Numbing National park is just a 3 hour drive north of Perth in Western Australia. It is home to the famous Pinnacles Desert and close to the holiday town of Cervantes. This makes it a popular choice for a weekend away from the big city. But what is so special about the pinnacles?
What are the pinnacles?
They are limestone pillars which rise out of sand dunes. There are thousands of these across the park. They range in size from just a few centimetres to 4 meters high. Some of them rise in spire shapes to a point but others form a more wide and thin shape with a rounded top. Every single pinnacle is unique.
Scientists are yet to work out how these strange formations were created but there is a couple of theories;
- Millions of years ago the land where the pinnacles now stand was underwater. It is likely that there was a coral reef which created the limestone deposits. After some time the reef died and left behind the limestone shells. Sand and silt which moves around in the ocean settled on top of the reef, hiding it. A few thousand years later the continental shelf lifted and pushed the area above the water. Subject to the strong costal winds the softer sandstone quickly eroded away leaving the limestone remains.
- Once upon a time the land where the pinnacles now stand was a forest. Due to some form of natural disaster like a landslide the forest was buried. Over time the insides of the tree trunks rotted and turned into limestone. Over millions of years the strong costal winds eroded away the softer soil or rock which surrounded theses tree trunks.
The only thing which the scientists can agree on is that the wind has something to do with creation of these mysterious rocks.
Discovering the Pinnacles
The first records of the pinnacles are from the 1700s when explorers were starting to map the costal areas of Western Australia. It was reported as a strange and spooky desert area. Nothing ever became of this report and the pinnacles were forgotten until 1967 when they first became a tourist attraction. Soon after this they were given the protection they needed and the area became a national park.
In recent years the protection has increased to prevent tourists from climbing on the pinnacles because this was causing many of them to break.
Visiting The Pinnacles
Entry to the park is AU$20 per car. (as of 2017)
There is an information centre, gift shop and cafe at the entrance to the park. This is worth a visit because it provides a lot of information about the Pinnacles, their history and the scientific work being carried out.
There is two options for exploring the pinnacles, walking or driving. The walking tour is 1.2km and is signposted. You will walk from the park entrance amongst the stones to a viewing platform in the middle and back. The driving tour is 4km of dirt road which winds around the many formations. There are plenty of pull over points where you can get out of your car and walk amount the pinnacles. I would recommend the driving tour because it suitable for all cars and you get to see more overall.
Allow a couple of hours to explore the desert and visit the information centre.
Try to go early in the morning or late afternoon so as to avoid the hot sun.