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Where to find picture-perfect pink lakes across Australia

By Maeve Galea

More photogenic than Kate Moss, fairy-floss pink lakes have become a fully-fledged Instagram sensation. In fact, the pink lake hashtag has racked up over 145,000 wanderlust-inducing posts on the platform. While we’re sceptical that some photographers may be turning up the contrast and relying heavily on filters, there is actually a science-backed reason for this natural phenomenon. When left to flourish in high salinity environments, Halobacteria and a type of algae called Dunaliella salina create the postcard-perfect pink hues. Beware though, as the same high salinity that turns these lakes pink is a pretty good reason not to go swimming in them. But there’s still something to be said for taking in these awe-inspiring sights with your own eyes – and luckily Australia boasts some of the best in the world…

Lake Bumbunga, South Australia

Less than two hours from Adelaide, Lake Bumbunga is perhaps one of Australia’s most easily accessible pink lakes. What’s more, only a short drive east and you’ll find yourself in the famed Clare Valley wine region where you can continue the day’s theme with a glass of colour-coordinated rosé. 

Lake MacDonnell, South Australia

Only accessible by a dirt track that runs off the already-remote Nullabor Highway (the 1365-kilometre long road that connects Perth and Adelaide), Lake MacDonnell (aka Watermelon Avenue) has become one of South Australia’s most famous tourist attractions. 

Kati Thanda (aka Lake Eyre), South Australia

Sitting 697 kilometres north of Adelaide is Australia’s largest lake, however it only floods with water every few years, and is usually a dry, salt expanse. When the lake dries up the salinity increases, and the desert oasis often appears to turn the prettiest pink.

Hutt Lagoon, Western Australia

Following the Indian Ocean Drive from Perth, you’ll reach Hutt Lagoon in just under six hours. Sometimes bright bubblegum pink, sometimes lilac, and occasionally even red, the waters of Hutt Lagoon can be an extraordinary vision, especially if you visit at sunset.

Lake Hillier, Western Australia

Lake Hillier can be found on Middle Island in Western Australia’s Recherche Archipelago. The island is about 130 kilometres from Esperance, or an eight-hour drive from Perth, but the surreal sight of the pink lake next to the dark blue waters of the Indian Ocean make it worth the trip.

Lake Tyrrell, Victoria

A four-hour drive from Melbourne and seven kilometres north of the town of Sea Lake is this 120,000-year-old lake. Not only can you enjoy the wonder of its pink hues during the day but at night it is regarded as one of the best places in Australia for star navigation, with the dark and endless skies providing the perfect environment to view the dazzling spectacles of the southern hemisphere’s constellations. 

Murray Sunset National Park, Victoria

Located in the far northwest corner of Victoria, almost halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide, these lakes are a popular attraction due to their ever-changing colouring. Depending what time of day you visit they may appear as deep pink, bright white or anything in between. 

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