Pink Lakes in Australia
Pink Lakes in Australia: A Natural Wonder of the Outback
The pink lakes of Australia are one of the most beautiful natural wonders that you will find in this vast country. Luckily we have many that are dotted all over South Australia, Victoria & Western Australia. As a local from South Australia, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing these pink wonders firsthand, and I can attest to their mesmerising beauty.
The pink lakes of Australia are characterised by their unique pink hue, which is caused by the presence of a type of algae or bacteria that produces carotenoids. While the exact cause of the pink colouration can vary depending on the lake, the result is always a breathtaking sight that draws visitors from all over the world. From the iconic Lake Hillier in Western Australia to the lesser-known gems in South Australia, let’s take a look at some of the most remarkable pink lakes in the country.
Why Are There Pink Lakes in Australia?
Let’s take a look at what causes these magical lakes to appear pink.
Why Do The Pink Lakes Change Colour?
The intensity of the pink hue can vary due to factors like the time of day, the angle of the sun, and the concentration of salt and microorganisms. This is why some lakes appear a light pink, while others exhibit a deeper, almost magenta shade. It’s a delicate balance of environmental conditions that makes each pink lake in Australia a unique and spectacular sight.
Exploring the Famous Pink Lakes in Australia
There are hundreds of pink lakes in Australia. It’s hard to give an exact number because salt lakes are not always pink and some are barely known and marked on maps.
Here are the most famous pink lakes in Australia:
Hutt Lagoon, Western Australia
Located near Port Gregory, Hutt Lagoon spans over 70 square kilometres and presents an ever-changing colour palette ranging from red to pink to lilac. Depending on the time of day and cloud cover, the lake offers different shades, making it a photographer’s paradise.
Location – Hutt Lagoon is a 5.5-hour drive from Perth. The closest town is Gregory which is a small fishing village. Google Maps Location.
Stay Nearby – Geraldton to the South or Kalbarri to the North have plenty of accommodation options.
Top Tip – See the lake in style with a 1-hour buggy tour or take a scenic flight.
3 Day Pink Lake and Margaret River Tour
This 3-day Kalbarri / Pink Lake and Margaret River tour showcases Western Australia’s most iconic attractions. You will get to see The Pinnacles, Pink Lake, Nature’s Window, Skywalk, Natural Bridge, Busselton Jetty to experience the world second longest wooden Jetty on foot or by train, enjoy the beautiful coastal views and tranquil forest in Margaret River Region.
Lake Hillier, Western Australia
Nestled on Middle Island in Western Australia, Lake Hillier is a sight to behold with its vivid bubble-gum pink hue. This isolated lake, surrounded by lush eucalyptus forests and a rim of white sand, is best viewed from above. The contrast between the pink waters and the deep blue of the Southern Ocean is truly mesmerizing.
Location – Lake Hillier is located on a small island off the coast of WA near Cape Arid. The closest large town is Esperance. Google Maps Location.
Stay Nearby – The closest town with accommodation options is Esperance.
Top Tip – Combine your scenic flight with a 4×4 tour for the ultimate way to see the unique landscapes of Lake Hillier and the Cape Le Grand National Park.
Lake MacDonnell, South Australia
Lake MacDonnell is an ICONIC South Australian pink lake. The extraordinary pink hue transforms the Eyre Peninsula’s landscape into a vibrant canvas. This lake, previously a hub for salt mining, now captivates visitors with its surreal beauty. One of its most remarkable features is the adjacent green-blue lake, creating a striking natural contrast that’s a feast for the eyes. Located on the Eyre Peninsula, it’s one of the most picturesque and Instagrammable pink lakes in Australia.
Read our travel guide for all you need to know about visiting Lake MacDonnell.
Location – Lake MacDonnell is found on the western side of the Eyre Peninsula around 9 hours drive from Adelaide. Google Maps Location.
Stay Nearby – Ceduna offers a range of accommodation options, blending comfort with the natural charm of the region.
Top Tip – Check out the sand dunes: The nearby landscape is adorned with vast sand dunes that stretch back from Long Beach. The Penong Windmill Museum is worth a look too!
Lake Bumbunga, South Australia
Read our travel guide for all you need to know about visiting Lake Bumbunga.
Lake Bumbunga is my favourite pink lake! The lake changes colour from bright pink to white so you are sure to get a different experience if you visit more than once like I have. The road that extends out into the lake can’t be driven on but it makes a beautiful feature for drone photography.
