Nambung National Park
The unique attraction of Nambung National Park is the strange mysterious landscape, created by thousands of huge limestone pillars rising up out of yellow sand. This is Western Australia’s famous Pinnacles Desert, which attracts around 150 000 visitors each year.
From Perth via Brand Hwy, Cervantes Rd then Pinnacles Drive
All seasons; spring for wildﬂowers; can be extremely hot in summer, windy and wet in winter
245 km north of Perth
DEC Jurien Bay (08) 9652 1911
Permit required to land a boat at the park’s offshore islands, which are nature reserves
18 363 ha
Jurien Bay (08) 9652 1020
Cervantes (08) 9652 7700
Featured Activities in the National Park
Take a photograph of the Pinnacles at sunrise or sunset
Enjoy the view from the lookout over the Pinnacles and to the coast
Catch a whiting off the beach at Hangover Bay
Watch for bottlenose dolphins and sea-lions off the coast
- Nambung National Park, Eco-friendly activity
- The Pinnacles – Nambung National Park, Natural Wonders, Natural Wonders
A look at the past
Dutch sailors, during their 17th century explorations of the Western Australian coast, mistook the Pinnacles’ limestone pillars for the ruins of an ancient city. In 1658, the North and South Hummocks ﬁrst appeared on Dutch maps.
Aboriginal artefacts at least 6000 years old have been found in the Pinnacles Desert; strangely, there is no evidence of more recent Aboriginal occupation. One explanation is the theory that at some point the Pinnacles were buried by shifting sands, only to be uncovered a few hundred years ago. The park takes its name from the Nambung River that runs into it, which in turn takes its name from an Aboriginal word nambung, meaning ‘crooked’ or ‘winding’.
The park is dominated by coastal sand dunes and inland sand plains. Rising out of the plains, the Pinnacles are the remnants of an underlying bed of limestone eroded over time by seeping rainwater. The remnants were then exposed as the overlying sands were blown away, revealing limestone pillars reaching up to 3.5 metres tall, which have been sculpted into weird and wonderful formations. Some are jagged and pointed, others are more tombstone-like in appearance. A favourite game engaged in by visitors and tour guides is to identify recognisable shapes among the pillars; look for the ‘Indian Chief’, ‘Two Nuns’ and ‘Milk Bottles’.
There are many plants that thrive in this lime-rich landscape, including panjang (a shrubby wattle), coastal banjine (wattle species), quandong, yellow tailﬂower, parrotbush, thick-leaved fanﬂower and white clematis. Acacia thickets are common in the small valleys close to the beach. Further inland the landscape is dominated by low exposed heaths of acacia and myrtle, dotted with casuarina and banksia species (candle, ﬁrewood and sawtooth), and valleys of eucalypt woodland dominated by tuart (Eucalyptus gomphocephala). This majestic tree grows only on coastal limestone.
Most animals in the park are nocturnal, but watch out for emus and western grey kangaroos during the day. Keep an eye out underfoot, too, as reptiles such as shingleback lizards (also known as bobtail skinks), Gould’s goanna and snakes are common. Over 90 species of birds have been recorded in the park, including short-billed black-cockatoos (otherwise known as white-tailed black-cockatoos) and black-shouldered kites. At the coast, bottlenose dolphins and sea-lions are often sighted. Humpback whales pass by on their annual migration north between June and September.
While exploring the Pinnacles is the main attraction of Nambung National Park, along the coast there are beautiful beaches perfect for picnicking, swimming, snorkelling and ﬁshing. Kangaroo Point, little more than 7 kilometres from the park entrance, offers a picnic shelter, gas barbecue and toilets. The facilities at Hangover Bay, 11.6 kilometres from the park entrance, include picnic tables and shelters, gas barbecues and toilets.
Hangover Bay and Kangaroo Point are both popular ﬁshing spots for tailor, herring and whiting. Hangover Bay has boat-launching facilities (4WD access only). The offshore islands are all nature reserves and a permit is required to land. Contact Department of Fisheries Western Australia (08) 9482 7333 for details.
The extraordinary landscape created by the Pinnacles is a photographer’s delight, especially at sunrise and sunset when the soft light can cast a mystical and ethereal glow over the strange shapes.
Swimming and snorkelling
Hangover Bay, with its white sandy beach, is an ideal spot for swimming, snorkelling, surﬁng and windsurﬁng.
The Pinnacles Desert Loop drive is a 5-kilometre, one-way track with bays for cars to park so visitors may explore further on foot. The track is not suitable for caravans or trailers. At the northern end of the loop is a lookout, with excellent views over the Pinnacles. A ramp allows access for people with disabilities.