Published: May 16th 2011May 15th 2011
Saturday, 14th and because of the rather late night we were a bit slow getting going. It was a little cloudy and cool but, hoping it would warm up as the day went on, we packed the snorkelling gear in the car. I prepared a picnic in case we happened upon an ideal picnic spot but our main destination today was The Pinnacles. This is one of Australia’s iconic images: the Pinnacles Desert where thousands of huge limestone pillars rise out from the shifting yellow sands. Eight years ago we went with a local tour but today we drove there ourselves and our WA National Parks Pass came into play allowing us ‘free’ entry.
The entrance to Nambung National Park, as it is now called, was about10 kms off the main highway south of Cervantes. The facilities in the park have been significantly improved since our previous visit and now there is a very modern interpretive centre. We parked up and, following the advice of the Park Ranger who greeted us at the entrance, we set off through the bush on the 1.5 kms walking trail. The sight that suddenly greets you as you emerge from the bush is quite
amazing – a seemingly endless desert full of pillars. How these pinnacles came to be formed is still a bit of a mystery – there are at least three different scientific explanations plus the Aboriginal Dreamtime version that the pillars are fossilized ghosts, but they are certainly thousands of years old. Probably the first Europeans to see them were the crew of HMS Roebuck, captained by famous explorer William Dampier, in 1699. We strolled around slowly, following the small blue posts which indicated the recommended way through. Without them it would be easy to lose your way in the undulating park and to drift away from the visitor centre. The myriad of different shapes and sizes were fascinating and, like last time, it was easy to liken some of them to specific or well known images and articles. There were a few other walkers though most visitors chose to bypass the walking trail and to drive around a 4 kilometer circuit. There are regular parking places on the drive to investigate the more far flung groups of pillars and that was what we intended to do once we had found our way back to the visitor centre.
an hour we returned to the centre and walked through the display units that explained the history of the area, the likely origins of the pinnacles and the wildlife that could be found in the area. Unfortunately, unlike the walk which was lovely and peaceful, our visit to the centre was accompanied by a large group of “foreign” visitors whose noisy conversations were overwhelmed only by their many, even noisier badly behaved children. Nevertheless, the display was fascinating and gave a brilliant insight into what is a great national park. In our attempt to escape the rowdy visitors we moved back to the car park and started our drive through the pillars. It was a wonderfully well thought out route winding effortlessly through the park and giving a perfect view of so many more pinnacles than could be seen from the walking trail. We timed our drive perfectly as we hardly saw another vehicle so we were able to meander through at our leisure, often parking to take photos of some of the more bizarre pillars. It was tempting to drive through again but we had a couple of other places we wanted to visit.
We drove on to
Hangover Bay in the hope that we could find a suitable spot for a picnic but that wasn’t entirely satisfactory as the car park wasn’t particularly well equipped and was some way from the beach. So we then tried the road to Kangaroo Point but the gravel road became so rough that we took pity on PIE and turned back. Nearer to Cervantes we were keen to visit Lake Thetis on the edge of the town because it boasts some Stromatolites. These are examples of some of the oldest living organisms anywhere in the world. Other similar ones are thought to be millions of years old! The ones here are mere youngsters at just a few thousand years of age. However, on arrival, we spotted the noisy tourists and their herd of kids so we drove on to the nearby Hanson Bay Lookout thinking we could call in to Lake Thetis on our way back when it might be a bit quieter. The lookout was just a little way further along a gravel road and was well worth the visit. We climbed a long wooden staircase to the top which gave a fantastic view of the Indian Ocean looking towards
Cervantes in the near distance and Jurien Bay beyond. From the lookout we could also see the lake and spotted the “rowdies” on their way out of the car park so we drove back and enjoyed a lovely stroll by the lake. The Stromatolites were fascinating but the lake also boasts a large variety of bird life and at certain times of the year it is a haven for birds migrating from north to south and vice versa - today though, it was very quiet.
