"The Pinnacles" State of Western Australia Things to Do Tip by iandsmith

State of Western Australia Things to Do: 392 reviews and 878 photos

  Lots of things standing up
by iandsmith
 
  • Lots of things standing up - State of Western Australia
      Lots of things standing up
    by iandsmith
  • All sorts of shapes - State of Western Australia
      All sorts of shapes
    by iandsmith
  • ...and sizes - State of Western Australia
      ...and sizes
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  • What it looks like beside the park - State of Western Australia
      What it looks like beside the park
    by iandsmith
 

What can I tell you about the Pinnacles that you don?t already know. Probably not much but the basic facts are that the vegetation is in absentia around these pillars and that?s why these 2-4 metre bits of ancient limestone have come to the attention of tourists.
Another thing you may not know is that Billy Connolly danced naked around them. That would also attract a certain type of tourist.
There?s a few hectares of them and it?s well signposted how to get there so you shouldn?t get lost. Located just 17 kilometres in Nambung National Park they are very popular. Personally I thought they were good but didn't get as excited as some other VTers about them.
It did make a nice break in our journey north however.
Sunset is one of the preferred times to be there and many stay just to try and get ?that? shot.
The raw material for the limestone of the pinnacles came from sea shells in an earlier epoch rich in marine life. Broken down into lime-rich sands they were brought ashore by waves and then carried inland by the wind to form high, mobile dunes. Three old systems of sand dunes run parallel to the WA coast, marking ancient shorelines.
The oldest of these, known as the Spearwood dune system, is characterised by yellow or brownish sands. In winter, rain, which is slightly acidic, dissolves small amounts of calcium carbonate as it percolates down through the sand. As the dune dries out during summer, this is precipitated as a cement around grains of sand in the lower levels of the dunes, binding them together and eventually producing a hard limestone rock, known as Tamala Limestone. This is also visible at Kalbarri.
At the same time, vegetation that became established on the surface aided this process. Plant roots stabilised the surface, and encouraged a more acidic layer of soil and humus (containing decayed plant and animal matter) to develop over the remaining quartz sand.
The acidic soil accelerated the leaching process, and a hard layer of calcrete formed over the softer limestone below. Cracks which formed in the calcrete layer were exploited by plant roots. When water seeped down along these channels, the softer limestone beneath was slowly leached away and the channels gradually filled with quartz sand. This subsurface erosion continued until only the most resilient columns remained. The Pinnacles, then, are the eroded remnants of the formerly thick bed of limestone.
As bush fires denuded the higher areas, south-westerly winds carried away the loose quartz sands and left these limestone pillars standing up to three and a half metres high.
Although the formation of the Pinnacles would have taken many thousands of years, they were probably only exposed in quite recent times. Aboriginal artefacts at least 6,000 years old have been found in the Pinnacles Desert despite no recent evidence of Aboriginal occupation. This tends to suggest that the Pinnacles were exposed about 6,000 years ago and then covered up by shifting sands, before being exposed again in the last few hundred years.

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  • Updated Sep 2, 2008
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iandsmith

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