Western Australia has a number of pink lakes, caused by a combination of high salinity and salt-loving algae that create that hot pink water.
Let’s take a look at some of the more well-known lakes and I’ll let you know where you can find these bubblegum pink lakes in WA!
On a recent road trip north of Perth in Western Australia, I stopped in at Hutt Lagoon, near Port Gregory, home to one of the most impressive and largest pink lakes around. Although 6 hours north of Perth, or 40 minutes south of Kalbarri, it’s one of the more impressive pink lakes in WA.
Hutt Lagoon spans 14 km (8.7 mi) along the coast and around 2.3 km (1.4 mi) wide with a large dune system separating it from the Indian Ocean.
So why is the pink lake pink? It’s the carotenoid-producing algae dunaliella salina, that is responsible for the cotton-candy, hot pink colour. This is a source of beta-carotene, a food colouring agent and source of vitamin A.
A series of artificial ponds along the eastern shore, farm the microalgae as a source of natural food colouring. It’s also sold for its high levels of antioxidants to the supplement and beauty industry. Brine shrimp are sold to prawn and fish farmers and the aquarium fish trade.
It’s this part of the lake which is a drone photographers dream as each pond takes on a different hue. You can see all sorts of abstract patterns in dark pinks, pale pinks, greens and creams.
From the ground, the water is still quite visibly pink but from the air, its colour is much stronger. When I flew my drone over the lake and ponds it was quite noticeable. This is probably due to less reflection overhead.
The lake is best viewed on a sunny day from late morning to midday when the water is its pinkest. An overcast day can dull the colour quite a bit. Apparently, summer is the best time to see it, perhaps the water and colour concentrate in the heat. Although, I visited in late August and the colour was still obvious.
Visiting Hutt Lagoon has apparently even become a status symbol in China, with many tourists flocking to the hot pink lake and local air charter providers employing interpreters for visitors.
Where to Stay At Hutt Lagoon
Because Hutt Lagoon is quite a fair way from Perth, you’ll need to overnight in either Geraldton or Port Gregory. There are no pink lake hotels in Port Gregory, but there is the Port Gregory Caravan Park that offers cabins on site. Powered camping and caravan sites are also available. Nearby at Horrocks Beach (#1 Mainland Beach in Tourism Australia’s Best Australian Beaches for 2018 btw) at the Horrocks Beachside Cottages. You can also stay in the historic town of Northampton, which is a half-hour drive away. Try the Northampton Motor Hotel or Railway Tavern Hotel.
You can also head north to Kalbarri which has a number of resorts or south to Geraldton which offers the entire range of accommodation from hostels to hotels.
The other famous pink lake in WA is Lake Hillier, which sits in the middle of the creatively named, Middle Island. It’s part of a chain of islands in the Recherche Archipelago off the coast of Esperance. It’s a 7.5hr drive from Perth and a great pit-stop if you ever do the Nullarbor drive across Australia.
Unfortunately, it’s a bit hard to get to but you there are plane and boat tours from Esperance.
Also, don’t get it confused with the body of water known as Pink Lake that is near Esperance on the mainland. This one used to be pink but its water climate has changed and no longer gets the hot pink hue. In fact, locals are trying to get its name changed to avoid tourists being disappointed when they see it on a map and rock up to a normal looking lake, haha.
You can find a number of salt lakes in WA’s south-west around Cranbrook, Pingrup and Lake Grace, the result of ancient rivers in the area.
Cranbrook’s Pink Lake lies east of the town on the Great Southern Highway, just south of Pootenup Road.
The Pink Lake of Quairading, located 11 kilometres east of town on the Bruce Rock-Quairading Road, is worth a look if you’re in the area. The lake is split by a road with one side of the lake being either greeny-blue or cream coloured, while at random times of the year the other side has pink water!
Another lesser-known lake with pink waters is on Rottnest Island. This is the closest pink lake near Perth. It’s not as bright or that hot pink of Hutt or Hillier, but it’s definitely a shade of pink. Fortunately, Rottnest has lots of other amazing sites to see and also, quokkas! A quokka selfie is always worth a visit to Rotto (as the locals call it.)
If you’re heading into Australia’s Golden Outback, you’ll find a number of salt lake systems strewn across the landscape. Morawa and its surrounds have quite a few salt lakes that are all sorts of colours. Checking out satellite images on Google maps will give you an idea of where to head.
Can I Swim In The Pink Lakes?
If you’re wondering if you can swim in pink lakes, the answer is mixed. While the algae itself isn’t toxic to humans, it does thrive in warm water which can sometimes have other nasties. If you just have to, always keep your head above water to avoid ingesting or getting the water in your ears and eyes.
As the water is high in salt, it may cause skin irritation so wash off with fresh water as soon as you can.
Other Pink Lakes in Australia
You’ll find a number of hot pink lakes in Australia with pink water, mainly in South Australia and Victoria. Melbourne even has a seasonal lake whose waters turn pink at certain times of the year. The lake, in Westgate Park, generally turns pink in late summer, extending into autumn.
In Victoria’s Murray Sunset National Park, lakes Crosbie, Becking, Kenyon and Hardy, Pink Lake near Dimboola and Lake Tyrell near Sea Lake, are popular tourist attractions due to their pink color.
In South Australia, Lake MacDonnell is the one you want to visit. You’ll need some time though, it’s 860km from Adelaide! But this mine-made lake has the stunning effect of a red-dirt road dividing the lake with hot pink on one side and dark green water on the other. The colour does change throughout the year so check before you visit as it’s a long way to go!
Lake Bumbunga in the Clare Valley is the most easily accessible from Adelaide but you can also visit Lake Albert on the Fleurieu Peninsula. Lake Hart near Woomera and the massive Lake Eyre also put on a colourful display at certain times of the year.
In the nation’s capital, Canberra, you can find a completely different type of pink lake in the suburb of Bruce (Eardley Street ). The pink is not caused by algae, but by pink water plants, an Australian native fern species called Azolla Pinnata.
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