Australia is not only home to the most amazingly distinctive animals, such as the heaviest moth in the world, but its natural attractions are quite unique as well. The wonders of Australia will leave you amazed, from the Great Barrier Reef through the Dolerite Sea Cliffs of the Tasman Peninsula to the Twelve Apostles, and its pink lakes are no exception!
You would expect that lakes are normally blue or azure and usually that’s exactly the case, but the water of more than 10 lakes in Australia are quite out of the ordinary. Don’t worry though, this type of color change is totally a natural phenomenon and not the result of a toxic spill.
The water of these salty lakes contains both Halobacteria and a type of algae known as Dunaliella salina. They produce a red pigment, called carotenoid, which can also be found in carrots, fruits, and other vegetables. During hot weather, the algae mixes with the salt in the lakes, turning the water pink. Therefore, most pink lakes don’t stay pink all year long and they regularly change colors in accordance with temperature fluctuations.
Weirdly enough, the lake near Esperance, Australia, called “Pink Lake” has lost its pinkness and hasn’t been pink for many long years. Experts believe that a highway and rail line has cut off the natural flow of water into the salt lake system, reducing its salinity, which is why the lake doesn’t change its color to pink anymore. Locals have actually taken the initiative to rename the lake to its original name, to avoid any further misunderstandings.
The most famous of the pink lakes, however, Lake Hillier, maintains its bubblegum pink color all year round. Its water even retains its pinkish hue when put in a bottle.
The lake itself can be found on Middle Island in Western Australia, so approaching it is only possible by air or boat, but visitors are not allowed too close to the lake, which is necessary to protect Lake Hillier’s scenic environment.
In the Mid-West region of Western Australia lies the Hutt Lagoon, which is also notorious for its pink colored waters. Depending on the weather, Hutt Lagoon’s color can vary from lilac to bright pink. Since it’s located in a very dry area, the water is often very shallow or dried out completely and mostly filled with a 20 cm thick layer of salt. It is estimated that the lake fills up only twice every hundred years.
As mentioned before, the Hutt Lagoon might dry out during the summer, but driving and walking over it isn’t a good idea, because it’s very salty and soft, and can be quite slimy.
When conditions are right, pink lakes can appear in unexpected locations. A good example of this is the case of the lake of Melbourne’s Westgate Park.
This salty, man-made lake, hidden in Melbourne’s industrial part, has first turned pink in December 2012, after a massive heatwave gripped Australia’s east coast. The traditionally blue lake has been turning pink between summer and autumn almost every year since.
The lake has become a popular tourist destination, as it resembles Lake Hillier and the Hutt Lagoon. Also, you don’t have to rent a boat or helicopter to approach the magical lake of Westgate Park.
Many people may wonder if it’s possible to swim in these inviting waters. In theory, it is entirely safe to swim in the pink lakes, although they are extremely salty but cause no harm to the human skin. However, it isn’t common for someone to swim in the lakes.
National parks and officials advise against swimming in them and they ask people to leave the pink lakes and their surroundings as undisturbed as possible, in order to protect these extraordinary natural spots for the next generations.