Drive 200 km north of Perth along Indian Ocean Drive and you will find the coastal town of Cervantes. Indian Ocean Drive is a semi coastal road flanked by a mix of greenery, sand dunes and the sea. This road is notorious for fatal car accidents, so cautious, sensible driving is a must. We set off from Perth about 2:30 pm (not our original plan but picking up the camper van took a lot longer than expected!) meaning we only arrived in the area around 5pm so headed straight for Cervantes to get settled into the campsite.
Cervantes is a small town with a population of about 500 people. It has a petrol station with a cafe and an ATM with not much else. We made our way to the RAC Cervantes Holiday Park, which is the only campsite in the area. The Holiday Park recently underwent redevelopment and boy, is this campsite swanky! This is reflected in the price of A$45 for a night on a powered site for our camper van. The campsite has a cafe, pool, playground, recreation room, tv room, laundry room, showers and toilets, chalets, direct access to the beach and a fantastic camp kitchen. The kitchen was huge with lots of tables and chairs, sinks, gas cookers, a couple of ovens, four communal fridges, toasters, kettles and a large flat screen tv. You should have seen Andy’s face light up!
The beach at Cervantes, all of a one minute walk from our pitch, has fine, white sand and is a great place to watch the sunset. We were here at the end of August, which is the end of winter so only shared the beach with maybe ten other couples, all taking endless photos of the oranges, yellows and purples of the sunset and, magically, watching a lone dolphin pop in and out of the shallow water as the sun went down.
After our first nights sleep in the van, we set off about 19 km south from Cervantes to the Pinnacles Desert. I have never seen anything like this place before. The ground is like coarse sand and quite yellow. There are areas that have green bushes interspersed with limestone pillars jutting out of the ground in what looks like a random pattern. There are patches of bare ground and then other areas covered in pillars of various heights, some knee height and some taller than me. It really looked like something out of a film about life on Mars!
There is a self drive track in the park that is 4 km long and there are plenty of spots where you can park and get out to walk around and take lots of photos. There is also a 1.2 km walk, an information centre and a shop selling the obligatory souvenirs.
The desert is located in Numbung National Park and you need to pay to enter. It is currently A$12 per vehicle but if you are likely to visit other national parks in Western Australia and you are travelling for a while, then consider getting the National Park Holiday Pass which gives you access to pretty much all national parks in WA for four weeks for A$44. There are so many national parks up and down the coast I really think this pass is a no-brainer!
We then drove 50 km further north to the Lesueuer National Park. The area is famous for wildflowers (some which are found nowhere else in the world) and birds. I don’t really know much about flowers or birds, but we were driving north anyway (to Geraldton for an overnight stop) so thought, why not take a detour and drive the scenic route. The park has an 18 km loop road which is pretty but the most entertaining sight was spotting wildflower enthusiasts on their elbows and knees, bums in the air, trying to get the best photo of rare blooms.