“The day started in Perth as we filled the Esky with road trip essentials. It continued along Indian Ocean Drive, a scenic route that teased us with sporadic views of the coast. It ended in Nambung National Park, a desert landscape that felt like another planet.
We were only 245 km from Western Australia’s capital city – but it felt like we were a world away.”
The Pinnacles Desert is one of the region’s most popular attractions and for good reason. A three hour drive from Perth makes it a long but achievable day trip. A half hour from the coastal town of Cervantes makes it an ideal long weekend destination. And its proximity to Indian Ocean Drive makes it an enjoyable stopover on the popular journey from Perth to the Ningaloo Reef.
I had just started an 11-day road trip with two other photographers, a reccie for a landscape photography tour that one of them, Glen Campbell, was running in a few months time. Despite being Australian, it was my first time in Western Australia, and I was looking forward to experiencing and photographing a contrasting journey of coast, desert and outback. And if this first day was anything to go by, I was in for a real treat!
Within seconds of turning onto Pinnacles Desert Scenic Loop Drive, we found ourselves transformed into what felt like another planet, mesmerised by our surroundings and in particular the colour of the soil. I imagined fictional ancient merchants, spilling large bags of saffron on the ground as they travelled through the desert.
But the main attraction was the natural limestone pillars that rose from the ground in their thousands, in a variety of shapes and sizes. The origins of these structures date back millions of years, from the sea shells that once covered the floor of the ocean. When the sea receded, the sea shells that remained compacted into pillars that were gradually exposed to the natural elements after thousands of years of erosion.
The lunar-like landscape and the late afternoon light created a photography playground. Despite being a popular attraction, the area is large enough to lose yourself in an oasis free of tourists, and we continued shooting until we lost the light, a frustration placated by a plan to return the following morning for sunrise.
It was an incredible start to our Western Australian photography journey and an extraordinary introduction to what Western Australia had in store for us!
If you are interested in combining an interest in photography and an interest in the Western Australia landscape, check out this tour being offered in June by award-winning professional landscape photographer Glen Campbell. I have enjoyed a number of photography workshops with Glen over the past few years and if our reccie through Western Australia was anything to go by, the ‘real thing’ in June is going to be hard to beat!
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