Australia is full of incredible natural wonders, and the Pinnacles are one of the most fascinating. These limestone formations can be found in the sprawling expanse of the Nambung National Park near Cervantes in Western Australia.
They form an eerie silhouette on a desert-inspired backdrop and date back thousands and thousands of years, promising a hearty dose of natural history if you visit.
While there, you can watch western grey kangaroos as they tuck into the sparse vegetation that dots the park just after the sun rises. They’re fairly tame, and often let visitors approach them if they are careful and slow-moving. Elsewhere, you might be able to spot Baudin’s black cockatoos and emus, as well as reptiles like bobtails, sand goannas, and carpet pythons.
The Pinnacles connection to the Aboriginals
These Pinnacles and their surrounds are a very significant region for the traditional owners of the land, the aboriginal people. The Aboriginal people who inhabited this region were named the Nyoongar people. With the name ‘Nambung’ meaning ‘crooked’, which refers to the river which weaves through the region. The Pinnacles are sacred to the local tribe, both spiritual and practical. During the wet season, the Nambung River made a chain of waterholes throughout the park, with the water flowing into the cave systems. These cave waterholes became essential in the survival of the tribe for hundreds of years.
As well, their spiritual connection with the aboriginal people is all linked with the tribe’s women. There are many myths surrounding the region, with the local aboriginal people stating the large rock formations were the remains of fossilised ghosts. They were said to once be young men who wandered into the desert which was sacred and reserved for women only. The gods punished them by burying them alive and leaving behind only their standing limestone figures.
It is still a significant region for women, with many women groups gathering together in the desert to do traditional ceremonies, give birth, and camp beneath the stars.
How the Pinnacles formed
There are quite a few theories detailing the formation of these natural structures. As these limestone creations are so unique scientists cannot narrow down the exact reason for their development. With three main theories detailing their formation.
1. Formation due to Karstification
This theory proposes that the formation was due to the karstification, which is the dissolution of the Tamala Limestone fragments. Weather caused solution pipes which over time progressed in size, resulting in the geography of the pinnacles.
2. Tree Casts Buried in the Ground
The second theory suggests that the formation was due to the tree casts that were buried beneath the ground, who’s roots breached through the soft soil into the calcrete. After the plants die they left an embedded crack in the soil. The climate in Western Australia altered, making the area a warm and dry climate. The wind swept up the loose sand, creating a gradual deflation in ground level. The roots cracks breached in the caliche capping remains, however, resulting in the caliche capped material to reach the surface and become the Pinnacles.
3. A Mass Flow by Plants
The third theory suggests that the Pinnacles were created by plants. Due to the plant’s drawing in water through the soil to the roots, other minerals and nutrients also were drawn, causing a ‘mass flow’ surrounding the roots. Calcium was one of these nutrients, and over time caused the accumulation to form calcrete. After the plants perished and the climate and weather causing deflation in ground level, the reaming calcrete formations around the roots created the Pinnacles.
What to Do in and Around the Pinnacles
The Pinnacles are an attraction in themselves, but there is plenty more to do in the region if you fancy getting to know some of the area’s other major landmarks.
Take a scenic walk or drive the trails through the ancient pillars, some of which soar seven metres skywards. The scattered pattern of them is unique and fascinating, creating a surreal landscape that seems to sprawl out forever. The pillars themselves are made out of shells, and date back to an era when the sand of the region was buried beneath the sea.
The coastal location of the Pinnacles means there are plenty of beaches in the vicinity, too. The national park is flanked by a number of white beaches with crystal clear waters that are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and surfing.
For keen fishermen, Thirsty Point Lookout is the ideal spot to try your hand at fishing, while a simple swim is made spectacular in the glistening waters of Hangover Bay. Closer to home, Kangaroo Point is just 8km from the entrance of the park, and gets its name from the hordes of kangaroos that gather on the pristine sands as the sun sets.
Nearby, the small, quaint town of Cervantes promises you the chance to step back in time. This crayfishing town is again surrounded by pretty beaches that are famed for swimming and watersports, but you can also go deep sea fishing here and explore the colourful coral reefs of a snorkeling tour. Keep your eyes peeled for sea lions and bottle nosed dolphins if you choose to delve into the underwater world.