The Weird Otherworldly Moon Walk Pinnacles Desert Tour Most Australians Haven’t Taken
When I headed to Western Australia for my first big International Petsitting Adventure, I had no idea I would be taking a moon walk through an weird otherworldly reserve where female-only sacred aboriginal ceremonies were once held amongst ghost spires.
Thus is the joy of spontaneous travel discovery. And thus was the mystical, magical wonder of Pinnacles Desert, one of Australia’s most weird and offbeat travel destinations.
Why Aussies don’t visit this Wonderfully Weird World of Wow
If the Pinnacles Desert is visited by 250,000 people per year, making it the most popular attraction in all of Western Australia, why is it that most Australians have never seen it?
Anecdotally, a majority of Aussies would rather visit other countries than to venture farther west than Adelaide in their own country. Flights to Auckland, Singapore, Bali, Manila and Taipei, to name just a few, are cheaper than they are to the Australia’s own capital city of Perth. And the common belief is that there’s more to do at the end of those overseas flights than there is at the end of the trek to Western Australia.
Luckily I didn’t Google any of this before I found myself in Cervantes, Western Australia, population 527. If I had, I might have missed something exceptionally offbeat and memorable. The authentically weird things around planet earth are always the most memorable to me.
The Pinnacles Desert reserve is an area within the Namburg National Park. The rock formations of the Pinnacles Desert look like a fabricated Hollywood version of an otherworldly planet. Think a Captain Kirk landing party version of an unknown planet discovered at the end of some wormhole… It looks kinda cheesy like that. Until you realize that the Pinnacles Desert is not a b-movie papier-mâché set. Then it’s weirdly cool.
So how did this weird wonder of the world in an isolated part of Western Australia come to be?
There’s still some unknowns about the birth of these weird lunar-looking pinnacle structures. But what IS known is that the primary material that formed the pinnacles is sea shells, which broke down into limestone-rich sand over time. The pinnacles actually formed BELOW the surface and then, over time. wind erosion blew away the loose sand around them to reveal the solid limestone formations, which now tower above the surface.
There’s a little more to the creation story than that, which involves water, tree roots and plants. I don’t really get it all, but learning about it did add some depth to the wonder of the mystical place. So you might want to do a Pinnacles Desert guided tour to get the details from an expert.
8 Fun Facts About the Pinnacles Desert in Western Australia
Fun Fact #1
These pinnacle structures were formed 25,000 – 30,000 years ago.
Fun Fact #2
The tallest pinnacle formation is 3.5 meters, or 11 1/2 feet.
Fun Fact #3
The Pinnacles Desert reserve is 17,487 hectares, (2 1/2 acres), which is how much land you would need to raise 13.72 sheep
Fun Fact #4
Western grey kangaroos hop wild and free throughout the entire Namburg National Park. Other native residents of the Pinnacles Desert include possums, wallabies, snakes, lizards and emus. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we didn’t spot any of these while we were there.
Fun Fact #5
The Pinnacles Desert area first appeared on Dutch maps in 1658. Reportedly they believed it to be some kind of a “lost city” due to its weird and supernatural landscape.
Fun Fact #6
Legend has it that the Aboriginal people considered the Pinnacles Desert to be sacred, but they also avoided it because the pinnacle spires were believed to be fossilized ghosts.
Fun Fact #7
Reportedly aboriginal women were less afraid of the weird Pinnacle Desert ghost spires and would gather in the sacred space of the PInnacles Desert to camp, give birth and engage in other female-oriented ceremonies.
Fun Fact #8
About 250,000 people visit the Pinnacles Desert every year.
The Best Season to Visit the Pinnacles Desert
The best season to visit is when the weather is best in Western Australia. That would be September through November, which is Springtime in the land Down Under. December through February is Aussie summer when the average high temperature in Western Australia is about 32C/90F. And, by the way, air conditioning – even in hotel accommodations – is a rare thing in most parts of Australia.
How to travel to the Pinnacles Desert in Western Australia
The Pinnacles Desert inside the Namburg National Park, is located roughly 200km, or 124 miles northwest of Perth. The closest city is Cervantes. If you don’t have a car, you can take a public bus. You can also book a guided tour, which includes ground transportation.
Why a Trip to the Pinnacles Desert in Western Australia is Worth It
Besides the visual uniqueness of the shapes and textures in the Pinnacles Desert, my experience was that the Pinnacles Desert was also an ever- changing spectacle. As the day wore on, the shifting light continuously changed the colors and mood of the reserve and everything in it.
Just by changing your viewpoint it was possible to get a totally different experience. That’s a mystical reminder from the Universe about the way life works no matter where you travel.
What Makes the Pinnacles Desert So Popular with Australian Visitors?
The Pinnacles Desert is a popular travel destination because it is a completely unique and immersive experience. As you’re wandering among the weird pinnacle formations, you half expect that the Law of Gravity will be suspended at any minute and you will need lead in your shoes in order to remain earthbound.
One of the best things about my visit to the Pinnacles Desert was the knowingness that I was experiencing something that couldn’t be authentically duplicated anywhere else in the world. Appreciating that in the same moment that I was experiencing it was mystical and magical indeed.
And one last thing about my visit to the Pinnacles Desert in Cervantes that still makes me smile every time I look at these photos…
This, uncharacteristically, was an adventure I shared with three other people. Generally, it’s just me, petsitting and exploring all by my little self.
