My husband and I were travelling in Western Australia when I caught sight of my first pink lake.
Australia has the most incredible landscape and I love being able to seek out these unique travel experiences. In recent years, I’ve become a bit obsessed with these bubble gum coloured lakes – I’m not sure if it’s the pink hues or the colours against the vivid backdrop of the Australian blue sky (or the bright blue ocean for the coastal lakes), but Mother Nature really has created something stunning with these incredible lakes.
I created this Pink Lake Australia Guide to bring together the famous pink lakes in Australia and share this natural phenomenon so you can add a quick pink lake tourist attraction stop on your next road trip. You might even find there’s a pink Australian lake close enough for a day trip so you can pack up a picnic and go out to take some stunning photos!
Some of these Australian pink lakes have a strong pink colour and others can be much more muted depending on the time of day and time of year you visit and if you visit on a cloudy day. But either way, Australia’s pink lakes are a true natural beauty and well worth exploring.
The scientific explanation for pink lakes in Australia is still being studied – there is so much to learn from these natural attractions.
These salty lakes can be pretty spectacular but be prepared that sometimes in real life the pink water can be more muted than in heavily edited, enhanced Instagram images. It’s best to go in search of natural beauty and if the pink tones are on show for you on the day you’re visiting, enjoy them!
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Pink Lake Australia guide 2022
I’ve broken this list of Australian pink lakes down by state and territory in this Pink Lake Australia guide.
Pink Lakes Western Australia: Check out these pink lakes in WA
There are quite a few of Australia’s pink lakes in WA, and that’s where I first discovered them, so let’s begin there.
Check out these Western Australian pink lakes.
Lake Hillier, Middle Island in the Recherché Archipelago (near the town of Esperance) Western Australia
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Possibly the most famous pink lake in Western Australia, Lake Hillier is a saline lake that sits around 130km from Esperance on Middle Island, the largest island in Western Australia’s Recherche Archipelago.
Salt was mined from pink Hillier lake years ago and you can still see the train tracks today. In addition to the pink lake, you’ll find an abundance of flora and fauna as well as some fascinating historic sights and stories (including stories of Black Jack Anderson, Australia’s resident pirate).
As with so much of WA’s scenery, the vivid colours of this Class A Nature Reserve are amazing – the pink water is fringed with lush paperbark and eucalyptus trees, a strip of bright-white sand and then the turquoise ocean (in my humble opinion, no other state or territory in Australia does colours like WA!) The best way to see Lake Hillier and make the most of the colour contrasts is on a scenic flight so you can capture the incredible phenomenon of pink nature from above. If air travel isn’t your thing (or in your budget) you can also visit by boat too.
The water is of such significance that the eXtreme Microbiome Project undertook studies of the water at pink lake Hillier. Their analysis uncovered that Lake Hillier’s Pink Lake contains hundreds of extremophiles – organisms that thrive in extreme environments – including bacteria, archaea, algae and viruses. Some of these halophiles are colourful microbes like purple sulphur bacteria, the reddy/orange Salinibacter ruber and red-coloured algae called Dunaliella salina. The mix of these microbes, and possibly some others, explains the pink colour of the lake. (If the science behind the pink water at pink Lake Hillier interests you, you can read more about it here.)
Hutt Lagoon Pink Lake, Port Gregory, Western Australia
This was where I got to experience my first sight of a pink lake on our West Australia roadtrip! Hutt Lagoon, one of Australia’s pink salt lakes, can be found on Australia’s Coral Coast, beside the Indian Ocean separated by sand dunes on George Grey Drive. If you’re driving from Perth to Monkey Mia/Shark Bay/Broome it’s a vibrant pink lake worth visiting (it can be found 515km north of Perth so it’s not a quick day trip fro Perth!).
When we visited, the colour of this body of water was a lovely dusky pink (as shown in the photo higher up the post) – the colour of the lake changes with the season and time of day, but it can be a bright pink colour if you time your visit just right.
