If there is one single tourist attraction that is most likely to be included in any Perth's tour package, it would be the Pinnacles Desert. It is so famous that a tour company is named after it. Every year about 150,000 people visit it from all over the world.
Lots of locals probably don't understand what the fuss is all about. It's okay when you're a tourist sitting pretty in an airconditioned bus with the driver doing all the work. But why would we
spend hours driving just to see a bunch of rocks?
The Pinnacles Desert
The answer would be because the bunch of rocks happen to consist of thousands of ancient limestone formations that rise out of the yellow desert. It is a very unique and extraordinary landscape that is not available anywhere else in Australia.
It used to take more than three hours to drive via Brand Highway to Nambung National Park where the Pinnacles Desert is located. However, since the opening of the new Indian Ocean Drive through Lancelin in 2010, the traveling time has been cut by about an hour, making it a much more comfortable day-trip from Perth.
The coastal sceneries along the new route is also a vast improvement compared to the old route. The Indian Ocean Drive website
describes the many attractions along the way such as the Emu Downs Wind Farm and the Lancelin sand dunes.
Emu Downs Wind Farm surrounded by wildflowers in spring
Make sure you don't get too distracted by the stop-overs though, as you do need at least a few hours to really enjoy the stark beauty of the Pinnacles Desert. The scenic drive around the area won't really take that long. However, you wouldn't want to miss the opportunities to get up close to the Pinnacles by getting off your car, wandering around, and going up to the lookouts.
Up, close, and personal with the Pinnacles and its wildlife
If you drive to the very end of the scenic drive (you'd know you're there when you reach a roundabout for you to turn around), you would find yourself in a relatively deserted area surrounded by sand dunes. As there are not too many of the limestone formations around here, most people don't make a stop and when we did we had this corner of the national park to ourselves. We had a jolly good time climbing and sliding down the dunes.
Sand dunes in the Pinnacles Desert
To be fair, the sand dunes in Lancelin are probably better because they're higher and do not have vegetations to hinder your movements. However, here you don't have to watch for quad bikes that swarm Lancelin's sand dunes and you also have a bonus in the form of a breathtaking view from the top.
View over Nambung National Park from the top of sand dunes
When you're properly tired and hot from all the running around, make a final stop at the Pinnacles Desert Discovery centre before you leave. In between cooling yourself down and using the toilet facilities, you would find out the whys and wherefores of the Pinnacles, for example how Pinnacles were created millions of years ago as seashells were broken down into lime-rich sand and carried ashore and inland by waves and wind.
Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre
So by the end of your visit, you would be able to eloquently answer why it is worth it to drive out here to see this very special bunch of rocks.