Published: Monday, 15 February 2021

The Pinnacles Desert is one of Western Australia’s most fascinating natural attractions, with its many column-like limestone pillars rising from the sand.

But how did the Pinnacles come to exist? And when are the best times to visit Nambung National Park to see the structures?

Here we take an in-depth look at the Pinnacles Nambung National Park, equipping you with all the information you’ll need if you want to pay the site a visit.


The History of the Pinnacles Desert

Located in the heart of Nambung National Park, the Pinnacles is one of the most striking locations Western Australia has to offer.

It is named after its thousands of natural column-shaped formations, ranging from roughly 1 metre up to 3.5 metres in height. The Pinnacles have a rugged, weathered appearance due to the yellow sand being blown in different directions when the columns were forming.

The Pinnacle formations are made from limestone, which originally came from broken seashells and coral being blown inland and exposed to the elements. However, there is a bit of a mystery about how these unusual shapes were actually formed.

One theory suggests they were the result of extremely large limestone deposits being eroded by the weather over time. Another theory states that they were originally tree casts or roots, made solid by the calcium present in the sand and covered in limestone.

We may never know how the Pinnacles came into being, but they are an unforgettable sight unlike any other set amongst endless sand dunes in Nambung National Park, Western Australia.

The Pinnacles are thought to be between 25,000 and 30,000 years old. However, the Pinnacles Desert was not widely known until the 20th century, and Nambung National Park itself was only created in 1994 when three reserve areas were combined.

Today the Pinnacles is one of the most popular attractions in Western Australia, providing the ideal photo opportunity for the Instagram feeds of visitors from all around the world.


Attractions at the Pinnacles, Nambung National Park

Pinnacles Desert in Nambung National Park, Western Australia.

While the fascinating structures themselves are the main attraction here, the Pinnacles Desert and Nambung National Park also have plenty of activities on offer.

A visit to the Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre is essential to find out more about the history of the naturally formed landscape and the processes that caused the Pinnacles to form. This is often one of the first stops for tourists visiting local WA National Parks.

There are also plenty of other attractions to enjoy while you’re here. The National Park is home to a wide variety of Australian wildlife and birds, including several species of kangaroo, dingo, possums, emus and red foxes. You may also encounter reptiles here including bobtail and snakes.

The wildlife here offers some great photo opportunities if you’re lucky enough to spot them. But remember, try not to disturb any of Australia’s precious wildlife.

In addition, Nambung National Park is bordered to the West by the Indian Ocean. Here you can often spot sea lions and dolphins, and you may even catch sight of humpback whales if you visit during their migrating seasons.

The natural beauty of the area is also enhanced by the many rare plants and flowers that grow here, as well as the beautiful beaches at Hangover Bay and Kangaroo Point. You can also enjoy the sight of the Nambung River as it curves its way into the natural limestone caves found in the park.


Things to do in Nambung National Park

The Pinnacles and Nambung National Park are located close to the charming coastal towns of Cervantes and Jurien Bay. Here you’ll find plenty of other natural attractions to explore, as well as the chance to participate in a wide variety of Jurien Bay tours and activities including water sports and skydiving!

You can also take the opportunity to visit the Southern Beekeepers Nature Reserve to the north of Nambung, an area with lots of fascinating flora and fauna to photograph.

The Pinnacles Desert is also within easy travelling distance from Perth, the capital of Western Australia.

Read our Jurien Bay Travel Guide »


How to Get to the Pinnacles

Nambung National Park, WA.

If you're coming from Perth, head north on Wanneroo Road, which turns into Indian Ocean Drive. There is a clearly marked turning for the Pinnacles on the right.

This is a scenic drive up the Coral Coast that takes approximately two hours.

Alternatively, from Cervantes, it's a short 2-km drive south to reach the Nambung National Park boundary. From there, drive for a further 14 km to the Pinnacles car park.

If you’re looking for some interesting stops along the way as you journey up the Coral Coast, follow this Perth to Jurien Bay road trip guide.


Commonly Asked Questions About the Pinnacles


When is the best time of day to visit the Pinnacles?

You can visit at any time, as long as you leave the National Park by 9pm. If you’re looking for some spectacular photo opportunities, visit the Pinnacles at sunset. You can then explore the area after dark. But please remember to look up as there are some truly stunning views of the Milky Way to be seen from here.

If you don’t feel comfortable exploring the park by yourself after dark, you can always join a guided tour, which is often the best way to see all the sights.


Is there a good time of year to visit?

You can visit the Pinnacles year-round, offering every visitor a memorable experience no matter when you are here. However, the most popular tourist season is between August and October as the weather is warm and comfortable, and you can see a beautiful display of wildflowers at this time of year.


How much does it cost to get into the Pinnacles Desert?

If you plan to drive a vehicle carrying 12 people or less, you will need to pay an entry fee of $15 per vehicle. You can have absolute confidence that your money is going to a good cause. The entry fees are used to pay for the maintenance of the National Park and its facilities, as well as environmental protection.


Where is the best place to stay to visit Nambung National Park?

There is no accommodation available in the National Park itself. However, you can find plenty of accommodation in Jurien Bay and Cervantes, which are the nearest towns to the park. There are options here to suit all travellers, even if you’re travelling with pets (on the powered or unpowered sites).


Find More Information at the Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre

A visit to the Pinnacles Desert to view the amazing limestone formations is an unforgettable experience.

If you are thinking of visiting the area and you would like more information, we recommend visiting the Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre. The centre is perfect for visitors seeking displays, videos and soundscapes showcasing the amazing natural landscape and heritage of the area.


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