The road from Kalbarri to Cervantes is 378 kms (4 hrs 7 mins), but offers plenty to see on the way.
Pink Lake – Hutt Lagoon
Hutt Lagoon gets its red or pink hue due to the presence of the carotenoid-producing algae Dunaliella salina which is a food-colouring agent and a source of vitamin A. The best views are found along the road to Port Gregory. The official lookout there has quite a bit of parking and is an elevated location so you can get great views of the lake. The pinkest views are between 10am and 2pm on a cloudless, sunny day. We arrived just before 10 and watched mesmerised as the colours changed, deepening from lilac to a very deep pink by the time we had walked the length of the lake.
Nambung National Park – showpiece the Pinnacles Desert – 10kms south of Cervantes. This spectacular desert landscape has thousands of limestone pillars rising from the sand. There is a 4km loop drive or you can take a 1.2kms walking trail – both are open round the clock, even when the visitor centre is closed. Either way, this eerie landscape feels like nothing on earth and is unmissable. The advice is to visit at sunset or dawn to get the best photos. These are such holiday unfriendly times though and EVERYONE goes then. We visited in the early evening, just before the sun set and found very few people there and some wonderful photo opportunities. There is an interesting Visitor Centre there to which opens between 10am and 4.30pm, but we visited early the following morning instead. It is definitely best to tackle the walk early in the day, before the heat rises.
No-one is completely sure how the Pinnacles were formed. My preferred theory is that they are a petrified forest. At some point way back in time (25 – 30,000 years ago), the wind blew the soft dune sand around here into the trees and it covered them up and the trunks gradually turned to stone. There is a limestone layer beneath which would have supported a forest, so that is a big clue.
The Aborignis where scared of the pinnacles. Their dreaming (mythology) preached that the pinnacles were the fingers of men who had sunk into quicksands and perished. All their young men were told never to go there.
It is interesting that no-one really knew the Pinnacles existed until the 1960s when people began to start visiting them in a caravan or two which led to the area being gazetted and turned into a National Park to protect it for future generations.
Glad I packed:
A fly net.
Apart from Pink Lake and the Pinnacles, which are absolutely unmissable:
We saw a little prickly Echidna slowly making bis way across the road in front of us not he way to the Pinnacles.
We have seen many kangaroos oaths trip, but the group lazing in the half shade at the entrance to the Pinnacles Desert offered the best photo opportunities so far and gave me one of my favourite shots of the whole trip – very special.
Just south of Cervantes there is a turn off for Lake Thetis, which has a number of living stromatolites on the shoreline. They are interesting, but nowhere near as good as those at Hamelin Pool (see earlier in the trip). Lake Thetis is a great place to visit after dark to see the Milky Way. We tried our luck but were disappointed – the moon came out and stole the show. The Milky Way photo is still very much on my wish list.
Give it a Miss:
Hutt Principality was ceded from Australia as an independent sovereign state in 1970S. You can have your passport stamped here and have your photo taken with the King. It is maybe sort of interesting, if you have loads of time to spare, but really just a tourist trap. Lots of the Aussies we spoke to en route advised us not to bother with it.