Our Pinnacles day trip didn’t go down well with everyone in the car. But, this unique desert landscape in the Nambung National Park in Western Australia, is a must see.
Pinnacles day trip on the way to Kalbarri
For the record, Western Australia’s Pinnacles are more than just some rocks sticking out of the ground. This unkind description was made by one of the kids after hearing we’d be taking a ‘scenic detour’ there before reaching our Kalbarri campsite. Liam was a destination-focused traveller and unannounced additions to the itinerary were never well received.
The Pinnacles are a two-hour drive north of Perth. On their own, the termite mound shaped rocks are an impressive sight. Add an Indian Ocean back drop and an endlessly blue sky and you have a landscape fit for a Star Wars movie.
one up, one down!
Despite our best efforts to get Liam excited about the unusual landscape, he remained unimpressed. All he cared about was that there were some ‘boring rocks’ getting between us and our next location. His attitude didn’t particularly bother us. By now, we were now used to the ebb and flow of family moods on our trip around Australia. What’s more, we knew there would be an upside to his lack of interest.
As we had learned, when one child was ‘out of sorts’, the other became a model travelling companion. Today was no different. While Liam sat in silent protest, Caitlin suddenly revealed that seeing the Pinnacles was her lifelong dream. Not bad considering she’d found out about them only a couple of days ago.
We arrived at the Pinnacles around lunchtime. The midday temperature was already in the high thirties. We opted for the self-drive tour which has several parking bays where you can stop and walk amongst the rocks.
To highlight her brother’s sulky indifference, and reinforce her passion for the Pinnacles, Caitlin practically jumped from a moving car at our first stop . With air-conditioned comfort to return to, a bit of heat wasn’t going to stop her campaign for favourite child status. While she was braced for the heat, she wasn’t expecting the flies.
We had encountered some impressive fly situations on our travels. The Head of the Bight lookout, Nature’s Window at Murchison Gorge and Karijini National Park around tea time were all memorable for their fly swarms. But the Pinnacles in mid-March around the middle of the day takes the prize. You would have listened with fascination to the buzzing air except you were too busy keeping flies out of you nose and ears.
Caitlin was trying desperately to maintain her brother-defying enthusiasm but as several flies attempted to colonise her nose you could sense she was losing the battle. Just breathing without inhaling a fly or two was a challenge. It wasn’t long before I conceded our time walking amongst The Pinnacles might be limited.
Flies aside, The Pinnacles were spectacular. The coarsely textured fingers and mounds scattered across the yellow sand were like nothing we had seen. It looked like a cemetery of limestone headstones – monuments to a bygone geological era.
The place is a photographer’s delight. A visit at dawn or dusk with the fingers of shadow stretching across the dunes would produce beautiful images. With the sun high in the sky, my photographic challenge was to get Caitlin smiling without swallowing any flies.
The result were some strained grins on her usually very photogenic face. Taking pictures was a challenge too. Blowing flies away from your mouth and resisting the urge to swat the ones crawling in your ears didn’t lend itself to producing well framed or focussed images!
We eventually retreated to the car, each of us bringing a couple of dozen flies with us as souvenirs. Even without the motivation of a grumpy brother, Caitlin’s efforts to explore the landscape were admirable. We both felt a sense of accomplishment at having walked around The Pinnacles in less than ideal conditions. The mood in the car improved further when Liam realised our next stop was Kalbarri.
Interestingly, when we reminisce with Caitlin about The Pinnacles, there’s never a mention of the heat or flies. She just remembers the strange shaped rocks and climbing them for a photo. So, if you’re doing a West Coast road trip take the scenic detour, forget about the weather and don’t worry about the flies. These rocks just sticking out of the ground are the memory that will last.