Observations & Photowalks / Studio & location

Indian Ocean Drive

Getting a bit silly, jumping around at The Pinnacles.

After some debate and a lot of agonising, Jason and I decided that our spring break would have to be short and sweet. As much as I wanted to go ‘down south’ and shoot wildflowers, neither of us could face the idea of a budget trip to Yallingup etc when it’s an area we associate so strongly with decadent gourmet, day spas and relaxation (and our honeymoon!). My constant mumblings about wanting to visit The Pinnacles, combined with the fact that a brand new highway has just been opened (slashing over an hour off the trip) finally brought us to a conclusion – North (ish). Having had two successful and comfortable stays at the YHAs in Melbourne, we booked into Lancelin Lodge YHA for the night.

We took Wanneroo rd all the way North from where it joins Loftus street (around the Mt Hawthorn area) although we later realised we could’ve just taken the fwy to Joondalup and had an even shorter trip. Oops. It was really interesting watching the landscape change and seeing the different types of plants that grow in the limestone type soil as opposed to the clay and sand I’m used to closer to home. Loads of grasstrees and wattles as well as fresias and coastal daisies as we got closer to Lancelin. Even though I know they grow further north and inland, I was slightly disappointed not to see any everlastings at all. I would’ve loved to have seen a field full of them. About the most exciting field I saw was one purple with what was probably Patterson’s Curse. It was a very pretty curse, purple’s my favourite colour.

An Aussie Christmas tree?

We arrived at Lancelin after about an hour and a half (although I wasn’t really counting). The lodge was lovely. Huge, immaculate commercial style kitchen and nice facilities. Compared to the ones in Melbourne it wasn’t as flash but it was certainly comfortable, reasonably quiet and just a great place to crash for a beach holiday. I wouldn’t say no to staying there again, especially as they have a woodfired pizza oven I want to try out!

After a brief nap, we abandoned the original  idea to go to North for sunset, deciding that it was better to go earlier and maybe get the sunset rather than risk missing it altogether. This became a very good choice later when we discovered the long, unlit drive we may be facing if we did leave Nambung in the dark. About 3.30ish we hit the Indian Ocean Drive again on a trip North to visit The Pinnacles. For those that don’t know, The Pinnacles are ancient rock formations made from limestone and seashells (news to me, I always thought it was petrified wood from an ancient forest!) located in a desert. Anyway, more about them later, more about the drive.

The new road is what my friend Katy, who has worked building roads, describes as a greenfields project. The workers basically go into the landscape and carve a new road out of nothing. I have to say, they were very neat! There wasn’t piles of sand etc left over. Everything looked really well rehabilitated. There were some lookouts being constructed just north of Lancelin, unfortunately not open yet but they will be great once they are. To Jason’s disappointment, most of the drive is long and straight with just one lane in each direction. Having left Lancelin about 3.30ish meant that we had some beautiful light coming through the clouds and where we got the odd glimpse of the coastline the water shone like silver. It was so beautiful. To my left we had flat, shimmering silver water and occasionally to my right it was matched with white-gold sand-dunes.

Pinnacles Desert – Western Australia
Self portrait using my remote control.
So, we got to The Pinnacles about 4.20pm (over an hour shorter drive than the old Brand hwy route) and were told that sunset was at 6ish. If you are planning a trip, be aware that it costs up to $11 to enter the park and the discovery centre closes at 4.30pm. It might also be worth mentioning the flies are unbelievable. Like the ones on Rottnest, these flies are immune to Aeroguard so you’ll just have to master your good old Aussie Salute! Of those available, we chose the 4km drive and it took us about an hour including stopping for photos.
Now, I’m an honest person, so I’ll be truthful here. I do understand why people come here to visit The Pinnacles. They truly are unique and I’m sure they captivate our overseas visitors. Jason saw a kangaroo so that’s kind of cool for those that aren’t used to seeing wild ones. But…maybe I’m too used to our WA landscape. I lost interest after about 10 minutes or so. It just looked like rocks in the sand, and it wasn’t even pretty sand. I’m sorry. I feel a bit like I’m letting down the team here but it didn’t really live up to the hype for me. I’m not sorry I went, but I don’t see myself going again.
Jason is 6’4″ and many of these were taller than him.
After we left The Pinnacles, we took a short drive on the (as yet unsealed) section of Indian Ocean Drive a little further north to Cervantes. This was mainly due to me not wanting to miss the sunset, but also in the hope of finding some lovely fish and chips as Cervantes is a fishing town. We headed down to the beach where we encountered the whitest, finest sand I’ve ever seen. This is the sand you see in pictures of the Whitsunday Islands. Amazing. A soft breeze was blowing across it and in the pinky/golden light it was gorgeous to watch.

After a little while we left so as to not be driving back in the complete darkness. We saw a joey (baby kangaroo) on the road whilst driving back. Luckily that was the only wildlife we encountered. I didn’t much fancy meeting an emu at 110km!

We left Lancelin today at mid morning and made our way home, with a brief stop in Guilderton. Jason used to visit Guilderton with his family when he was a kid so he wanted to show me as well as see if it’d changed much. It really is a beautiful place, I’d love to go and stay there sometime. The Moore River cuts its way through bush covered sand-dunes, then it literally breaks through the beach (you can see in the picture it’s not quite there yet) to meet this beautiful aqua-blue ocean and white sand. I’ve never seen anything like it before, it looked like a postcard.

Thanks for sticking by me through this long post! The trip took us about 27hrs and was a nice little break from home. It was really nice to see some new things and have a drive and I look forward to visiting Lancelin and Guilderton again sometime.

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One thought on “Indian Ocean Drive

  1. I'd never been further north than Hillarys until last week – its very cool how the suburbs of Perth just stop and thats kind of it, population wise until you hit Geraldton. The dunes and Lancelin were very cool and I thought the Pinnacles were fascinating (but like you, I don't think there'd be much point in going back). In some ways, the new road is a bad thing – more people can access the unspoiled bits now..

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