Why are Australia’s pink lakes pink?
What gives these rose-coloured lakes their pink hue? It depends on a variety of factors. Most pink lakes within Australia are pink thanks to a type of algae (Dunaliella salina) and bacteria (Salinibacter ruber) species that prefer to live in salty environments. The algae secrete red, orange, and yellow pigments called carotenoids. These bacteria and algae combined with high salt content in the water create a colour that ranges from pastel pink to deep magenta.
The lake’s colour can also change throughout the year, with certain months typically producing a more vibrant pink. To see the pink lakes at their best, visit on a cloudless day when the sun is high in the sky—typically from 10am to 2pm. However, if you venture to the pink lake in the early morning, sunset, or on a day with overcast skies, you might discover that the pink looks nearly white or lavender in different conditions.
A tip? Check hashtags on Instagram to find up-to-date images of the lakes in their current form. Usually, the hashtag of the lake’s name will pull up recent shots.
Pink lakes in Western Australia
Lake Hillier, The most famous pink lake in Australia is ironically the most challenging to access. On Middle Island, a small island in the Recherche Archipelago off Western Australia’s coastline, travellers can venture on a scenic flight to see the island’s fairy floss lake. The nearest town to Middle Island is Esperance, where the two-hour scenic flights depart. It is not possible to land on Middle Island and visit Lake Hillier in person.
Near Esperance, you can venture to Lake Spencer, a lake often marked as ‘Pink Lake’ on maps. However, since the composition of Australia’s pink lakes are always changing, Lake Spencer is more white, lilac, or grey rather than bright pink.
Along Western Australia’s Coral Coast in Port Gregory, travellers can park alongside the salty shoreline of Hutt Lagoon. The 14km lake that looks like a strawberry milkshake is just a 30-minute drive from Kalbarri. Scenic flights that offer top-down shots take off from Geraldton and Kalbarri. Pack some snacks and your bathers to enjoy a picnic at Hutt Lagoon followed by a dip in the ocean, just a few steps away.
While Rottnest Island is famous for its cheeky marsupials, the friendly-faced quokkas, you might be surprised to know that the island hosts its own pink lakes as well—that can all be visited on a bicycle excursion. Note that the pink lake on Rottnest Island is not always pink and does not always have water.
Pink lakes in South Australia
Lake MacDonnell, on the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia is one of the most intriguing destinations in Australia with bright pink lake and a teal neighboring lake separated by a thin stretch of road, nicknamed ‘Watermelon Avenue.’ Because this region is arid, you’ll want to visit when there’s plenty of water in the lakebed.
Lake Bumbunga, two hours by car from Adelaide, is a whimsical lake that seems to have a mind of its own, changing in colour every few months depending on its composition. Here, you’ll find pastel pink waters lap against a rust-coloured ledge.
Another pink lake in South Australia, Lake Hart, has an air of romance about it with its cute name and rose-tinted waters. Intrepid travellers can embark on a train journey aboard the Indian Pacific trainline that connects Perth to Australia’s east coast.
Pink lakes in Victoria
Wander around the wonderful trails of Murray-Sunset National Park to discover four different pink lakes within its borders; Lake Crosbie, Lake Hardy, Lake Becking, and Lake Kenyon. This spacious national park has a variety of bushwalking trails and places to post up for a bit of birdwatching.