Perth to Pinnacles Desert
By Guest W.A. Reviewer: Bruce
Much of the area north and south of Perth is scrubby coastal
plain. It’s quite flat and generally unspectacular. With one or
two exceptions, the roads are pretty boring for
That’s not to say that there aren’t some quite outstanding
destinations, however, and the Pinnacles Desert, in the Nambung
National Park about 300 kilometres north of Perth, is one of
It’s possible to make a day trip out of it, but our decision
was to overnight in Jurien Bay, then early the next morning
head down the coast to Cervantes, on to the Pinnacles, then
back home via Gingin.
The most obvious route would be to race up the Brand Highway
and turn left onto the Jurien Road and bingo! The trouble is,
the Brand Highway is not a road I feel comfortable on aboard a
motorcycle. It carries a lot of traffic, and much of that is
heavy haulage. When trucks, cars and motorcycles want to occupy
the same patch of tarmac, it’s inevitable that the latter will
come off second best. You can’t avoid it altogether (until the
new coast road north from Lancelin is completed), but you can
keep down the time you need to spend on it.
So it was that we headed north along Wanneroo Road. It gets
busy too, but at least it’s mainly cars and other motorcycles …
plus the usual grey nomads. The road is in good repair, but has
had some horrendous accidents as a result of poor overtaking
and speeding. Rather than upgrade the road, the WA government
has responded by reducing the speed limit to 90 kim/h until
well beyond Yanchep. This aggravates people who tend to put
their foot down. As a result, keep your eye on your speedo,
because the police love setting up mobile speed traps in the
Once into the 110 km/h zone, things are swifter. There’s not
a lot to see, unless you turn off into one of the coastal towns
like Seabird or Guilderton, just a few minutes off the main
road, which now has had a name change and is Lancelin Road,
because it goes to … ummm … Lancelin.
However, ten kilometres before Lancelin, you turn right onto
the KW Road. There are one or two nice viewing spots along
here, where you top a crest and the plain opens up in
front of you. You’ll run into a T-junction some five or
six km further on. Take a right-hander into Sappers Road. The
road meanders somewhat, but it’s a good road and generally
light on traffic. After about 16 km, start watching for a small
crossing over a stream. (If you want to stretch, you can pull
off the road at the bridge.) Just a short distance on, take a
left into Orange Springs Road. While this doesn’t exactly have
any twisties, there are, at least, a few bends to keep you
amused! Twenty minutes or so should see you at Brand Highway,
where you turn left. Unless you need an urgent stop at Reagan’s
Ford roadhouse, Cataby, just a few km further up the highway,
is a good place to have a break. Well, truthfully, it’s about
the only place to stop after Reagan’s Ford. It’s also slightly
confusing if you don’t know about it because there’s really
nothing there, except for two roadhouses, about three km apart!
They’re both typical country roadhouses but I tend to prefer
the southernmost one, the Ampol – the one you’ll see first. It
has toilets, food, fuel and outdoor shaded seating and tables.
The northernmost roadhouse, the BP, has another advantage,
however: it has a hotel/motel attached.
Back on the highway, and in about 30 minutes you need to
start looking for the turn-off to your left, onto Bibby Road.
This is a good sealed road, with only light traffic. Do keep an
eye out for the second largest wind farm in WA on your left –
not that you could actually miss it! There are 48 wind
towers on the Emu Downs wind farm, and they appear to march
over the horizon as you approach, like Martian fighting
machines in War of the worlds.
The next turn is only 10 or so minutes down the road;
another right-hander into Munbinea Road. This terminates at
Jurien Road and you turn left towards the coast. In just a few
short minutes, you’re pulling into Jurien (Bay).
Jurien was given its name in 1801 by the French Baudin
expedition, which explored the coastline. A fishing town, it
has become something of a “seachange” destination, attracting
local retirees as well as those looking for a lifestyle change
or a holiday resort. Consequently, it has a range of
accommodation, from backpackers to camping grounds, from
hotel-motel accommodation to B&B, as well as luxury home
We stayed at the Jurien Bay hotel Motel in Padbury Street
(behind the shopping centre off the main road). It’s a typical
country pub with separate motel units clustered around a pool.