I met my Pinnacles Desert adventure companions at a professional expat Meetup event the week before. We were from four different countries, we were all born in different decades, and our reasons for being in Western Australia at the same moment were completely unrelated. We shared some laughs over our Meetup coffees and then shared several fun and offbeat adventures before I took off to New Zealand for a new petsit.
People often ask me why I don’t get lonely as a solo traveler. I tell them it’s because I have deep and meaningful conversation with my four-legged fur friends. Which I do.
But it’s also because I have a high level of certainty that if there are people in my vicinity who are an energetic match to me, some kind of serendipity will happen to make some kind of meet-cute occur. Sitting down at the end of a table of 40 meetup attendees to connect with three kindred spirits was the serendipity that eventually brought me to the Pinnacles Desert that day.
And that’s the mystical magic that means the most to me with this particular petsitting adventure.
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What a fascinating place! I can’t believe many locals don’t venture over to see Pinnacles – the landscape looks incredible! If I ever make it to Australia I’ll definitely check it out! Thanks for the great guide!
I hope you do make it to Australia (if they ever open their borders again!) It’s truly unique and I highly recommend exploring the West Coast. It’s worth the extra travel effort, in my opinion. Thanks for reading!
Wow, what an incredible looking place. I love finding unique places like this, and some of these natural rock formations really do look truly other-worldly. I’ve been to a few natural rock formation sites like the Hoodoos in Canada where I live, but this is so different because of the desert. And what a great time of day to visit. A little bit spooky but just magical
You’re right – it was kind of a spooky time to visit because of how the clouds rolled in. I’ll have to put the Hoodoos in Canada on my bucket list because I love the strangely unique places too! Thanks for reading!
What a curious work of art from Mother Nature! My mind wanders so much whenever I chance upon peculiar formations like these, how fascinating its history and beginnings must be!
I agree! Mother Nature definitely is wildly creative, artistic, and has a fantastic sense of humor! Thanks for reading!
I went to the Pinnacles about 10 years ago and I’d forgotten how awesome they are! And so many facts about them that I didn’t know!
I’m so glad you got to see them! They really are crazy amazing. Thanks for reading!
This has had to be the location for some sci-fi movie or something. You are so right in your title that this place is otherworldly, especially in those pictures with the moon and dark blue sky. I love visiting unique and off-the-beaten-path places like this. Will have to add Pinnacles desert to my bucket list!
Unless something has been filmed there recently, there’s never been anything big filmed here. Perhaps they’re truly protecting the pinnacle spires from human damage. Or perhaps the Western Aussies just want to keep it all to themselves. Thanks for reading!
Wow, I’ve been to WA but had never heard of Pinnacles Desert either! It looks so cool, although I think I’d still be a little scared (because of the stereotype of Australian animals wanting to kill you). 🙈
That’s funny! I think most of those killer animals are in Tasmania. Stay tuned for THAT post… Thanks for reading!
what a fun place. it definitly looks like you’ve landed on the moon! oz never ceases to amaze me, such an amazing country with lots of hidden gems.
Australia is a genuinely unique country! Perhaps that’s why Aussies are such happy people! Thanks for reading!
We have Pinnacles National Park in California, but these Pinnacles are way cooler looking. I like you can walk right up to them.
Yes – it’s very cool to be able to walk around among the pinnacles. It truly gives you the feeling that you’re walking on another planet. There are employees roaming around to make sure you don’t touch or climb on any of the Pinnacles, which is a very good idea to preserve the integrity of the whole place. Thanks for reading!
This looks like an amazing destination! I love finding locations many people don’t visit. Can’t wait to do this “moon walk!”
Me too! The true obscure off-the-beaten-track adventures are rare and wonderful things! Thanks for reading!
I definitely have to agree with you. This does look like a moonscape! It is indeed odd why sights like this are visited by tourists and not locals. Although I think that did change a lot this past year when we were all doing more local travels. Interesting that it was once thought to be a lost city. Definitely a unique sight to visit when we finally get to Australia.
You are probably very right about the weird and wonderful Pinnacles Desert being discovered by the Aussies in the year of pandemic-monium. Aussies do like to travel because no matter how big it is, Australia is still an island and people do get island fever! Thanks for reading! – Barbara
Wow, what a strange desert, indeed! I’ve never heard of the Pinnacles Desert, but then I’ve never been in Australia. Those geologic formations look really weird, but that’s what makes them so special. It’s interesting how you met your companions at a professional expat Meetup event.
The best part about my Meetup Mates was that we were such a motley crew! There’s really no reason the four of us would be hanging out together, but as expats in a country where we knew no one, we were perfectly matched! A HUGE part of the fun of solo travel, for sure! Thanks for reading! – Barbara
OMG! This is just wow! I haven’t heard or read about Pinnacles desert anywhere! A place where female-only sacred aboriginal ceremonies? Whoa! That’s intriguing. Glad that your petsitting adventures took you to such a far and unique place! As someone for India, I can connect to this. Going to a unusual location taking a connecting flight would be costlier thatn say, going to Nepal or Singapore! So yes I understand why this place is still an untouched gem. The rock formations are so cool. Thanks for explaining the geology behind them.
SO many mystical magical places on planet earth to discover, eh? I haven’t petsitted my way to India yet, but I’m REALLY looking forward to “living like a local” in your country too! Thanks for reading!