limestone pillars in the middle of a desert

Pinnacles WA: Local’s Guide to these Natural Wonders 2023

western australia expert disclosure

Welcome to my post – I’m going to take you on a journey to a unique attraction in Western Australia – The Pinnacles.

Located in Nambung National Park, these natural limestone pillars form part of a unique landscape scattered amongst the sand dunes and are one of Australia’s natural wonders.

Living in Perth, I’ve been fortunate to visit the Pinnacles several times and have come to appreciate its natural beauty.

In this blog post, I will share with you my insider’s guide to the Pinnacles, including how to get there, what to see, and other essential tips to make the most of your visit.

our pick
limestone pillars in red sand in desert

Pinnacles Desert Sunset Stargazing Tour

Rating: 5/5⭐️ with over 570 reviews

Tour Length: 9 hours

This tour has won a badge of excellence from Viator and is currently number one Pinnacle Tour on TripAdvisor.

Visit the Pinnacles at sunset, the best time of day to see them. Enjoy a sunset dinner in the desert, and stay after-dark for an incredible stargazing experience.

Where are the Pinnacles in WA?

The Pinnacles are 189 km north of Perth and 29 km south of Cervantes.

How to get to the Pinnacles

The easiest way to see the Pinnacles is by car or on a tour from Perth. The drive will take about two hours from Perth along Indian Ocean Drive.

International and domestic visitors will fly into Perth Airport. Find details about visas, prohibited items, currency, and safety in this Australia Travel Guide and tips on arriving into WA and other essential travel information in this Western Australia Travel Guide.

There are car hire booths at Perth airport, but it’s best to pre-book your car rental.

To compare Australia car hire prices, Discover Cars is an award-winning car rental comparison website. They offer competitive pricing in over 10,000 locations worldwide and are have a high rate of customer satisfaction.

Drivenow is a good resource to compare campervan hire in Western Australia as it includes all the large companies like Britz, Maui, Jucy as well as smaller ones.

Compare Rental Cars Here.

Pinnacle Tours from Perth

🤩 Read this post on Pinnacle Tours to find out our Top 3 Tours!

wendy and the girls walking through the pinnacles in numbung national park

Things to do on the way to the Pinnacles WA

You can stop at Yanchep National Park, Guilderton or Lancelin on your way to the Pinnacles.

Yanchep National Park has a fee to enter, but you can buy a National Park pass if you plan on visiting more than one park (you need to pay to enter Nambung NP to see the Pinnacles). Here you can do several hikes, see koalas and kangaroos, take a tour of Crystal Cave, learn about the culture and history of the Noongar people or even go ziplining!

Guilderton is where Moore River meets the ocean and a great place for water activities and a picnic.

Lancelin sand dunes are the largest in Western Australia and an incredible sight to see. For some fun and adventure, you can hire a sandboard or drive around them if you have a 4wd. You can find out other things to do in this guide on the Lancelin sand dunes.

a man sand boarding down a large white sand dune
Lancelin sand dunes

What Are the Pinnacles?

The Pinnacles consist of thousands of weathered limestone pillars, formed approximately 25,000 to 30,000 years ago. Coastal winds eroded the surrounding sand dunes, leaving the limestone pillars exposed to the elements. 

Tamala Limestone (aerolian calcarenite or wind blown calcium carbonate), found along the coast of WA, was swept inland by wind and waves. When it rained, calcium carbonate in the sand leached through causing the lower levels of the dune to solidify into a soft limestone. Due to drier weather and erosion, the top soil and sand were blown away, leaving these formations.

You can learn more about the formation at The Pinnacles Discovery Centre, open daily 9.30 am – 4.30 pm. 

limestone pillars in red sand in desert
The Pinnacles WA

How to see the Pinnacles

A 4 km loop drive, which has plenty of pull-over bays, takes you through the Pinnacles Desert with opportunities to walk around and visit the Desert View Lookout. This road is unsealed and vehicles longer than 7m and caravans and trailers are not permitted on the track and should be parked in the long vehicles bays in the car park.

The Desert View Walk Trail starts at the Discovery Centre, with the first 200m being wheelchair accessible, leading to the Pinnacles View Lookout. From here you can see the ocean, one of the few places in the world that you can see the ocean from the desert.

an information sign for the pinnacles wa

History of the Pinnacles and Numbung National Park

The Nambung National Park belongs to the Yuat and Wajuk language people and was important to these semi-nomadic Aboriginals because of water. During the wet season, the Nambung River (Nambung meaning crooked or winding) made waterholes throughout the area, with the water streaming into caves. These cave waterholes became vital in the survival of these people for hundreds of years.

The Pinnacles are sacred to Indigenous women where the women gathered to camp, give birth, hold ceremonies, and look for food. According to legend, some men would walk along the path to this woman’s sacred place and the gods punished them for it, burying them alive. However, the young men begged forgiveness and wielded their weapons through the sand and are now fossilised ghosts stuck in the form of limestone pillars.

a sandy gravel road through limestone pillars
The loop drive in Nambung National Park

Please Look After Nambung National Park & The Pinnacles

  • Don’t light fires. Visitors can use gas appliances or the free gas barbecues at Hangover Bay and Kangaroo Point.
  • Put rubbish in the litter bins on the entry road into Cervantes or take it with you.
  • Pets are not allowed in Nambung National Park. However, free basic dog kennels for park visitors are located at the Cervantes Ranger Station, which is open 7 days per week between 8am and 5pm. Call (08) 9688 6000 for more information.
  • Respect the Pinnacles and do not climb, sit or stand on the formations. Stay on the roads marked and follow the signs in the park.

