Narrowly avoiding concussion on Australia’s West Coast

Narrowly avoiding concussion on Australia’s West Coast

I read a lot of travel blogs. For me, there is no better procrastination than reading about places and moments that I’d want to experience. Or liking shark pictures on Instagram. But I am always interested in shark encounters (just… don’t, okay? Everyone has their weird interests) so I guess this does loosely fall into the same category.

This being said, I don’t just read other blogs to procrastinate. I also read them for inspiration. By reading a variety of blogs, I get a sense of what I want my own blog to look like and what I vehemently want to avoid. There are so many ‘content farm’ blogs – across all topics – that are just mass-produced lists, full of stock photos, cluttered with ads, with the sole aim of making money.

“Six paleo dairy-free gluten-free vegan places to eat in London”

“How to take the perfect Instagram picture in a city riddled with poverty”

“Top 47 European countries you NEED to visit this year”

I have no interest in my blog ever looking like that. The ability to ramble about small moments, only post photos of Tower Bridge and incessantly mention confectionary is a freedom I treasure.

I mean, this post is about a day in the desert in Western Australia but I’ve spent the intro rambling about procrastination and blogging. This is, apparently, what I want my internet space to look like. Though relentlessly following tangents is the only way I know how to have a conversation so at least, in this case, art mirrors life.

The great thing about showing someone new an area you know very well is that it pushes you to try new things. Mum wanted to make sure that Jake saw more than the inside of her brother’s house and all of Cold Rock’s Perth locations. To this end, she suggested we drive a few hours along the coast toward the Pinnacles and famous white sand dunes. There was also a lake full of prehistoric bubbles filled with cyanobacteria that she also felt compelled to visit. As I said, we all have our weird interests.

The Pinnacles are a collection of thousands of weather limestone pillars, located within Nambung National Park, close to the town of Cervantes, WA. The raw material for the limestone came from seashells blown inland, though exactly how the Pinnacles were formed remains a geological debate.

It is a totally weird natural landmark; there are so many, and they look so abstractly uniform, that it feels like they are the remnants of an ancient civilisation’s construction efforts rather than a mysterious natural phenomenon. Some are huge, some are tiny, some have either been stacked or nature has been hiding some seriously impressive telekinetic capabilities.

The Pinnacles cover an enormous area, which you can either drive or walk around. If you are able, then you should walk. Otherwise it is the world’s most static safari, and without lions to worry about the car’s protective shield becomes largely irrelevant.

We admired the limestone formations and then played a thrilling game of ‘where’s Helen?’ – despairing only somewhat at my mum’s constant desire to wander off out of sight in vast expanses of land or sea.


After the Pinnacles, we drove on to Lake Thetis, the home of the stromatolites. Stromatolites are essentially layered mounds or columns formed by years of cyanobacteria growing on top of each other and they provide a record of ancient life on Earth. While this is interesting in theory, they look like giant cowpats in practice.

Many stromatolites are found hypersaline environments (which means super, super salty places). This gave the lake the delightful salty foam that kept being blown onto us by the wind. I suggested tasting the foam – I wanted to test my taste buds against the hyper-salinity – but Jake gave me a look that said ‘I really don’t want to have a feral girlfriend who eats salty prehistoric foam’ without using those exact words. I did not eat the foam.

After lunch, we headed to our final stop of the day, the famous white sand dunes. You can cheaply rent a board and then go dune boarding. Of course, there were no helmets or safety regulations, which would come back to bite me in the future.

Everything was fine until we decided to race. We’d had a very nice afternoon, graduating from sitting on the board to standing and giving our quads an unexpected workout in the form of numerous hill climbs. But then, on literally our last run of the whole endeavour, Jake and I decided to race each other down.

Everything was going fine until Jake wobbled slightly and I tried to swerve in case he crashed, which only resulted in me crashing spectacularly and thwacking my head extremely hard into the sand. Unfortunately, with that much force, the sand behaves more like a plank of concrete than a pile of powder. Jake also face-planted, albeit a little more gently, meaning that when I rolled over and looked up I came face to face with the Joker, if the Joker took beach holidays.

We called it a day after the crash. I was not feeling good. The first serious indication that I wasn’t well was when Mum suggested we head to the beach and I said, “I think I’ll just stay in the car and sleep. You guys go ahead.”

Never one to turn down a trip to the ocean, everyone was concerned. Jake then realised I hadn’t spoken much in the past half an hour. In his words, “Ellie is only quiet if she’s eating, asleep, or upset.” Or nursing a recent head injury, apparently.

Despite Jake’s efforts to keep me awake, I kept falling asleep and slurring. They decided to bail on the beach and drive straight back to Perth, though did check the location of the nearest hospital. I was conked out for forty-five minutes until I was jerked out of sleep by Jake checking my pulse.

“I’m not dead,” I grumbled.

“Just making sure.”

Fortunately, the nap managed to improve things and we avoided the hospital for another day. I am not always so lucky.

This was a day of natural wonders. The Pinnacles, stromatolites and expansive sand dunes have been there for eons, doing their thing while humanity exists in the background. The West Coast of Australia is full of amazing, relatively unspoiled landmarks just like these. Nowhere is protected from climate change and pollution, but not everywhere has been overtaken by technology and modernity either.

Who knows how long these places will be around for? Make the time to see the places that excite you. Just try to avoid a trip to the hospital in the process.


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