Lake Hillier is one of the nature wonders of Australia. It located on Middle Island, the biggest island in Archipelago of the Recherche, not far from the south coast of Western Australia. The most remarkable fact about this lake is the pink color of its waters which and the reason for this still remains a mystery.
The first data on the pink lake on Middle Island dates from 1802 when the British explorer and hydrographer Matthew Flinders together with Captain John Thistle visited these places on their way to Sydney. Flinders first observed the lake from the highest peak on the island (currently called Flinders Peak) and noted in his books that ‘the water of the lake is so saline that it crystalizes near its shores and there is enough salt to load a ship’. Flinders visited the island one more time in 1803 when his ship moored at Goose Island Bay to load provisions including a few barrels of salt from the nearby pink lake. Flinders named the lake Hillier after one of the crew members who died of dysentery before the expedition left the island.
Lake Hillier is around 600 meters long and 250 meters wide and it’s surrounded by sandy shore and dense eucalyptus and tea tree forest reaching 35 meters height. The forest’s colors resembles colored dust brush. The cause of the peculiar pink color of the lake water is still unknown. A scientific team did a research in 1950 hoping to find a pigment in the rare type of algae Dunaliella salina to explain the pink color, however they couldn’t anything to confirm their hypothesis.
Edward Andrews explored the commercial possibilities of salt production at Lake Hillier and even moved to the island for a while in 1889. A year later though the endeavor proved unsuccessful and they quit. Some years later a small salt processing site was built but it also failed in the attempt of establishing mass production of this otherwise much needed material.
Despite its high salinity Lake Hillier is safe to swim in. Yet, it isn’t recommended in case of emergencies considering the remoteness of this amazing island. Lake Hillier is most beautiful seen from the air – it looks like a magical pink rug in the middle of the green wilderness of Western Australia. The easiest way to reach the lake is by plane from the closest city Esperance (there are six flights daily). Flying over Lake Hillier is an amazing experience.