Other Things To Do near Nambung National Park

Lake Thetis

Lake Thetis is a small inland saline lake and is one of only a few places in the world with living marine stromatolites, or ‘living fossils’. The rock-like structures have been dated to about 3,370 years old and built by microbes similar to those found in 3,500 million-year-old rocks, resembling the earliest forms of life on Earth.

You can walk around an easy 1.5 km loop trail, which provides opportunities to see and learn about the fossils, geology, flora, fauna and Indigenous culture. The first 300m has an accessible boardwalk, which passes the best examples of stromatolites in Lake Thetis.

The best time to visit Lake Thetis is in summer when it’s dry so that you get a better view of the stromatolites.

You can also see stromatolites in Hamelin Bay, in the Shark Bay region.

stromatolites in a lake
Lake Thetis stromatolites

Hangover Bay

With its sandy beach, Hangover Bay is close to the Pinnacles, and is great for snorkelling, swimming, and surfing. Bottlenose dolphins often frequent the area and you may spot sea lions.

Beach shacks were present in the 70’s and 80’s, mainly belonging to farmers that would head to the coast for summer holidays. It is said that Hangover Bay got its name from people visiting the beach after New Year’s Eve festivities!

Hansen Bay Lookout & Thirsty Point Lookout

Hansen Bay Lookout gives you a panoramic view of Hansen Bay, the surrounding islands, Lake Thetis and Cervantes.

A bush and beach walk trail connects the lookouts between Thirsty Point and Hansen Bay. It’s especially interesting during the wildflower season and can be extended along Hansen Bay Road to take in the Stromatalites at Lake Thetis, then returning to town via Cervantes Road.

red gravel by a beach with lots of seagrass washed up
Cervantes foreshore

Where to stay near the Pinnacles

Have you booked accommodation?

We use for most accommodation bookings as they offer free cancellation on many properties and have a price match guarantee. We book through Stayz (part of VRBO) for private accommodation as we find it is often cheaper than Airbnb.

Tip: Accommodation gets booked quickly, especially during the WA school holidays. To avoid disappointment, book early.

There is no camping in Nambung National Park, but Cervantes is close by and makes the ideal base to explore The Pinnacles and Nambung National Park.

RAC Cervantes Holiday Park

The RAC Cervantes Holiday Park have two and three-bedroomed villas that feature a fully equipped kitchen, large living room and private bathroom facilities. The facilities include a nature playground, BBQ area, swimming pool, and kids’ activity area with a pool table, table tennis, and large screen TV’s.

Pinnacles Edge Resort

The Pinnacles Edge Resort have air-conditioned one and two-bedroom apartments and studios that feature either a kitchenette or fully equipped kitchen. The resort has a swimming pool, restaurant, and bar and is a 5 minute walk from Cervantes Golf Course.

Cervantes Pinnacle Motel

This motel would be my third choice if the other two were fully booked. The motel has an outdoor swimming pool and all rooms have air-conditioning but are looking a little tired.

Check prices for Cervantes accommodation here.

The Pinnacles FAQ

When is the best time to visit the Pinnacles?

The Pinnacles is a year-round attraction but the best time of year to visit the Pinnacles is September and October, when Perth’s weather is mild and wildflowers are blooming. The best time of day to photograph the Pinnacles is sunrise and sunset when there’s an orange glow.

How much does it cost to see the Pinnacles?

It costs A$15 per vehicle to enter Nambung National Park to see the Pinnacles.

Can you touch the Pinnacles?

The Parks and Wildlife Service ask that you don’t touch the pinnacles as they are fragile and can break easily.

How long do you need at the Pinnacles?

You should allow about an hour at the Pinnacles.

How far is the Pinnacles walk?

The Desert View Walk Trail is an easy, 1.5 km, 45-minute return walk through the pinnacles from the discovery centre car park.

Save Money Planning your Trip

Click on the links which will take you direct to the website.

Flights ✈️

We fly Virgin Australia domestically due to their competitive prices and fantastic customer service and fly with Qatar Airways to Europe.

Accommodation 🏩

We mainly use for accommodation as they consistently have the lowest rates with free cancellation on most properties.

Car Rental 🚘

To compare rental car company prices, we use Discover Cars, an award winning car rental comparison website. They offer competitive pricing in over 10,000 locations worldwide and are highly-rated.

Campervan/RV Rental 🚐

Drivenow is a good resource to compare campervan hire in Western Australia as it includes all the large companies like Britz, Maui, Jucy as well as smaller ones.

Travel Insurance 🌏

Cover-More and Travel Insurance Direct are our preferred travel insurance companies for domestic and international travel.

See this Travel Insurance for Australia guide for more information.

Western Australia Travel Guide

You can explore these awe-inspiring limestone pillars for yourself, but if you stay overnight, please consider booking through one of our links. It won’t cost you anything but will help towards the cost of running this site. Thank you.