Cervantes is commonly used as a base for people who visit the Pinnacles located 17km south.
Like Lancelin, Cervantes is another cray fishing town and the population virtually doubles in the cray fishing season. (Note. The Western
Rock Lobster is actually a crayfish but it was re-named for the American market to avoid confusion with the crawfish. These crayfish are naturally red unlike other
species that only turn red when cooked.)
The town remains less developed than its larger neighbour Jurien but is a firm favourite with holiday makers from Perth
who are looking for a place near the beach to relax and fish.
Nearby Lake Thetis is one of the few places you will find stromatolites in W.A. but in this area they are somewhat over-shadowed by the Pinacles..
A set of unique circumstances produced the pinnacles. Firstly the huge sand dunes stabilised. The rains which fell on the dunes leached down through the sand carrying the
calcium. This resulted in the lower levels of the dune solidifying into a soft limestone. As this stabilisation occurred a layer of soil formed on top of the dune which
allowed plants to grow and further cemented the limestone below. Gradually the lowest layer of soil, which lay between the surface and the limestone, formed into a hard
cap which resulted in the old dunes having three levels - a soil and plant level near the surface, a hard cap below the surface, and a thick layer of soft limestone at the
bottom of the dune.
Inevitably the roots from the plants on the top level found cracks and broke up the hard cap and the layer of soft limestone. The result was that under a surface covered
with plants and soil the pinnacles developed. No one knows for sure how long ago this process occurred. It may have started as long ago as 500,000 years but equally it
may only be a few thousand years old and it may still be continuing today. The Western Australian Museum has opted for some time in the last 80,000 years.
The advent of drier weather in the region resulted in the top layer of plants and soil being removed and gradually the pinnacles were exposed so that today they stand
like strange sentinels on a plain of wind blown sand.
Wind farms are appearing all along the coast of W.A. and while they may be more environmentally friendly than coal fired power they are not the most attractive things to
look at. This wind farm was established in 2006 and thankfully has been situated inland away from the beautiful coastline. The farm produces 80 megawatts of power and
reduces greenhouse gasses by over 200,000 tons a year.
Cervantes was primarily a fishing town north of Perth that was named after an American whaling ship wrecked off the coast in 1844.
The survivors of the wreck then had to face a long walk, some 160km south,
to Fremantle. The name Cervantes also has a connection with the author of Don Quixote (Miguel Cervantes)
and many street names are derived from the book.
The Cervantes was captained by Sylvanus Gibson. The Inquirer and Commercial News reported the incident on July 10th 1844 as follows:
'On Saturday evening between eight and nine o'clock, three seamen belonging to the American whale ship Cervantes, of New Bedford, arrived at Fremantle in an exhausted state,
and reported the wreck of that vessel upon an island in Jurien Bay, about 100 miles northward of this. Yesterday, the master, Captain Gibson, and some
more of the crew arrived and stated that the vessel was wrecked on the 29th June and that one man had been left about 30 miles beyond the Moore River unable to proceed further,
and that six others, after walking some distance with them, had returned to the wreck, with the intention of making their way here in a boat. The vessel was but a short time from
America and had only about 10 barrels of oil. The master reports that the vessel is but very little damaged, and likely to remain in a perfect state for a long time. He has applied
to the government to send the Champion in search of the missing men, and to bring the effects of himself and crew - an application which will doubtless be complied with. The poor
fellows, who are of course, in a destitute state, have been provided for by R.M.B Brown Esq., the Resident Magistrate.'
Although the ship was only slightly damaged it was too far away to be a good prospect for recovery. Captain Gibson decided to put it up for auction and was purchased by Mr. Wickstead
for 155 pounds. Everything removable was taken off the ship and the remains were re-discovered in 1969. A number of pearl shells were found in the remains of the ship, shells that
are not found near Jurien, so had the Americans been collecting shell with a view to selling it? It is interesting to contemplate what might have been if they had kicked off the
pearling industry at a much earlier date.
The town was established in 1962 when 505 Ha of land was excised from the national park and the townsite was gazetted in 1963.
Since the completion of the Indian Ocean Drive the town, like others along the coast, has seen more development and has become a popular place for
TALL TALES AND TRUE
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Pinnacles, Fishing, Kangaroo Point, Hangover Bay, Lake Thetis.
BUILDINGS OF NOTE
State : Moore
Federal : Durack
Postcode : 6511
Local Government : Shire of Dandaragan
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