New Norcia to Cervantes, the Pinnacles and Jurien Bay Western Australia
28 Feb 2007
The visit to New Norcia will have lasting memories for many reasons. One minor one was a conversation between Sylvia and the tour guide. The guide, "The ants here bite". Sylvia, "I know, one just climbed on my foot and it bit me". The guide, "Well they don't eat much". So that's all right then.
After spending most of our spare money on the monks produce, we drove the 25 miles north to Moora. I don't know if I mentioned the Nationwide Building Society cancelled our credit card because someone had been using it in South Africa and Australia, but since then I have been using cash. The banks of Moora replenished our fortune. Moora is an old town and like many out back towns has a railway running through the middle and wide streets which formerly enabled camel trains to turn. The trains probably don't run very frequently as the sign directing you across the track to the public toilets did not even remind you to watch out for trains.
The new clock in the centre, depicting out back life and history in coloured glass on all sides which light up at night, is a main attraction, and the town also has several large murals on the side of buildings depicting its history. Margaret, our friend who looked after us at Adelaide, had informed us she was now a granny, so we were pleased to shop for appropriate cards and a baby present before moving on after lunch in the direction of Cervantes.
Our journey took us along secondary roads for most of the 89 miles across hills and dales, (or what ever they are called here). About three hours later we rolled into Cervantes which is known as the gateway to the world famous Pinnacles. Like, virtually all of the communities along this coast, Cervantes has a fishing fleet which mostly operates from mid November to the end of June catching lobster. You may have noticed a number of fishing boats featuring amongst our photographs.
After a walk along the beach and then a walk around the town, we returned to the van in time to watch Andrew Flintoff captain a winning English Cricket Team. None of the commentators could believe it had happened and neither could I.
Next day we drove to the Nambung National Park and the Pinnacles Desert which is part of this 45,000 plus square acre area. We were not sure if we should have come in two years time when the large car park and visitors centre has been completed, or if we had timed it just right. Anyway, apart from the toilets there was nothing to do but read the notices, walk into the Pinnacles Desert and follow the road round, diverting at times to walk through the pinnacles or take short cuts. Those with cars are allowed to drive round though they miss much of the experience if taking this option.
World famous? I had never heard of them but I confess to being bowled over during the two hours spent learning about the pinnacles and experiencing being in this desert. The idiots guide as to how the pinnacles formed suited me and I will pass on the knowledge.
One: Lime leached from the sand by rain cements the lower levels of the dune into a soft limestone. Two: Vegetation forms an acidic layer of soil and humus. A hard cap of calcrete develops above the softer limestone. Three: Cracks in the calcrete are exploited by plant roots. The softer limestone continues to dissolve. Quartz sand fills the cannels that form. Four: Vegetation dies, and the winds blow the sand covering the eroded limestone. Hey Presto, the pinnacles appear.
Easy isn't it, and there are thousands of them, all shapes and sizes from small to 13 feet high. You would think the world would be full of them but it seems they are quite rare. As we walked, the undulating terrain from which the pinnacles appear, kept changing. In some parts it was soft sand. In some areas the sand looked soft but was hard and in the shape you would expect sand to be at the bottom of a sea bed. Some areas were hard sandstone. The undulating dunes lead me to speculate.
It was easy to tell some had been taller as the broken bit was along side, but you still don't know how much is below the sand. The small ones, especially those on top of the dunes may be big ones in disguise, still to be revealed when the sand wears from around them. Some plants thrive at the base of pinnacles where rain water lodges; the consistently shifting sands in other areas do not allow a young plant to fix stable roots. Light changes as the sun moves, and is also dependant upon the terrain and the direction you are facing. I suspect no two visits would be the same.
It had been hot and we felt we had been well and truly in a desert. Prior to our visit we had received conflicting advice as to the worth of spending time at the Pinnacles. We both found we had shared a very good experience.
On our way out of the Nambung National Park we visited the coast areas of Hangover Bay and Kangaroo Point. This coast is called the Turquoise Coast, so named for the striking colour of its pristine coastline. We went north in search of Jurien Bay where they also have a fishing fleet; what a surprise. Oh, and more pristine coast line, so we booked in for two nights to recuperate. All this enjoyment fair takes it out of you.
Jurien Bay is popular for its windsurfing, surfing, boating and diving, in short, it's a water lover's paradise. As neither of us fit into that category we were just lazy. A leisurely long walk along the beach to a stone jetty brought the knowledge that this was a wall of the outer harbour and in the inner harbour was a small marina. We fought our way over sand banks to get to the end of the stone built jetty and took lots of photographs. On our way back to the van we inspected the layout for a new housing estate. All the towns up this coast seem destined for large development.
In the evening there was a free concert by 71 year old Buzzer who played guitar and sung old Australian country music, some of which he had written. Amongst this he told jokes and did impressions and the two hours past quickly by. We bought one of the many CD's available from his long recording career and are now busy learning some of the songs on the CD.
Sunday was spent catching up with van duties, diaries and blog site entries.
For more information about the Pinnacles, the pamphlet tells you to contact a National Park Ranger or visit Nature Base at www.naturebase.net