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Cervantes, Western Australia

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The cray fishing town of Cervantes is your gateway to another world, the Pinnacles Desert of Nambung National Park. Regarded as one of Australia's most unique landscapes, you could almost believe you are walking on the moon as you follow the trail, passing thousands of limestone spires rising eerily out of the shifting sand. You can get to Cervantes in just over 2 hours from Perth's northern suburbs, following the scenic Indian Ocean Drive, or by hopping aboard one of the many day tours that regularly depart from Perth. The town itself was established in 1962 to accommodate workers in the local cray fishing industry and got its name from the American whaling ship 'Cervantes' that was wrecked here in 1844. You can still sample the flavours of fresh local cray fish today, but it's the mysterious Pinnacles that lie just 17 kilometres from town that lure thousands of visitors to this little enclave. Head for the Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre in Nambung National Park to find out how this curious landscape took shape and discover the abundance of flora and fauna that call it home. The park is a top spot for emu and kangaroo spotting and puts on an amazing wildflower show in spring. Along its shores, Cervantes is blessed with pristine white beaches, islands and reefs - the perfect playground for swimming, snorkelling, diving, boating and fishing. Hangover Bay is a top snorkelling and fishing spot and Kangaroo Point is a good place to throw in a line too. Accommodation options range from budget to mid-range, with a motel, backpackers, caravan park, holiday cottages, self-contained apartments and chalets. And if you're taking a break from the cooking, you'll find a choice of a la carte dining, takeaway and fast foods. Take a detour south of Cervantes and you'll encounter another bizarre sight - Lake Thetis. This tidal lake has salinity levels twice as high as the ocean, creating perfect conditions for the formation of stromatolites, the oldest and largest living fossil known to man.

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