Hutt Lagoon’s iconic colour comes from the presence of the carotenoid-producing algae, Dunaliella salina (the type of micro algae found in salt lakes). This is a source of colouring agent, beta carotene which is also rich in vitamin A. The lake is home to the world’s largest micro algae production plant.
The best time to visit this pink lake is between 10am – 2pm when the sun is high in the sky, or at sunset, on a clear day. You can stop at one of the lookout points along Port Gregory Road (you can park up and walk to the edge of the lake), or take a scenic flight from nearby Geraldton.
Quairading Pink Lake, near Quairading, Western Australia
If you’re taking an inland road trip from Perth, the Quairading Pink Lake is a natural attraction worth a view. You’ll find it 11km east of the town of Quairading (around two hours from Perth), on the Bruce Rock Road. The bizarre thing is the road slices right through it, dividing the lake in two!
This is one of Australia’s pink lakes where your timing matters as the colours do vary. As the lake is split in two, it also has different tones and colours in each half (sometimes with one section being more pinky in colour and the other blue!) This salt pan lake sees summer evaporation leading to water levels dropping and leaving salt crusts and build-ups, then the water becomes more pink in colour as it returns.
Pink Lake, Esperance, Western Australia (formerly known as Lake Spencer)
Unfortunately, due to more than a century of salt extraction from this high salt content lake, the red pigments in Pink Lake, Esperance, have faded.
There are plans afoot to return the pink colour to this landmark. This would not only be helpful for local tourism, but also to the land’s cultural value as the pink colouring is significant to local Aboriginal people through their Dreamtime stories. The plan is to take salt concentrations from a lake that is abundant to make this one healthier and restore the lake’s pink water.
Lake Warden, Esperance, Western Australia
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All is not lost though, if you’re visiting the town of Esperance seeking out a pink lake, Lake Warden has your back just minutes away. More pinkish in colour than nearby Pink Lake, this wetland system is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the Goldfields-Esperance region. It’s a protected nature reserve with plenty of flora and fauna to enjoy too.
Pink Lake, Rottnest Island, Western Australia
Salt lakes occupy 10% of Rottnest Island, some are permanent and others such as Pink Lake may dry out in summer. It’s still worth exploring the area though as there is an abundance of wildlife and you can learn a lot from the signage as you enjoy taking a stroll along the Lakes Boardwalk.
Find a pink lake in South Australia
South Australia is scattered with milkshake covered bodies of water thanks to salt-loving algae and pink bacteria, halobacteria. Decide which pink salt lake in South Australia to visit below.
Lake Albert, Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia
Lake Albert, Lake Albert, also known by its Ngarrindjeri name, Yarli, is a fresh water pink lake near the mouth of the Murray River. It’s the perfect stopping-off if you’re going on to explore the Coorong National Park on the Fleurieu Peninsula to enjoy some of Australia’s best coastal scenery. It’s an area to enjoy lots of outdoor attractions too.
Lake Eyre, Outback South Australia
Outback Australia’s incredible scenery is already epic but in South Australia you can also see this awesome life force of a lake with its pinky-orange tones. It’s quite a trip to see the salty water hole but if you’re heading on a road trip into the outback, or you’re able to take a scenic flight from Adelaide, it’s worth checking out.
This giant salt pan, Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre can fill with water creating a true oasis in the desert. Don’t expect to see a bright pink lake here as the hues are more muted, but you will see the dazzling white sand beside the red Outback landscape.
Lake Bumbunga, Clare Valley, South Australia
Check out this pink lake: Adelaide residents can do it as a day trip!
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More accessible from Adelaide, Lake Bumunga in Clare Valley is less than a two-hour drive away. Made up of three salt pans which have been harvested for their high salt concentration, this is a pretty pink lake that you can walk out into (don’t forget to pack your reef shoes as it can be sharp!). The colour of the lake can shift from pink to blue to white depending on the high salinity at different times, and the view from above is incredible with the roads cross-crossing across the surface of the lakes.
