Western Australia is home to many beguiling natural attractions, but its extraordinary pink lakes have got to be seen to be believed.
By Kris Madden
Western Australia’s bubblegum pink lakes are a sight to behold. It’s most famous pink lake is Lake Hillier, located offshore on Middle Island, part of the Recherche Archipelago and close to Esperance in the state’s Golden Outback region.
- See spectacular Lake Hillier from the air
- Snorkel or dive the Recherche Archipelago
- Find kangaroos lazing on the beach
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Top things to do around the pink lakes
Lake Hillier, on Middle Island, the largest of the islands that make up the Recherche Archipelago, around 130 kilometres (70 miles) from Esperance. One of the best ways to take in the spectacle is from the air on a scenic flight with Goldfields Air Services.
Hutt Lagoon is another spectacular pink lake located in Port Gregory on Western Australia’s Coral Coast. Hutt Lagoon gets its colour from the presence of carotenoid-producing algae Dunaliella salina, a source of ß-carotene, a food-colouring agent and source of vitamin A. Depending on the time of day, the season and the amount of cloud coverage, the lake changes through the spectrum of red to bubble-gum pink to a lilac purple. The best time of day to visit is mid-morning or sundown. Hutt Lagoon can be easily accessed by road along the George Grey Drive, between Geraldton and Kalbarri. It’s also a spectacular sight as part of a scenic flight; contact Shine Aviation or Kalbarri Scenic Flights to book this unforgettable experience.
Snorkel or dive the Recherche Archipelago
Consisting of more than 100 islands, the Recherche Archipelago offers top class diving and snorkelling. Esperance Diving & Fishing can arrange offshore diving or shore diving from the Esperance jetty.
The Aboriginal name for the Esperance area is Kepa Kurl, the place where the water lies down like a boomerang. There's plenty to see and do around Esperance including horse riding, walking, cycling, fishing, scuba diving, whale-watching (May to October), windsurfing, abseiling, kayaking and 4WD tours. The Esperance Museum is a must-visit with displays about local history, Aboriginal artefacts and pieces of the US Sky Lab, which fell to earth in the Esperance region in 1980. Nip out to the full size Stonehenge replica (entry AUD$25 for a family) and finish with dinner at the excellent Loose Goose restaurant.
Visit nearby national parks
Esperance is also a gateway to Cape Le Grand National Park, Stokes National Park and Cape Arid National Park. Each park has its own unique attributes but all boast beautiful coastal scenery, extraordinary native plants and animals, peaceful bushwalks and well-maintained campgrounds.
Hit the beach
Pack a picnic and follow the Great Ocean Drive Tourist Loop to a string of beautiful white-sand beaches. Swim or snorkel in the calm, clear waters of Blue Haven Beach and Twilight Cove, just a short drive from town. Or hit the surf at West Beach, Fourth Beach or Observatory Beach. Lucky Bay in Cape Le Grand National Park is one of Australia's whitest beaches, where kangaroos sunbathe on the sand.
Immerse yourself in nature
Woody Island is an island in the Recherche Archipelago and there you will find Woody Lake Nature Reserve, an official Ramsar Wetland teeming with precious bird life. Wander along one of the island walks and enjoy close encounters with curious birds and lazy lizards or take the plunge into the clear water of Shearwater Bay and explore marine life via a snorkelling trail. Woody Island Eco Tours will take you there.
Wander among wildflowers
Between June and September, the Esperance wildflower season explodes in a carpet of colour. The larger blooms includes native orchids and banksias. See coastal wildflowers dotting the granite peaks and heathlands of Cape Le Grand National Park or check out an indoor display of more than 400 wildflower species at the Esperance Wildflower Festival in September.
Stay in luxury accommodation
There are plenty of places to stay in Esperance, from serviced apartments to caravan parks by the sea. But for a touch of luxury try Esperance Island View Apartments with its stunning views of the Recherche Archipelago; or Tranquil Retreat which sits on the fringe of Woody Lake Nature Reserve.
How to get there
Visit Esperance to see Lake Hillier. The Recherche Archipelago, where you will find Middle Island (and Lake Hillier) can be visited on a scenic flight. Esperance is approximately 720 kilometres (447 miles) southeast of Perth. It's an eight hour drive or a 1.5 hour flight from Perth. There are also many guided tours available.