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30/05/2017
Home > Travelogues > 2010-2017 Travelogues Index > Mid West > Indian Ocean Drive
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We commence a springtime tour of the Mid West and Wheatbelt heading northwards along the Indian Ocean Drive.

Our tour will take us from Perth to Dongara via the Indian Ocean Drive.  We will visit the historic Greenough Flats, the  Chapman Valley, Northampton to Ajana, Kalbarri National Park, Port Gregory and Horrocks Beach.  We look at  Geraldton only briefly.  Our return journey starts as we head South through Kojarena to visit Ellendale Pool and Coalseam Conservation Park, and continue through the Wheatbelt.   

The Mid West is well known for displays of wildflowers in spring, and we saw them in colourful abundance. 

From the south west, we headed north to take the Indian Ocean Drive, a route which was completed in 2010 as a sealed road from Perth to Dongara hugging the coastline with areas of ocean views or glimpses.  We had been on parts of this route much earlier, when much of it was little more than sand tracks behind the dunes with four wheel drive access tracks to fishing and holiday shacks by the beach beyond the dunes.  

 

There are no 24 hour rest areas along the Indian Ocean Drive.  The Moore River rest area is not an authorised overnight stop, but it is well used as such and this is condoned.  Signs specify no campfires.  There are picnic tables, bins and a dump point. Being by a bridge on a busy highway, with room for only around half a dozen rigs at most, it did not appeal to us as a place to spend the night. 

Passing Lancelin we were in sandplain country ablaze with colourful wildflowers.  See our Wildflower pages for more photos and names of many of these flowers. 

At the Nilgen Lookout there are walk trails with some of the wildflowers identified. 

 

Below is a view across blackboys and low scrub to the ocean in the background, with kangaroo paws flowering amongst a range of colourful shrubs in flower in the second photo.

 

To the right are Parrot Bush and Coastal White Spider Orchid.

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Revisiting The Pinnacles in the Nambung National Park after many years, we found there is now a large Desert Discovery Interpretive centre, car parks and a wheelchair accessible walkway to view these unusual structures in the sand.  From there you can walk into and around these spikes of sandstone with a loop walk of 1.2 kilometres.  There is also a four kilometre loop drive through the pinnacles.  These shapes remain upstanding in a depression of rich yellow coloured sand, whereas the surrounding country is white sand.   

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The pinnacles were born inside sand dunes, when acidic rainwater leached down, cementing the lime-rich sand and binding it into clumps of tamala limestone. Vegetation on top of the dunes helped things along, by holding them together and by creating an acidic layer of decomposing plant debris. Bushfires most likely burnt away the vegetation on top of the dunes, allowing the sand to be slowly blown away, leaving the limestone pillars behind.

From Australian Geographic

Coastal towns heading north from here are Cervantes, Jurien, Green Head and Leeman. 

 

The Indian Ocean Drive joins the Brand Highway south of Dongara.   We took a loop drive through Dongara and its port of Port Denison on the mouth of the Irwin River.  The two are in effect now one town and a popular place for retirement and holidays, as well as being an important part of the rock lobster fishing industry. 

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Sandstone pillars remain in the eroded sands in the Nambung National Park near Cervantes, Western Australia.  Stones mark the loop drive.
The soft sandstone is eroding within the pillars of the Pinnacles Desert
Indian Ocean Drive
The Pinnacles
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