Be sure to look out for Lochie, the Loch Eel Monster – a sculpture made from fibreglass and paper mache – while you’re in the area. Stop by if you’re looking for a pink lake near Adelaide.
Lake Hart, Woomera, Outback South Australia
If you’re heading on the Explorer’s Way road trip, this is a pink lake to add to your itinerary. With its high salt levels, Lake Hart is a shallow pink lake that attracts tourists for its natural beauty.
You can also catch a glimpse of it if you’re taking the Ghan rail journey between Darwin and Adelaide (but of course then you wouldn’t be able to get out and explore the pink attraction on foot).
It’s a great spot to stop for a picnic or a walk. With its high concentration of salt, you’ll be wowed by the salt crystals glistening in the sun.
Lake MacDonnell, near Penong, Eyre Peninsula, South Australia
One of the best of Australia’s pink lakes, here you get to see the colour contrast with the Green Lake to the other side of the causeway and Blue Lake just over the small bridge. The colour of the lake’s waters are just breathtaking!
The salt-loving algae, Dunaliella salina, and bacteria, halobacteria, secrete carotenoid red pigments turning the water bright pink. Being over 850km from Adelaide, this isn’t a quick and easy pink lake to visit, but it’s worth the effort if you’re on a road trip in the area.
Pink Lakes Victoria
Victoria is another state where you’ll find an abundance of pink lakes.
Westgate Lake, Westgate Park, Port Melbourne, Victoria
Check out the pink lake Melbourne just outside the CBD!
If you’re looking for a pink lake in Melbourne, Australia, amazingly, you can find one just outside the CBD! Filled with bright pink water (depending on the time of your visit), you can be there in just a 20 minute drive
You can see a vivid pink colour when the sun is high between 10am – 2pm (don’t bother on cloudy days), and summertime is the best season for it as it turns back to blue in the cooler months. This vibrant wetland, is an easy to access pink lake.
The Pink Lakes, Dimboola, Victoria
Pink Lake Dimboola, formerly known as Lake Lochiel, is a small circular lake in Victroria and you’ll find it just north of Dimboola. Australian Geographic describes the colour as result of a pigment produced by the Salinibacter ruber bacteria.
Salt has been harvested from this pink late for well over 100 years (with a pause for a few decades in between).
There is a view point with a spectacular view across the lake to enjoy the pink views.
Lake Crosbie, Lake Becking, Lake Kenyon and Lake Hardy, Murray-Sunset National Park’s Pink Lakes, Victoria
The Murray-Sunset National Park is home to a scattering of vibrant pink lakes (Lake Crosbie, Lake Becking, Lake Kenyon and Lake Hardy). Around five hours from Melbourne, the lakes change from candy pink to bright white depending on the time of day and season.
It’s a great point to stop off if you’re on your way to the Little Desert National Park. The Kline Nature Walk takes you on a lovely two-hour hike (or if you fancy something shorter you can take the Lake Becking Nature Walk).
If you want to find the lake pink, they’re best visited during late summer. Be sure to check conditions and roads – some roads become impassable during wet weather, and certain roads are suited only to 4WDs so do some local research before travelling.
Can I swim in pink lakes in Australia?
If you’re wondering: can I swim in pink lakes? the answer is that it’s often not forbidden to go for a swim in a pink lake but many of these lakes aren’t suitable for swimming (some of them are very shallow and can have sharp salt crystals at the bottom of the lake), plus they’re such a unique landmark that they should be protected. Think carefully before deciding to swim in a pink lake and do local research first.
Pink Lake Australia Guide: Which of Australia’s pink lakes will you visit next?
I hope this Pink Lake Australia Guide has been useful to inspire you to get out there and discover these pink lakes that are tucked away in national parks, uninhabited nature reserves and beside our towns and cities.
Which Australian pink lake is on your bucket list?
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