the sea level was much lower. Calcium sediments from the ocean floor blew into this area where it was later covered with sand and where it eventually turned into a thick layer of limestone.
Eventually plants grew over the dunes, and the layer of humus that they created combined with rain water to create acid strong enough to wear away at the limestone beneath, creating pinnacles beneath the sand.
But where did the layer of vegetation go?
Well there are several theories on that, but Mike reckons that sand dunes eventually moved over the plants, killing them. And when the dunes moved onwards, they exposed the pinnacles that were underneath.
And Mike can prove it.
Looking at the pinnacles, you can see several layers, created by several ice ages. And what else is visible in those layers?
Fossilized plant roots.
“We are going to turn down here now. Most tourist busses don’t come down here, but this is where some of the best stuff is.”
Everywhere you turn, pinnacles. And you just can’t take a bad picture of a pinnacle.
Mike is full of stories from his many years working with the pinnacles.
“And heres the one where Billy Connelley danced around naked, you often catch people recreating that famous dance out here.”
“And over here is the walk to the lookout. We’ll go there later, but not to watch the sunset. Most people go there for the sunset, but I know a much better spot.”
As we slowly make our way around the circuit, frequently stopping to get out and examine some more pinnacles, Mike tells us how much people miss the best stuff. Some people don’t know the area well enough, some tourist couches are too big to get through some of the areas, but many, unfortunately, are just in too much of a rush to truly spend the time appreciating this area.
“The aboriginals explained the pinnacles this way. Once there were two warring tribes, and this was the spot of a giant battle. All the fallen warriors turned into pinnacles.”
A noble story.
“But of course, it’s always the innocent which suffer…. like the poor platypus,” Mike points out a pinnacle which looks just like Australia’s famous reptilian mammal.
But perhaps his favourite pinnacle is perhaps not a pinnacle at all, but the molar of a “side-of-the-track-a-saurus”… (although it looks more like a tooth shaped pinnacle to me! But who am I to argue with the experts, right?)
The pinnacles are incredible and awe inspiring, but it’s Mikes stories and personality which really take the cake.
After more than three hours exploring the world of the pinnacles, Mike takes us to the best spot to watch the sunset. This is of course, a trade secret of Mikes, so if you want to know where it is you will just have to book yourself on a tour.
- The pinnacles are located about 20 km’s from the town of Cervantes.
- Cervantes is located about 250 km’s north of Perth. Although it is possible to see them on a day trip from Perth, this is not recommended. As Mike pointed out, the people who come up from Perth hardly have any time to explore the pinnacles before having to load back up and head home again. And the pinnacles deserve more time than that, believe me.
- The pinnacles are open all year round
- To book a tour with Mike from Turquoise Coast Enviro Tours, see his website here.