Built, I would guess, in the 60s or 70s, the units were basic
but clean and comfortable. When the manageress booked us in and
saw we were on motorbikes, she gave us inside rooms and let us
ride the bikes down the veranda and park them outside our room
– literally – rather than have them visible from the road. That
was much appreciated.
Jurien Bay Hotel
The dining room was a bit of a surprise. It featured good
solid pub fare, plus a “set” menu which was, in effect, a tiny
buffet from a bain marie. No-one had any complaints about the
food. The pub had a live band that night which intruded on our
sleep patterns only briefly.
Breakfast was included in the tariff and cooked to order and
served in a bright, sunny room alongside the dining room. The
food all up was reasonably priced and filling and well
recommended – as is the hotel/motel itself.
Inside The Room
There’s plenty of petrol stations and as many shops as you
could possibly need, including a brand new supermarket. Repairs
are also available if, heaven forbid, you need them. While fuel
was, obviously, more expensive than Perth, it wasn’t horrendous
– and the people at the service station were lovely.
From there, it was an early morning ride, back out to the
main road, continuing through town, and south to Cervantes.
This is a fun piece of road to ride, especially early morning
as we did it. Most maps show it as broken, not going through to
Cervantes, but that’s not true. It’s new and sealed all the
way. Cervantes itself is no different from most small coastal
towns. It has sufficient amenities but not many of each! The
roadhouse at the edge of town does a nice line in fast food and
has a small “dining room” annexe to one side, where you can
enjoy your meal and a coffee, as well as fuel and basic
The well-signposted road to the Pinnacles is just out of
town. It’s a great road, with some good curves and twisty bits
but, sadly, CALM has seen fit to keep speed levels down to the
Once at the Pinnacles, you’ll need to pay to get in, but
it’s only a few dollars for a motorcycle. There is a desert
loop road you can take, which guides you through the most
accessible areas. There are lay-bys where you can pull over to
take photos. The road is sand, but mostly hard-packed. My
Yamaha Diversion on road tyres had no trouble negotiating
The pinnacles themselves (and there are thousands) range up
to four metres high. They are limestone formations and look not
unlike giant white ant mounds. The best time to photograph them
is early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is long and
the light warm. They are well worth seeing.
The Famous Pinnacles
Once back on Cervantes Road, follow it up to Munbinea Road
(turn right), then to Bibby Road (turn left) and retrace your
steps past the wind farm to the Brand Highway. This time, stay
on the highway for an hour, which will bring you within
striking distance of the Gingin turn-off to your left (Dewar
Road). It’s well signposted.
Gingin is a delightful little town. As you roll through the
main street, there’s a large park on the right, with picnic
facilities and shade. But at its far edge is a white building
with a car park out the front. This is Eliza’s on Granville – a
heritage building with a café/restaurant well worth the stop
for a pleasant meal. The food is wholesome, not expensive, and
well presented. There are public toilets as well, not 50 metres
Eliza’s Of Course
Or, if you prefer, take the next turn right to the Gingin
pub, which has been extensively renovated inside and features
an interesting and reasonable menu.
The Gin Gin Pub
Retrace your steps to the Brand Highway (it’s only four
km!), turn left and then immediately right onto the Gingin
Brook Road. Not much to see, but it’s only about 16 km to the
turn-off – left onto Military Road. (A quick aside: On this
corner, on the right, is Willowbrook Farm Tearooms. This is
well worth the day trip from Perth!)
On your left, about halfway down Military Road or a bit
more, is the Gravity Discovery Centre. For anyone with
even a passing interest in the stars, the cosmos and the big
questions of life, this is a must-see. It has telescopes,
galleries, guides and is situated right next to a major
Just a few minutes later, you’re at Wanneroo Road. Turn left
and you’re in Perth not much more than half an hour later.
There you have it. Total distance for two days is somewhere
around 600 kilometres, which is just about right, especially if
you’re carrying a pillion. It’s all tar and all good tar. You
can find the route easily on Google maps and print yourself out
a map and written route directions. It’s a weekend well
Publishers Note: I reckon Bruce did a
fantastic job of describing this great ride. If you’d like to
see your favourite ride on the site, no problems! I can
interview you over the phone and publish in audio podcast form,
or you can write one, just like Bruce. I will do whatever I can
to make it easy for you.
Got a comment? and I'll publish
it below this article.. Cheers!