Lochie the Loch Eel monster is a fun addition and an exciting point of interest for kids and adults alike. When the water levels are low you can walk right out to the monster.
Location – This is one of the closest pink lakes to a major city. Lake Bumbunga is a 2-hour drive from Adelaide and is on the way to the Yorke Peninsula & Eyre Peninsula. Google Maps Location.
Stay Nearby – The Pink Lake Tiny House is the ultimate pink lake experience. The Clare Valley is dotted with delightful accommodations, offering a mix of rustic charm and modern comforts or stay in Adelaide. Top Tip – There are two main lookout points – one near the Loch Eel monster and one further north, a few minutes drive out of town. Check out both!
Wadjemup/Rottnest Island, Western Australia
Wadjemup/Rottnest Island is famous for quokkas but did you know it also has 12 salt lakes? These salt lakes change colour from blue to pink to white so if you are lucky you may see their glorious pink hues. The best way to see Rottnest is by bike and you will pass by various lakes while travelling around the island.
Location – There are multiple salt lakes on Wadjemup/Rottnest Island Google Maps Location.
Stay Nearby – You can visit as a day trip from Perth or Fremantle or stay a few nights on the idyllic Wadjemup/Rottnest island.
Top Tip – You can catch the ferry to Wadjemup/Rottnest Island from Fremantle or Perth.
Pink Lake Dimboola, Victoria
Read our travel guide for all you need to know about visiting the Dimboola pink lake.
The Dimboola pink lake is one of a handful of lakes you can find in Victoria. This is the most accessible pink lake from Melbourne, reachable by car in under 4 hours. The lake is just off the Western Highway and there is a basic picnic area.
From the parking area, it’s just a quick, less than a minute walk downhill to get to the lake’s edge. Enjoy a leisurely walk around the lake’s perimeter, taking in the unique flora that flourishes in this salty environment.
Remember, there aren’t any refreshment facilities at the Loch Iel Rest Stop. So, if you’re planning a picnic, it’s a good idea to grab some snacks from the IGA in either Dimboola or Horsham before heading out.
Location – Nestled just 9km from Dimboola, 45km from Horsham, and a scenic 354km drive from Melbourne. Google Maps Location.
Stay Nearby – There are places to stay in Dimboola and Horsesham. Read our guide for more accommodation information.
Top Tip – For drone pilots the vibrant yellow of the canola fields in bloom contrasts amazingly with the pink lake. The canola flowers from August into early September
Lake Eyre, South Australia
Australia’s largest salt lake, Lake Eyre (also known as Kati Thanda) is a unique natural wonder in South Australia. This vast expanse, 770 km from Adelaide, spans 144 km in length and 77 km in width. The lake’s dramatic transformations are a sight to behold, switching from a dry salt crust landscape to a vibrant aquatic habitat attracting thousands of waterbirds when flooded. Lake Eyre’s low water levels showcase glittering crystalized surfaces, while floods bring about a spectacular pink hue due to specific algae.
The lake’s remote location offers an immersive experience of isolation, complemented by picturesque red sand dunes and mesas. Accessible by scenic flights or adventurous drives along the Oodnadatta Track, Lake Eyre’s ever-changing landscape presents a captivating scene for camping, photography, and birdwatching.
The Yorke Peninsula Salt Lake Trail
The Yorke Peninsula Salt Lake Trail offers a unique opportunity to witness South Australia’s lesser-known pink salt lakes. These lakes, scattered across the peninsula, reveal a spectrum of pink shades, a result of natural salt concentrations interacting with unique algae. Each lake along the trail presents a different aspect of this natural phenomenon, with varying sizes and intensities of colour.
As you journey through the trail, you’ll get up close with these remarkable salt lakes, ideal for capturing stunning photographs or simply enjoying the striking natural colours.
Bird Lake Port Augusta
Bird Lake in Port Augusta, a natural haven once suffering from environmental challenges, is transforming into a picturesque spot. After the closure of the nearby Alinta Energy power plant in 2016, the lake, which had been filled with water from the plant, dried up, revealing odorous bacteria. A substantial rehabilitation effort involving the spreading of 21,000 tonnes of soil and planting native vegetation around the lake’s perimeter was undertaken to address this issue and beautify the area.
The industrial nature of the area is a different experience from most other pink lakes in Australia but on a good day the lake is a super vibrant pink so it’s definitely worth stopping by on your way to the Eyre Peninsula.
