3. Day 1: Nambung

North of Perth

Beach at Hillarys

Under my original plans, this was going to be a long day, reaching up as far as Kalbarri, which is something like 600km. However, after talking to people around Perth I had decided to only go as far North as Kalbarri the following day, so I had more time on my hands. With this extra time, I followed the coast from Perth Northward. The impression I had formed is that there wasn't anything worth seeing between Kalbarri and Coral Bay, which was too far away for my travel plans.

The car hire place didn't open until 8am, so I couldn't get out on the road until about 8:30. It didn't take long to get out of the city though. I left the Mitchell freeway and joined the coast at Hillarys boat harbour. This was actually quite appropriate, as in my previous trip this was the furthest I'd gone. Needing to keep moving, I didn't spend a lot of time there, and just took a few photos. I find the beaches around Perth curious for their surf, or rather the lack thereof. The surf is inclined to break visciously around your toenails! This would be because of the reef structure off the coast.


Seabird

I passed by Yanchep National Park, but didn't bother to stop there. It seemed to be too much of an urban park, and more of a picnic spot for people from Perth. Instead I continued along the coastal road (Route 60). Generally speaking, the scenery in this area wasn't particularly interesting to me. It was just normal coastal scrub, with the occasional tree plantation.

Along the way, I turned off the main road to go out to a place called Seabird. This was partly to get contact with the ocean again, which I hadn't seen for a bit. This was the first of a number of "5km detours" I made during the trip. Quite often there would be a signs pointing off to places around 5km or so distant, and sometimes I would take a look while other times not bother. Seabird looked to be something of a beachside holiday village. It wasn't all that pleasant when I was there though, because there was a reasonably strong wind blowing.


Yandin Lookout
Yandin Road

Another detour I took was to follow a little sign announcing "Yandin Lookout". This lead off to a gravel road going inland. I was interested to see what this would offer, because the scenery had been becoming monotonous along the main road. I was also keen to get some photos of some of the wildflowers.

The lookout was interesting, and sure enough, there were quite a few different types of flowers around. Two of the pictures here show the view from the top of the lookout. It was a bit hazy, so it was difficult to see too far into the distance. On the way back I stopped to photograph some of the flowers in a field by the side of the road. And no, that picture's not on a lean - it was on a hill-side.


The Road Ahead
I ended up spending more time than I had wanted to on this early part of the trip, and was starting to get a little worried about the time situation. I had also wandered further West than I had planned, and so I was running late by the time I rejoined the Brand Highway before Cervantes.

As these pictures show though, traffic wasn't a problem, and the roads were reasonalby fast too. It's all pretty much single carriageway, and there was some overtaking to be done. It did tend to be a bit of a problem stopping to take photos though, because after doing so each time, I'd end up overtaking the same vehicles the second or third time...


The Pinnacles

Pinnacles
The Pinnacles are a well known attraction, about 250km North of Perth. They are in the Nambung National Park, near the township of Cervantes. The attraction is the thousands of limestone pillars that stick out of the sand. They are the outcrops left after the erosion around ancient plant roots.

There are various shapes and formations of the pillars, and it becomes an exercise in imagination to interpret meanings. These pictures are from near the start of the loop road through the park. I had arrived here around shortly after midday, and the weather was pleasant. The entry fee was 9 per car, but I instead opted for a multi-park pass, as I was expecting to enter a number of national parks.


The wider scene

This picture from the lookout gives a bit of a feel of the pinnacles region. The entry conditions prohibit people climbing onto the pillars, but quite a few people seem to ignore this in the quest for the perfect photo of themself. I also noted a careless tour bus operator driving over structures on the edges of the track.

There were not a lot of people there at the time, but I can imagine that in the future this area may suffer from excessive people. That will probably lead to a reduction in the access available, as the current conditions seem open for abuse.


Creature challenging
Plants!
I took these pictures at the end of a deserted side-track. Although not as many pillars here, they were a little more interesting. One, in particular, has the appearance of a creature crouching on the rock. I had to get a picture of me staring back at it. All of the pictures here with me in them were taken using timed exposure and a minature tripod.

Aside from the rock pillars, the small outcrops of vegetation here were also interesting, although not very numerous.


Sprint trial
Guards
I though this one had a bit of a sphynx-like look to it. The two in a row made them look a bit like guards to some pagan temple. Maybe my imagination was starting to get a bit desparate by that point too... I tried for the photo with me patting it's head, but there weren't any handy rocks to rest the camera on. So that meant a bit of a distance shot, and a sprint after setting the timer. Anyhow, it seems that I made it.

There is a loop road that winds through the pinnacles region. Depending on the person, this could be conveyance from one photo-shoot to the next, or perhaps just the path for the air-conditioned cocoon to travel with the accompanying drone of commentary.

The red mark toward the right of some pictures appears to be some light leakage into the camera, which shows up to varying extents in a number of these photos.


Wandering
Kangaroo?
This is off the final part of the loop-road. In this picture, the height of the original plateau is quite visible, as the tops of the pinnacles form a plane.

I thought this other rock had a resemblance to a kangaroo. At the time there was a Japanese tour group wandering around the region, and they seemed to think it strange that I was walking around alone. They thought that I must have been lost. On the other hand, I thought it was strange that they were all clumping in a pack with little opportunity for independent discovery....


Alien
After the first circuit of the loop, I drove around a second time. This time I searched some of the areas further from the track. In doing so, I turned up some more interesting scenes. Although the rocks were smaller, the sand was less disturbed by footprints, and some of the rocks were less weathered. I think the one labelled "Alien" was the most effective photo I took amongst the pinnacles.


To Dongara

Thirsty Point
After leaving the Pinnacles, I entered the Cervantes township. This is a small town, and I expect it is sustained by the tourist trade. There is a lookout at Thirsty Point, revealing a nice view of the coast, but in my opinion wasn't exceptional.

With the afternoon well advanced, it was time to head North. I took the new coastal road along to Dongara. In some ways these roads that run close to the coast aren't all that great for scenery. The actual land/water interface at the coast can be good, but when just away from that, it is just inclined to be coastal scrub. For part of the journey I followed a gravel road along an inland ridge. In doing so, I saw some more wildlife, including a few kangaroos.


Jurien (?)

I was able to rejoin the coast prior to sunset, but a bank of cloud on the horizon dampened the sunset, and there wasn't much colouring. Once the sun was down, it was hard to see much in the way of scenery, so it was basically a direct drive on to Dongara for the night.

It was almost dark by the time I arrived there. At Dongara I stayed at the YHA, which was nice enough. Most of the people there that night were up fairly early, and away by 7am, so that suited me fine.

So with some sleep, that concluded the first day on the road.

Next Page... Day 2: Kalbarri