The Pinnacles and more!
We spent the night at Jurien Bay, a seaside town that has something for everyone - fantastic fishing, great beaches and a good range of accommodation options
From Jurien Bay, we are going to see the Pinnacles located in Nambung National Park and then returning for another night here.
Before leaving, I went for an early morning walk and was surprised to find the seafront Café abuzz with people! The area looked like it had recently been done up. There was a new jetty, seating, interesting ceramic murals and a good children's playground. A shared bicycle/walking wove its way along the Esplanade.
The old jetty pylons were in the bay as well as Australia’s largest gull, the Pacific Gull.
This is a very big Gull, and quite a clever one, believe me! One stole my brand new fishing rod while on holiday in Tasmania, dropped in the ocean, never to be seen again. They also have worked out how to open shells to get the food inside. This is done by dropping the shell from a great height, picking it up and dropping it again until it breaks open and they can get to the food. Take a look at its massive yellow bill, tipped with scarlet.
Named the Pacific Gull, they are hardly ever found on the Pacific coastline. They are usually found on beaches beside the Southern and Indian Oceans. They breed in colonies on islands from eastern Bass Strait to Shark Bay in Western Australia.
As I walked back to the Caravan Park, I noticed a good selection of Banksias planted beside the Caravan Park fence. We were here in August, this appeared to be a good time to see them in flower.
The Banksia is native to Australia and has quite a unique flower that lasts a long time as a cut flower, then can be kept for years as a dried flower.
There are 76 species of Banksia, 60 of them only found in south Western Australia.
We decided to go to the Pinnacles first and were glad we made this choice as we arrived at the National Park at opening time, (9.30am), this way we had the park pretty well to ourselves. Nearly 200,000 visitors come here per year from all over the world.
We had to show our Parks Pass to enter, then we were given a brochure and information on what we could do. From here, we made our way to the very modern and informative Visitor centre.
I thought this was a very well set out and a really informative centre that had interpretive displays and multi-media presentations. Not only does it tell you the history of the Pinnacles, but what kind of creatures live in the landscape and you can see them too, even though they are stuffed! In spring, the wildflowers are out, and here you will find out what you will see.
Another interesting piece of information I read, said they were probably only exposed in quite recent times. About 6,000 years ago, Aboriginal artifacts were found. Since then, it is believed they were covered by shifting sands, before being exposed again in the last few hundred years. Even today this action takes place, so I guess the Pinnacles could be completely covered and uncovered again, creating more weird and wonderful shapes over and over again.
It really was a good idea doing this first as it gave us a lot of information on the Pinnacles.
"The Pinnacles are the eroded remnants of what was once a thick bed of limestone beneath the sand. The raw material for the limestone of The Pinnacles came from sea shells in an earlier epoch rich in marine life. There shells were broken down into lime rich sands which were then carried inland by the wind to form high, mobile dunes. Winter rain leached the lime from the sands, cementing grains of sand together in the lower levels of the dunes. Vegetation became established and stabilised the dunes. At the same time, an acidic layer of soil and humus developed over the remaining quartz sand. This acidic soil accelerated the leaching process, and a hard layer of calcrete formed over the softer limestone below.
Today this calcrete can be seen as a distinct cap on many Pinnacles and has helped protect the softer limestone below. Cracks formed in the calcrete layer and were exploited by plant roots. Water seeped down among these channels to leach away the softer limestone beneath. These channels gradually filled with quartz sand. The subsurface of the erosion continued until only the most resilient columns remained. The Pinnacles as we see them today were exposed by prevailing winds blowing away the overlying quartz sand. The Pinnacles, then, are the eroded remnants of the formerly thick bed of limestone."
It was back to the car to drive the Pinnacles circuit, you can walk around them if you want. Once again I was glad we were early as the road through the Pinnacles was narrow, there are slow moving vehicles meaning if caught behind one, you have to wait until you reach a pull-off, and you will probably want to stop there too! In saying that, this is no place for driving fast, you need to go slow to enjoy the sights. As you can see by my photo, the track is rather sandy, but is solid, so alright for conventional vehicles, just not oversize ones. Another advantage for us doing this early, was when we stopped to take many photos, we weren't holding anybody up, and we did stop many, many times!
I don't know the best time to come, although I have read around sunset is nice as the colours soften and the shapes turn a pinkish colour.