Kangaroo Island Salt Lagoon
When I visited Kangaroo Island, I stumbled across this beautiful pink lake, a hidden gem with scarcely any information available online, but it is undoubtedly worth exploring. This secluded lake is tucked away on the island, offering a serene and almost untouched natural environment. During my visit, the lake displayed a pale pink hue, a characteristic feature of many Australian pink lakes that varies with the seasons and environmental conditions.
Its relative obscurity adds to its charm, providing a sense of discovery and exclusivity. The Kangaroo Island Salt Lagoon is a testament to the diverse and surprising natural wonders that South Australia has to offer, especially to those willing to venture off the beaten path.
Outback South Australia Pink Lakes
Lake Hart: This salt lake, approximately 220 km north of Port Augusta, is known for its striking salt flats. Occasionally filled with water, Lake Hart offers visitors a surreal landscape and free camping spots for a unique outback experience.
Google Maps Location
Lake Torrens: Close to Lake Hart, Lake Torrens is a vast salt lake notable for its shimmering salt pan. It transforms into a stunning water body after rainfall, providing a habitat for various bird species and adding to the outback’s stark beauty.
Google Maps Location
Lake Gairdner: Another nearby salt lake, Lake Gairdner is famed for its dazzling white salt pan, set against the red outback terrain. It’s a popular spot for land speed racing and offers a serene, picturesque environment for visitors.
Google Maps Location
Pink Lake Near Meningie – South Australia
Just an hour and a half from Adelaide you will find another glorious pink lake. Near Meningie in the Coorong region on the Princes Highway. This lake does dry out over the summer and turn white so the pink factor varies with the season and weather.
Close to Meningie and the Pink Lake are the Coorong and the Murray River Mouth, providing additional scenic spots to enjoy. The region is known for its diverse birdlife, with over 240 species observed, some migrating from as far as Siberia, China, and Japan.
Lake Amadeus – Northern Territory:
Lake Amadeus, in Australia’s Northern Territory, is a captivating sight. Not just a typical lake, it’s the largest salt lake in the Northern Territory, sprawling over 180 kilometers in length and 10 kilometers wide. Known for its strikingly white, dry salt crust, the lake lies about 50 kilometers north of Uluru.
Historically, Lake Amadeus is on Aboriginal land, covered by the Katiti and Petermann Aboriginal Land Trusts. European explorer Ernest Giles, who first encountered it in 1872, was thwarted by the lake’s challenging terrain, unable to cross it to reach Uluru. Despite its seemingly inhospitable nature, the lake is a habitat for threatened species like the Emu and Malleefowl. Scenic flights over the lake can be taken from Uluru.
Lake Warden – Esperance
Nestled near Esperance in Western Australia, Lake Warden is a hidden gem within a biodiverse ecosystem. This salt lake, part of the extensive Lake Warden System Nature Reserve, captivates visitors with its tranquil beauty and diverse flora, including saltwater paperbark trees and vibrant banksia. While the lake is renowned for its birdlife, it’s also a peaceful retreat for nature lovers. The Kepwari Wetland Walk Trail around Lake Warden offers an educational and scenic experience, winding through unique wetland environments.
Quairading Pink Lake
Quairading Pink Lake, is located just 11 km east of Quairading on Bruce Rock Road but this unique lake isn’t always pink. Its transformation into a pink hue is a rare and unpredictable event, typically occurring when the lake dries out. During these times, the evaporation process leaves behind salt deposits, which, under the right conditions, lend the lake its distinctive pink colour.
Nevertheless, the journey to this lake is an experience in itself. The road that cuts directly through the lake is a sight to behold, offering a unique perspective that’s quite rare. Whether the lake is pink or not, the drive through this natural landscape is intriguing.
Lake Ballard, an ephemeral salt lake located 51 km from Menzies in Western Australia, is a remarkable destination that marries natural beauty with artistic innovation. This site is home to the world’s largest outdoor art gallery, featuring 51 striking steel sculptures by Antony Gormley, scattered across its vast, flat salt bed. As you walk among these ghostly figures, the lake’s surface itself transforms with the seasons, from a dry, cracked crust in summer to a softer, muddy texture in winter. This unique combination of art and nature creates a surreal, almost otherworldly experience, especially during sunrise or sunset when the play of light and shadows brings a dramatic flair to the landscape.
