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Velo-City: Perth » Fish, flowers and fossils – Cervantes has it all

Fish, flowers and fossils – Cervantes has it all


A TWO DAY TOUR WITHIN EASY REACH OF PERTH
For natural attractions per metre, the fishing village of Cervantes, 250km north of Perth, is hard to beat. The recent opening of the Indian Ocean Drive has not only cut the travel time from Perth, but provides good quality, quiet, scenic road access for cyclists wanting to explore the attractions of the region, making the coastal village the ideal base for a weekend of cycle touring. As we drew in to town we were greeted by some colourful, but slightly unnerving, humanoid sculptures – a precursor to the local arts festival. The cycling theme of some of the sculptures seemed like an omen that a good cycling weekend was ahead of us.

Strange cyclists popped up all over town in preparation for the Cervantes Arts Festival

 

DAY ONE

On Day One, the essential ride is the loop out to the Pinnacles, which are located 15km south of Cervantes. From the township, head out on Cervantes Road for almost 2km then  turn right onto the Pinnacles Road. The road is sealed all 15km to the start of the desert. Entry to the Park is free for cyclists. There is a visitor centre, where bikes can be secured if you want to walk through the Pinnacles, but the 1.2km loop, although sandy, is firm and can easily be traversed on a road bike. It’s an amazing feeling to ride through the desert, not only because of the unique appearance of the outcrops themselves, but because of the diverse landscape. Some sections are bounded by scrub, while others have enormous snow-white sand dunes at their boundary, and along the western edge you can see the ocean nearby. Make sure to take plenty of water, as there is no drinking water available in the Park.

From the Pinnacles, head back into Cervantes (39km so far), but 500m before the township, take a left hand turn to Lake Thetis along Hansen Bay Road. This road is unsealed and very corrugated, so those on mountainbikes or hybrids with suspension will be a lot more comfortable than the roadies. The corrugations only last for 800m, and then you turn left at a hand-written sign to “stromatolites”. Although still unsealed, this last 500m is much smoother. Be consoled by the thought that the road is just as uncomfortable for drivers as for cyclists.
http://velocitywa.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/cervantes6stromatolites.jpg
These stromatolites were built by colonies of cyanobacteria and have been growing for about 3500 years.

Lake Thetis can be circumnavigated on foot or by bicycle – it is a bit over a kilometre around – and well worth visiting. From here, ride back into Cervantes and wash off the dirt in the azure waters of Thirsty Point, which can be reached from Cervantes Road and is about 250m from the centre of town (we’re talking about a very small town here, you can’t get lost!). Total distance covered – just under 45km.

DAY TWO

On Day Two, ride about 3km out of town until you hit the Indian Ocean Drive and turn left (north) towards Jurien Bay, another popular fishing village only 23km away. It has a couple of good cafes. Continue 2km north beyond Jurien along Indian Ocean Drive, then turn right (east) onto Jurien Road East. Follow this for 12km then turn right (south) onto Munbinea Road. This will take you through spectacular wildflower country, but it is much hillier than the coast road. After 18km you will find the intersection with Cervantes Road – turn right (west towards the coast) and after an undulating 22km you will find yourself back in town. Total for this ride: 77km

Attractions of Cervantes
The Pinnacles are ancient limestone structures located on a sandy desert in the Nambung National Park and are best visited in the early morning or at dusk when the “painted desert” can be seen in its full glory.
The Stromatolites at Lake Thetis are the fossilised remains of colonies of cyanobacteria and are probably about 3000 years old.

Cervantes and Jurien Bay are in the heart of crayfishing country, so from November to April you can buy “rock lobsters” fresh off the boats for about $10 each.

From a distance, Smokebush (Conospermum spp) really does look like little outbreaks of fire.

This region is home to a diverse range of wildflowers, including the iconic Smokebush and Golden Kangaroo Paw, as well as a range of banksia and coastal health plants. Flowers are at their best in September and October.

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