So, we drove slowly around, marvelling at these strange formations that have been around for 25,000 - 30,000 years! There are literally thousands of huge limestone pillars, quite a contrast to the surrounding low heathlands typical of this area. Some pinnacles are four meters tall, some are jagged, sharp-edged columns, rising to a point, others resemble tombstones, colours can be quite light to golden yellow, no two are the sam
A Galah can be a silly, stupid person, or a Rose Breasted Parrot, it is the latter I am talking about. We were here in August, which coincided with the nesting season of Galahs. We had previously seen many nesting in the hollows of dead trees but never expected to find them in the Pinnacles, after all, there weren't dead trees here so there wasn't anywhere for them to nest, OR was there?
Unbelievably, there was!
We saw several families of Galahs who had nested in the hollows made by the wind in various Pinnacles. We stopped and watched for a while, a head popped out, it was so cute! These were not silly or stupid Galahs, these were clever ones!
Lake Thetis, located in the Nambung National Park,happens to be one of only a few places in the world where living marine Stromatolites, or 'Living fossils' can be found.
As I walked the boardwalk to the viewing platform, I saw some Shingle back lizards and birds before reaching the look-out over the water, where upon looking into the lake's water, I could see many Stromatolites. They were nothing spectacular to look at, rather like an old cow pat lying in the shallow water, but it is the age that makes them very important. The drier months when the water level is at its lowest, is the best time to see them, it was like that when I saw them. The walk around the lake was a flat and easy 1.2 kms. Interpretive boards explain what Stromatolites are.
These Stromatolites were around 3.5 billion years ago, and the ones in Lake Thetis are believed to be 3,500 years old!
They are some of the oldest living fossils on earth.
Stromatolites @ Lake Thetis
Back at Jurien Bay, we took the road to Badgingarra, a nice drive over rolling hills when suddenly the largest Echidna we have ever seen ambled across the road. A car in the opposite direction pulled up the same time as we did, all of us getting out of our cars with a camera in hand.
The Echidna was in a hurry, so not the best of photos! I followed him into the bush where he began digging a hole to bury himself, another 10 mins you would not have known an Echidna was there.
The Echidna is sometimes called the spiny anteater and is native to Australia. It has 2 types of fur - A coat of short, coarse hair which insulates echidnas from the cold, while longer hairs act as spines. These are a creamy colour and are very sharp, rising when a predator comes near them, so don't try and touch one, as to them, your a predator! On a hard surface, they roll into a ball to protect themselves, they are quite safe when they do this, as nobody or anything will come near them then!
We were out in the bush, an ideal home for them as here were plenty of ants, termites, grubs, larvae, and worms that they find and dig out with their pointy snout. Once the echidna finds its food, it uses its long, sharp claws to dig into the soil and expose them, licking them up with its long, sticky tongue. Echidnas do not have teeth. I found it interesting that they can lift objects twice their weight and they can swim. I never knew a baby Echidna was called a "Puggle," and is born blind and hairless! Last of all, they can live to 50 years of age, perhaps this big one was an oldie!
Badgingarra is a small wheatbelt town with a National park of the same name. We went to a lookout and then I did a Wildflower Walk where I found plenty of new wildflowers.
The park is home to reptiles, emus, kangaroos and a variety of bird life including bustards and wedge tail eagles. A 2km trail begins next to the Badgingarra Roadhouse. This one has a steep hill with a lookout, so you need to be fit and allow 1.5 hours to complete it.
Adjacent to the Badgingarra National Park is the Vern Westbrook Trail.
I walked the 3.7km trail, that took me along the Hill River to the top of a breakaway that is named after farmer Vern Westbrook, one of the pioneers of the area.
This walk was a little different, as along the way are signs and sculptures made from junk. The children of Badgingarra Primary School, with the help of a local Artist, made 12 "junk bug" sculptures out of "found" materials. I thought the walk pretty easy going, although further on, some places are difficult to work out which way to go.
Every important site is signposted, so I easily found the old stockyards and dam, used by drovers who supplied horses and cattle for the Indian Army. Another interesting find, were trenches dug during World War II to defend the road back to the Moora Hospital from a feared Japanese invasion.
On reaching the top of the breakaway, it was time for a breather and a drink, at the same time taking in the views of Mt Lesueur and towards The Pinnacles and up the valley towards Moora. Once section of this trail was thick with bushes all flowering in profusion with pink flowers, a wonderful sight.
I found some Spider orchids, but not the purple enamel orchid.
The Vern Westbrook Walk is 3.6km east of Badgingarra on the North West Road to Moora.
Well, that was the end to another good day, particularly for the variety of wildflowers I found.
Tomorrow we go to Moora and New Norcia