The Pinnacles, Australia: What You Need to Know

Back in the Australian Aboriginal dream time, young men were warned not to venture into the desert that sits inside the Nambung National Park, Western Australia.  The young men were warned they would be swallowed up by the sinking desert sands.  Aboriginal elders could see the remnants of past men as their fingers were stretching high out of the yellow desert sand.  Reaching up to be saved from the Pinnacles Desert.

We learn about this dreamtime story when we visit the Pinnacles in Western Australia on a weekend getaway staying in the nearby town of Cervantes. It is only just part of what we discover as we explore the Pinnacles Discovery Centre and drive the circle route through the Pinnacles in Nambung National Park. Along the way, we learn some do’s and don’ts of what you’re allowed and not allowed to do plus the etiquette of driving the loop.

Join me as we explore the West Australian Pinnacles Desert.

In this Article on the Pinnacles Desert in Western Australia You Will Learn:

The Pinnacles Desert with sand dunes in the distance
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Learning about the Pinnacles Desert, WA in the Pinnacles Discovery Centre

Whilst we now know that this is just mythology, scientists have yet to agree on how was the Pinnacles Desert formed.

T two theories of the Pinnacles Desert in the Nambung National Park, Western Australia were formed.
Sign in the Pinnaces Discovery Centre

What the scientists do agree on is that the Pinnacles Desert was formed over 500 000 years ago.  As the winds blew the shifting desert and beach sands, the Pinnacles were uncovered and recovered, the most recent uncovering being only a few hundred years ago.  Back when only Indigenous Australian Aboriginals lived on the continent.

In the Discovery Centre, a historical timeline of the Pinnacles Desert is provided along with theories on how the Pinnacles were formed.  There’s also a little shop if you want to buy a souvenir.

Europeans settled in Western Australia in 1829.  Yet it is not until 1934 that the Pinnacles are made mentioned in the public records.  It then took until the 1960’s for the area to become popular with holidaymakers and in 1968 it was made a national park – the Nambung National Park (Indigenous for windy or crooked).


Today the Australian Pinnacles is a popular destination for a weekend getaway from Perth – only a two-hour drive.  Or a stop during a long road trip, up the West Coast of Australia.  See below for details on where are the Pinnacles located and how to drive from Perth to Nambung National Park.

We are on a long weekend getaway staying in Cervantes (the closest town) at the RAC Cervantes Holiday Park with our main goal being to explore the Pinnacles Desert.

Exploring the Pinnacles Desert, WA

Having driven a mere ten minutes from the nearby town of Cervantes, we turn off the Indian Ocean Drive.  Making our way inland on the narrow road through the native shrubs (that in Spring will be a carpet of pink, yellow and white) we line up at the entrance station.

We stop, pay the Pinnacles Desert entrance fee and are advised to:

  • Follow the marked dirt road which is suitable for two-wheel drive
  • Park in the car bays only
  • We are welcome to walk about the Pinnacles Desert
  • Not to climb on the Pinnacles Desert
  • The Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre is included in the cost.
Inside the Discovery centre at the Pinnacles Desert in the Nambung National Park, Western Australia.
Photos in the Discovery Centre

We drive onto the yellow desert sand following the small limestone rocks that mark the 4km one-way Pinnacles drive loop.  It is almost as if the large tall striking limestone pillars have replaced the plant life.  Driving very slowly we eventually find a parking area with a free bay.  With our car parked, we set out to explore this barren landscape.

Top Trip Tip: Pull over in the marked parking bays so as not to block the one-way loop

The Pinnacles Desert drive in Nambung National park, Western Australia
Driving the marked dirt road

Feeling as though we have travelled to another world, we wonder why the Pinnacles have never been used as the backdrop for a movie?  It would make the perfect alien planet.

The pinnacles in Nambung National Park

Each Pinnacle is different from the next.  One is a column, another a chair, some are phallic symbols, others are like masks and a few are like groups of people.

Top Trip Tip: Whilst visitors are free to wander throughout the pinnacles do not climb onto them

Pinnacles formed like people
Many different formations

Some are small and squat, while others are taller than two metres.

Walking in the Pinnacles Desert in the Nambung National Park, Western Australia. Located just outside the town of Cervantes on the Coral Coast
Walking amongst the Pinnacles

Halfway through the loop is the lookout – well worth a stop.  From the top, we see how vast the Pinnacles Desert really is – a total of 17 487 hectares.

Looking out to the Pinnacles on the horizon

Top Trip Tip: Don’t forget hat and sunscreen as you stroll about

With its stunning views inland and out to sea.

Views from within the Pinnacles Desert in the Nambung National Park, Western Australia. Located just outside the town of Cervantes on the Coral Coast
View out to sea

It is all quite impressive, and it is little wonder why Tourism Western Australia lists it as one of WA’s top ten natural wonders.  How lucky are we, that people are no longer scared to visit the “sinking sands”, instead able to experience this unique landscape?

Find out more…

Tips to Plan Your Visit to the Pinnacles Desert, Western Australia



  • The Pinnacles are located within the Nambung National Park along West Australia’s coral coast.  The distance from Perth to Pinnacles Desert is approximately a two-hour drive north of the CBD or ten minutes south of Cervantes town.
  • You will either need your own car to drive into and around the Pinnacles or book a tour from Perth.

Entrance Fees

The Pinnacles Desert entrance fee is:

  • $15/car (up to 12 people) valid for the entire day (as at 1 January 2024).
  • Discounts for pensioners are available
  • If you are towing your caravan or trailer you will need to leave it in the car park whilst you drive the unpaved loop.
  • No pets allowed.  Pets are not allowed in any West Australian national parks.

Opening Hours

The Pinnacles Desert opening hours are:

  • The Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre is open 9:30-4:30 pm.
  • You are welcome to come for sunrise and sunset, please pay at the honour box.

Where to Stay

Learn More about Western Australia

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  1. What a crazy landscape! We had no idea this place existed, so thanks for putting it on our radar. Now we’re intrigued – going to have to go read up on these cool formations! #TheWeeklyPostcard

    1. Just one of the many stunning unusual pieces of nature here in Western Australia to discover Rob and Ann.

  2. This is such an interesting place to visit! I haven’t seen anything like this before. Australia surely is a very strange continent. I hope to visit it someday. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    1. There are certainly some unique features Anda.

  3. To be honest, I didn’t get the title of your post until I read further into the post and saw your pictures of hundreds of rock formations extending into the sky! This is awesome! I’ve never heard of it before! #TheWeeklyPostcard!

    1. I’m glad the title made sense eventually. Did the title have you intrigued or just confused Lolo?

  4. The rock formations are really interesting, I love the photos. It’s so nice that they allow you in the park for sunrise and sunset! #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    1. Yes, it is nice Anisa. If you are a mad keen photographer you would be I imagine you would be in for a treat.

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