We started our Western Australia holiday by heading north to the town of Cervantes near the Pinnacle Desert. Along the way the fields smoldered as the land had been intentionally burned for fire breaks and wild Emu’s picked at the charred remains. Sadly by the time we reached the desert the sun had already set but we decided to drive round anyway. There was no moonlight but driving round the dirt track in the dark was fun none the less. The limestone pillars looked eerie in the car headlights. The random formations are made from compacted seashells which have eroded over thousands of years.
We headed onto Cervantes with a plan to return to the desert for sunrise the following morning. It was worth the early start, we were treated to a deep blue sky as the orange sunlight spread wide over the horizon before turning through various shades of orange and pink. After two circuits round the dirt one-way track we headed back to our motel for breakfast.
On our way out of Cervantes we stopped off to see the stromatolites (the world’s oldest living organisms), which live in and around Lake Thetis. Colonies of cyanobacterial settle in layers to form the stromatolites. Bacteria in the top layers of sediment release oxygen to create sand bubbles. Part of the reason they thrive in Lake Thetis is because it is 1.5 times saltier than the ocean, and in these conditions few predators exist. Some stromatolites have been growing there for 3,500 years.
On route back to Perth we stopped off at the monastery town of New Norcia. In 1846 a Spanish monk, Benedictine, founded an aboriginal mission and monastery here. We had a look round the museum and art gallery which trace the monastery history and feature religious art. The Spanish architecture looked pretty in the Autumn sunshine.
The small chapel contains Benedictine’s tomb and some odd wall fresco’s including an astronaut, most random!
From here we headed onwards to Perth for the night.