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.
Just How Many Pink Lakes are in Western Australia?
There is a huge abundance of pink lakes in Western Australia, mainly owing to giant, ancient river systems that have now formed salt flats where circular lakes often form in the cooler months, although some are there all year round. You’ll also find other hued lakes in colours such as red, yellow, green, bright blue and brown.
Let’s take a look at some of the more well-known pink lakes and I’ll let you know where you can find these bubblegum pink lakes in WA!
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 WA pink lakes.
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.
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 found in the lake 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, creating an abstract pattern of 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.
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.
SEE VIDEO: Drone footage over Hutt Lagoon
Where to Stay at the Hutt Lagoon Pink Lake
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) is 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.
A little tip, if you’re staying Port Gregory and it’s overcast in the morning, look at the clouds to the north, you might be lucky enough to see pink clouds! The colour being reflected by the lake.
Is Hutt Lagoon Always Pink?
Yes! But its exact hue depends on the weather. On an overcast day it might appear duller and with a slight purple hue.
The lake is best viewed on a sunny day from late morning to midday when the water is its pinkest.
Apparently, summer is the best time to see it, perhaps the water and colour concentrate in the heat, but I visited in late August where the colour is still obvious. In summer, the water does tend to dry up in some northern parts of the lake which create nice salty abstract patterns.
Why Is The Pink Lake Pink?
It’s the carotenoid-producing algae dunaliella salina, that is responsible for the cotton-candy, hot pink colour in the pink lakes. This is a source of beta-carotene, commonly found in food colouring agents and is also a source of vitamin A!
Lake Hillier’s Pink Lake
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, 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 to the island so you can get your pink fix.
Also, don’t get it confused with the body of water known as Pink Lake that is next to the town of 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 getting disappointed when they see it on a map and rock up to a normal looking lake, haha.
Pink Lakes near Esperance
You’ll find other Esperance Pink Lakes north of the town in the countryside surrounding the Coolgardie-Esperance Highway. There are 1000’s of salt lakes in the area and some will turn pink seasonally. Have a look on Google Maps and look out for the orange lakes, they’re more likely to be pink in person.
Great Southern Pink Lakes
Similar to the Golden Outback, you can find a number of salt lakes in WA’s south-west around Cranbrook, Pingrup and Lake Grace.
The Pink Lake of Quairading is worth a look if you’re in the area, the lake is split by a road with one side of the lake being greeny-blue while at random times of the year the other side has pink water!
Rottnest Island Pink Lake
Another lesser-known lake with pink waters is on Rottnest Island. 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.)
Golden Outback Pink Lakes
If you’re heading into Western 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.
Is the Pink Lake dangerous?
The actual algae that makes the lake pink is perfectly safe but drinking the water is definitely not recommended.
Also, don’t drive onto the pink lake, particularly at the northern end where it often dries out. While the lake may look bone dry in those areas, it’s often just a thin crust with thick mud underneath that will bog the biggest 4WDs!
Can You 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, so it’s best to keep clear. If you just have to go swimming in the pink lakes, 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 find a number of bubblegum-hued lakes in Australia with fairy floss water, mainly in South Australia and Victoria. Melbourne even has a seasonal lake whose waters turn pink at certain times of the year, generally in late summer and extending into autumn. You can find it at Westgate Park.
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, if you have the time, 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, that all 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.
How About a Neon Yellow Lake?
Now for something completely different, have you ever seen a bright, neon yellow lake? This nameless salt lake goes by the unofficial name of Statue Lake due the art pieces located in and around it. The lake sits 10km west of Kondinin on the Corrigin-Kondinin Road. For most of the year, it’s varying shades of pastel green, depending on the water levels. But when the first heat of summer arrives it can change into neon yellow lake.
In the next town over, Hyden, you’ll find Magic Lake. This also turns a funky shade of lime-yellow at certain times of the year. It’s also a great spot for watching the sunset or getting astro pics.
If you’re in the area, check out the man-made saltwater pool next to Wave Rock Resort, next to Magic Lake. The 20m wide, circular gypsum pool is said to have health benefits similar to the Dead Sea. It has the same high salinity creating the crazy buoyancy.
Also be sure to visit Wave Rock, which is probably the reason you’re out there, anyway!
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