Heading on a road trip up north soon? Just a short drive from Kalbarri is a Pink Lake that really does appear pink when the conditions are right. Read more.
When there are public holiday long weekends in Western Australia, many of us here love to go on quick road trips. Our state boasts so many national parks that we are truly spoiled for choice, and in addition, here in Perth – a 3+ hour drive is really nothing to us at all. After all, Western Australia is the biggest state in Australia, so we’re used to driving here, and driving alot! So for the Queens Birthday long weekend that just passed, I went on a short road trip up north to Coalseam Conservation Park and Kalbarri!
Pretty Pink Lakes in Western Australia
Did you know that there are a few pink lakes in Western Australia? Such as the pink lake near Esperance? Well I so happened to accidentally stumble upon another one while travelling up north on a recent road trip from Port Gregory to Kalbarri.
Yes, a bubbling, foaming, salt-rich pink lake, and not that far from Perth. My photos below don’t lie – it really was pink!
About Port Gregory & It’s Pretty Pink Lake
Port Gregory lies near the mouth of the Hutt River on Western Australia’s Coral Coast. This picturesque fishing village is encircled by 5km of exposed coral reef. Originally developed to serve the Geraldine Leadmine and house its convicts, the town is now a holiday hotspot for fishing, windsurfing, diving while offering a range of accommodation options.
But one main attraction that gets people looking twice is Port Gregory’s Pink Lake which is called Hutt Lagoon, and it suffers from a serious case of extreme pink eye. Like may pink lakes in WA, the pink hue is created by bacterial (Dunaliella salina), which becomes trapped in the salt granules.
To get more specific with you, Hutt Lagoon’s pink hue is created by presence of carotenoid-producing algae Dunaliella salina, a source of ß-carotene, a food-colouring agent and source of vitamin A. It has the biggest micro-algae production plant in the world and the pink is used as colouring in food and makeups.
The lagoon is about 70 square kilometres with most of it lying a few metres below sea level. It is separated from the Indian Ocean by a beach barrier ridge and barrier dune system. Similar to Lake MacLeod, 40 kilometres to the north of Carnarvon, the Hutt Lagoon is fed by marine waters through springs.
It’s also a spectacular sight as part of a scenic flight; contact Geraldton Air Charter or Shine Aviation to book an unforgettable experience going above the lake. However, the next serious best thing is getting there by car – and it’s super easy and not that hard at all to find it! Read more below on my experience.
MY EXPERIENCE – Finding the Pink Lake
We caught this surreal beauty by accident on our way north from Northampton to Kalbarri, after taking the Port Gregory turn off. Considering it’s a very large lake that stretches 5km along the roadside, it was hard not to miss it’s blinding pinkness out the corner of our peripheral vision.
You likely will find it a bit difficult to get close to, as many have done, because there aren’t any signs or clear entry ways. I’ll explain why on this later.
Fortunately I have eyes like a hawk and spotted a small off-beaten dirt track, allowing just enough time for a safe pullover up just ahead of it and U-Turn to go back. Be careful on this road, with cars doing speeds of 110kph, you must be alert!
There is a large private enterprise next to the lake there that does chemical processing or is harvesting something there (maybe salt?), so I assume they own at least part of that area of the lake. This is probably why there isn’t tourist information or public signs – because really, for health and safety reasons, they don’t want to draw in large crowds and be held responsible or be sued if someone falls in and become mutated like Arnold Schwarzenegger did on Mars in his film Total Recall.
Which is why I stress to you guys – respect the land, property, and if you don’t see signs, assume you’re not really supposed to be there and leave everything untouched! I repeat, just because the lake looks like a strawberry milkshake, does not mean you go swimming and drinking in it!!!
We found a small little road close by the factory which led to a nice quiet little spot and there the lake looked ravishingly pink and gave us some great photo opportunities. I didn’t touch anything, but I still smothered Detol Hand Santiser on my hands afterwards because of you know, my overactive imagination has seen too many horror movies about mutated toxic-waste creatures.
The Best Time to Visit
Depending on the time of day, the season (time of year) and the amount of cloud cover, the lake changes colour, through the spectrum of red to bubble-gum pink to a lilac purple. The best time of day to visit the lake would be mid-morning or sundown. Also, best to remember that the lake is a brighter pink in spring and summer because of less water and the sun shining down onto the surface, allowing the pink natural phenomenon to shine bright like a diamond!
It’s definitely worth checking out if you are based in Kalbarri, or passing through the area, because it is quite unique. Remember, it’s accessible from only few various points around the lake. Eager photographers may need patience – if there is cloud cover the water, then colour is much less impressive. Patience pays off when the sun emerges however, as the lake will go through various shades of lavender to salmon pink.
When we arrived, it was super Pink!
This lake is fascinating to see, and was a great, vivid shade of pink in the mid-morning when we got there because it was a clear, sunny Spring day.
Do not try to walk in the water as not only is the mud is very soft and sticks like glue, it’s also full of bad bacteria – and you don’t want to end up in hospital or a morph into a mutant-looking creature.
If you got kids, they will be blown away seeing a pink lake! And don’t forget your camera – a truly pink coloured large lake in the middle of nowhere would make for some awesome photos.
Check out more of our photos from our time at Pink Lake below
How to Travel to Pink Lake from Perth
While initially it may seem hard to find (if you don’t do your research first), the pink lake is actually not that far out from Kalbarri if you go the right way.
We took the Port Gregory scenic route from Northampton to Kalbarri when we stumbled upon this phenomenon . It’s located just outside Port Gregory, some 60km from Kalbarri. When you pass Port Gregory’s historical prison on your right, you will reach a junction to Kalbarri.
If you’re looking for public toilets nearby, there are toilets in Port Gregory near the jetty. If you drive up Port Gregory Road for a bit till you see the ‘Welcome to Port Gregory sign’ (which sits on a small hill) that’s where you can also take a pic, use closeby public facilities and move on.
Hutt Lagoon can also be easily accessed by road along the George Grey Drive, between Geraldton and Kalbarri.
It’s one of those attractions that doesn’t take a long time to see. The lake is so big and is just next to the main road, but like I’ve mentioned prior in the post, finding an entry way to the Pink Lake is more difficult when travelling on a 110kph road.
My Last Thoughts on it
What I would love to see here is a high vantage point constructed (maybe a bridge?) with tourist information on the lake and the chemistry behind how it gets to be pink. I understand the health and safety concern, but the reality is people will always visit because its unusually striking and a great photography location, so it would be nice to have a higher area for observing the colour, educating adults and kids, while also keeping people and pets away from the waters edge.
Anywho, we thoroughly enjoyed this spontaneous stop off! The weather certainly was kind to us that day!
Port Gregory accommodation
For further information about Port Gregory accommodation, tours and the local attractions of Western Australia’s Coral Coast, visit the Northampton Visitor Centre website or call +61 8 9934 1488.
Have you been to this Pink Lake in Kalbarri, or any other Pink Lakes in Western Australia? Would love to hear your stories and experiences! Comment below 🙂