We decided to take our sandwiches back to the caravan and so we had our picnic there. It was then that we noticed a number of tents going up in the camping area by the ablution block which wasn’t far away from us. A very noisy group of about 20 teenagers appeared but as they seemed to be accompanied by a couple of adults we thought nothing of it. We drove back to the beach at Thirsty Point and had a wander and then went in search of a jetty – Cervantes has three jetties but when we got there, notices plainly told us to keep off as they were private property. Presumably they
are owned by the Lobster fishermen. That was a bit disappointing but we had a short stroll along the beach which at that point was covered in seaweed. We returned to the caravan to settle down for what we hoped would be a peaceful night. Our immediate neighbours were very chatty – the one couple had been on their “snorkel with sea lions trip” whilst the other was a Vietnam war veteran and his wife who, it turned out, lived at Mundaring, a place we had visited a few days earlier while staying in Perth. The park was filling up with several “last minute” caravanners setting up for the night but the hoped for peaceful night turned into a bit of a noisy affair. Once again, Graham seemed to sleep right through but the noise being generated by the group of youngsters, Spanish we believe, was far from acceptable. Because I knew there was a very slim chance of going to sleep while the racket was carrying on, and little chance of a good reaction if I went out to see them, I carried on with a blog and also kept an eye on the English Soccer FA Cup Final
(it was still 0-0 when I finally turned the laptop off). It was probably well after midnight when the noise subsided and I was able finally to get some sleep.
In the morning all the talk was of the events of the night before. The Spanish youngsters and their “minders” had drunk and larked about excessively and, apparently, in the early hours of the morning, a police car was seen in the park. They continued to behave raucously in the morning and the state that the toilets and showers were in left a lot to be desired. We were very relieved to see the tents coming down and the coach disappearing out of the caravan park.
It didn’t surprise us to learn that some people had complained and Vietnam man was given a complimentary free night in compensation so was staying in Cervantes an extra night. We were already booked in for another night but I thought that I would complain just to register some dissatisfaction in the hope that it wouldn’t happen again in future. To my surprise, the lady in charge offered us a free meal in the café which could be either a breakfast there
and then (we had already eaten), lunch later (but we were going to Jurien Bay for the day and planned to eat out there) or breakfast tomorrow - I settled for breakfast tomorrow.
We continued with our plan to visit Jurien Bay where we had stayed years ago. It’s a much bigger place than Cervantes and so had much more to offer in the way of shops etc. It was very pleasant, just as we remembered it, and also now boasted a brand new jetty which was readily accessible to the public so we walked on the jetty and watched the many fishermen trying their luck. Within a couple of minutes a smallish fish had been caught by one fellow and was soon safely in a bucket. However, it didn’t take long to exhaust our interest in Jurien Bay. Even though there was a very pleasant looking beach there, the weather just wasn’t good enough for us to seriously consider a swim but I did have a paddle just to confirm the chilly temperature of the water! Graham suggested we return to Cervantes to see if a free lunch was still on offer - it was and we could
choose anything on the menu. So I ordered grilled fish with chips and salad (just about the most expensive thing on the menu) and Graham went for salmon patties, also with chips and salad. It was accompanied with a pot of tea for two and, in total, it amounted to over 40 dollars worth!! The lady was more than happy that we should have it and continued to be apologetic. She said she had cancelled forthwith any dealings with the tour company that had brought the disruption to the park and would be charging them for any compensation she felt obliged to offer. So we didn’t feel quite so bad for taking full advantage of her offer and went away very satisfied. It was so nice to get such an apologetic reaction from the management of the caravan park – we wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again.
In the afternoon we found our way back to Thirsty Point, still harbouring the thought of a swim or a snorkel. The beach looked lovely and the waves were reasonable but the water still felt cold and we hadn’t seen a single soul in the water in this area. I settled for
Another legend ....
says that these could be the fingertips of young Aboriginal men who strayed into the desert and were buried
another paddle though I misjudged the force of the waves at one point and nearly ended up in a wet heap but just managed to keep my balance! It will be a nice memory to take away when we hit the road tomorrow (Monday). Back at the caravan I started preparing for our departure but Graham decided he would go for a walk. He has finally taken on board the need to lose a bit of weight so, the last couple of days, he has eaten more sensibly and gone for extra regular walks. I was just thinking what a nice long walk he must have managed when he came back and told me that today’s exercise finished just up the road at the local oval! Cervantes were playing fierce local rivals Jurien Bay at Aussie Rules football and as he watched it for some time consequently didn’t walk as far as he’d hoped - but at least he’s trying!!
It was very quiet in the evening and I went to bed a bit earlier than normal to try to catch up on my missed sleep.
There are more photos below