From Geraldton, the Brand Highway is the major artery south that avoids the lure of attractive coastal towns and will get you to Perth a lot quicker than the highway that hugs the coast. Our aim was to follow the coastline so we took the Indian Ocean Drive and we were delighted with our choice. For a road built in 2010, it was in great shape; we enjoyed the scenery on this drive along the “Gateway to the Coral Coast”. We decided we would stop for morning tea at Jurien Bay and check out the views across the ‘Bay’. The coffee was good but we decided that the town planner had exaggerated the idea that the town was built on a bay. There was a lovely beachfront but no headland within sight; a bend in the beach doesn’t make it a bay! Cervantes was not far down the road and were very impressed by the quality of the reasonably new RAC Cervantes Holiday Park when we arrived.
Cervantes is a small coastal town whose economy is based on fishing and holiday makers. After a walk around town, there appeared to be a fair few extensive houses that spoke of wealthy Perth residents driving up here to their holiday homes on Friday night. The town was named after a whaling vessel that was grounded off this section of coast. These days I suspect the town is more interested in the name of the boat rather than the boat itself. Not far from the turn off to the town there is a large art piece that shows a sailing vessel at one end of a bending pole (the “Cervantes”) and at the other end there is a figure that is presumably Sancho Panza, the knight’s companion on his donkey. The central figure is Don Quixote, the Man from La Mancha, the main character in Miguel Cervantes famous early 17th century novel, Don Quixote. This book is often considered the first novel every written and has been a model for other great writers such a Mark Twain. To my shame, I haven’t read the book, probably as I found Gordon Lightfoot’s version of the story much shorter and much more melodic.
In the area between the holiday park and the beach there was a large mural that was developed to capture the essence of Cervantes in one big image. The notes beside the mural explained that it was exploring “the duality of the landscape that surrounds the Cervantes area”. The central figure is a large Wrasse fish and notes the “coastline is littered with numerous wrecks”. It suggests that “the saturation of the Pinnacles has been increased to reference the alien like nature of their shapes” and “a lobster is positioned taking refuge behind one of the limestone pinnacles”. I felt sorry for the lobster as it clearly knew we were in town to visit the Lobster Shack (the large restaurant next door to the Lobster processing factory) and consume its unlucky brothers and sisters. One reviewer on Trip Advisor exclaimed, “The lobster was the best I have tasted and the prawns were to die for…”
We walked down the road to the ‘Lobster Shack’ and found it a large and impressive place. A half lobster was purchased and I was told it was delicious. While at the Lobster Shack, a friendly local showed me his phone which was illustrating the weather; a big storm was approaching along the coast. By the time we got back to our camper van, the wind was up and it wasn’t long before the rain started. Our van rocked in the wind for the next four hours so we assumed that this was a bad omen for our tour of the Pinnacles on the morrow.