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.
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.
Lake Hillier, on Middle Island, the largest of the islands that make up the Recherche Archipelago, around 130 kilometres (70 miles) from Esperance. It's a surreal sight; the bright pink lake neighbours the dark blue ocean, with a strip of lush green forest acting as a barrier. Although you can see the lake by boat, 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. 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. The turquoise waters offer shipwrecks, caves, boulders and swim-throughs to explore. Esperance Diving & Fishing can arrange offshore diving or shore diving from the Esperance jetty. Woody Island Eco Tours will take you to Shearwater Bay in the Woody Island Nature Reserve to seek out stunning marine life. If you'd rather stay above water, wander around Woody Island on foot, enjoying the abundance of bird life.
The Aboriginal name for the Esperance area is Kepa Kurl, which means '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 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. One highlight for visitors is Lucky Bay in Cape Le Grand National Park, a 45-minute drive from Esperance. Not only does this destionation boast beautiful white sand and clear water, but resident kangaroos are also drawn to hang out on the sand.
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 is one of Australia's whitest beaches; you just might find kangaroos sunbathe on the sand.
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 follow the Esperance Wildflower Trail through some of the state's most beautiful countryside scenery.
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 Island Nature Reserve.