Regional Western Australia Pink Lakes
Photo Credit: Tourism Western Australia
Carrarang Salt Lakes
Photo Credit: Tourism Western Australia
Pithara Salt Lakes
Photo Credit: Tourism Western Australia
Lake Gregory near Halls Creek
Photo Credit: Tourism Western Australia
Westgate Lake Melbourne: NO LONGER PINK
Westgate Lake in Melbourne, once known for its striking pink hue, has returned to its natural colouration and is no longer pink. Located near the bustling Westgate Bridge, this lake attracted visitors with its unique pink colour, a natural phenomenon due to specific algae and salt concentrations. However, changes in environmental conditions have led to the lake reverting to its usual colour.
Pink Lakes, Murray-Sunset National Park
In the heart of the Murray-Sunset National Park, these salt-crusted lakes display varying shades of pink throughout the year. They’re part of an ancient system of dried salt lakes and provide a stunning, almost otherworldly landscape.
Victoria’s largest salt lake, is known for its stunning reflections and pink hues.
Visiting Pink Lakes: Tips and Recommendations
Best time to visit
Australia’s pink lakes offer a breathtaking natural spectacle, their colours fluctuating due to various factors such as weather, season, and water temperature. Generally, these lakes can display shades ranging from deep reds and purples to softer pinks and sometimes white. This colour change is attributed to the algae’s adaptive response to different environmental conditions, altering its growth rate.
The appearance of pink lakes varies throughout the year. They might lose their vibrant hue during dry spells, resembling regular lakes, or even turn white. However, the iconic pink colour is usually most prominent after rainfall, as fresh nutrients introduced into the lakes stimulate algae growth.
Pink Lake Photography Tips
FAQs About Pink Lakes in Australia
Can you visit the pink lake in Australia?
Yes, many of Australia’s pink lakes are accessible to visitors. However, it’s crucial to check if there are any specific access restrictions or conservation measures in place for the particular lake you plan to visit.
Why is the Pink Lake pink?
The pink hue in these lakes is due to the presence of certain algae or bacteria that produce carotenoids, natural pigments found in plants and microorganisms. These pigments react to sunlight and varying salinity levels, causing the distinctive pink colour.
How many pink lakes are there?
Australia is home to hundreds of salt lakes that can turn pink. The exact number can vary as some lakes may temporarily lose their pink colour due to environmental changes.
Are pink lakes safe to swim in?
Swimming safety in pink lakes depends on the specific lake. Some pink lakes have high salt content or may be located in protected areas where swimming is not allowed. Generally the salt lakes are very shallow, salty and not suitable for swimming but advise will vary depending on local rules.
Does anything live in the Pink Lake?
Yes, pink lakes often host unique ecosystems. Despite the high salinity and pH levels, certain microorganisms, algae, and even some small shrimp species thrive in these conditions.
What is the best time of year to visit pink lakes?
The vibrancy of the pink colour in these lakes can be season-dependent. Typically, the most vivid hues are observed after periods of rainfall, usually in the cooler months, as fresh nutrients encourage algae growth. However, this can vary between lakes.
Which is the most famous pink lake?
The most famous pink lake in Australia is Lake Hillier. Located on Middle Island in the Recherche Archipelago of Western Australia, Lake Hillier is renowned for its striking bright pink colour. This distinctive hue, visible even from above, has made it a popular subject for photographers and tourists alike. The lake’s vivid pink colour remains a constant throughout the year, which is somewhat unique among pink lakes, as many others change colour based on seasonality or environmental factors. The contrast of Lake Hillier’s pink against the dark blue of the neighbouring ocean and the lush greenery of the island adds to its allure, making it a must-see destination for those interested in Australia’s natural wonders.
Conclusion: The Unforgettable Experience of Australia’s Pink Lakes
Australia’s pink lakes offer an enchanting and unforgettable experience for nature enthusiasts and travellers alike. These natural wonders, with their vibrant hues ranging from soft pinks to deep reds, are not only a visual delight but also a testament to the unique ecological phenomena of our planet. Each lake, with its own distinctive characteristics, tells a story of biology, geology, and environmental adaptability.
Visiting these lakes provides an opportunity to witness firsthand the delicate balance of nature and the extraordinary ways in which organisms adapt to their surroundings. Beyond their beauty, these lakes also prompt a deeper appreciation for the diverse and often surprising natural landscapes Australia has to offer.
Whether it’s the world-renowned Lake Hillier with its year-round pink vibrancy or the lesser-known but equally fascinating counterparts, a journey to these pink lakes is sure to leave lasting memories and a renewed sense of wonder at the natural world.