What do you think of when you imagine Western Australia? I must admit that before I moved Down Under I always pictured Uluru, the Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef and Kangaroos when I pictured Australia. The eastern states may get most of the fame but believe me, Western Australia is the real jewel in the crown of this great southern land.
Here is what you should imagine when you think of WA: kilometres of perfectly white, squeaky clean sands like those down around Walpole and Denmark, lush forests that date back to a time when dinosaurs roamed the land, spectacular red sandstone gorges and dramatic coastal cliffs, the footprints of some of the first life to walk on land, and wildflower blooms that are matched nowhere else on earth.
Thats all without mentioning the wildlife – and no, it’s not all out to get you! Snakes aren’t even a big threat. On any given day you can see kangaroos and dolphins, even in the cities. Possums (the cute Australian kind) can be seen scurrying across back yards and the most incredibly colourful birds frequent most back yards. It’s even quite common to spot whales in the right season, or encounter a turtle or stingray while having a dip.
Western Australia really is a natural wonder in so many ways, but one of the things that continues to blow my mind are the colourful lakes – these rainbow bodies of water resemble something out of a fantasy world and can be found around WA, if you know where to look. Here are a few of my favourites…
Hutt Lagoon, Port Gregory
Just half an hour south of Kalbarri or 1 hour and 15 minutes north of Geraldton is a blush pink lake you will have to see to believe. The warm pink hue of Hutt Lagoon in Port Gregory is caused by beta-carotene which is produced by a type of green algae called Dunaliella salina.
If you’re heading south from Perth rather than north, you could also check out the Lake Hillier on Middle Island just offshore Esperance. The aptly named Pink Lake just a short drive outside the Esperance town itself has unfortunately lost it’s pink colour in the last decade.
For a full gallery of pictures from Hutt Lagoon click here.
Stockton Lake, Collie
Just 2 hours south of Perth is the gorgeous little town of Collie and not one but TWO bright sky blue lakes. Stockton Lake is the larger of the two (and personally my favourite 😉 though Black Diamond Lake gets more insta-attention.
These are just two of the many beautiful and refreshing waterways in the Collie River Valley where you can take a swim on a hot day, or why not enjoy some of the incredible hikes in Wellington National Park also.
Wellington Dam, Collie
Also in Collie is the incredible Wellington Dam. The rich orange sediment of the beach gives this place an incredible rusty colour. While the deeper parts of the lake may be a more expected green-blue, the shallows are a colourful and safe shallow playground for younger children (and us older kids too).
Lake Ballard, Menzies
Dry salt lakes count too, right? Well, I think they do and after seeing these martian-like landscapes you’ll have to agree too. There are many, many salt lakes around Western Australia thanks to our arid desert environment. What sets this lake in particular apart is the now world famous art instillation Inside Australia. This collection of 51 statues cast by artist Antony Gormley is spread over 10km making it the largest outdoor gallery on earth!
The lake is ephemeral meaning it only fills periodically. When the water evaporates it leaves behind mineral crystals, mainly salt, that form a white crust over the landscape. You could be forgiven for mistaking this white dusting for a light snow flurry – though that would be pretty rare in Western Australia!
Murchison River, Kalbarri National Park
The emerald green of the Murchison River against the vivid orange of the Tumblagooda Sandstone of the Kalbarri Gorges is striking indeed. Whether viewed from one fo the many viewing platforms or if you take a hike down into the gorges themselves, you are sure to be in awe of the beauty of the scenery.
You may encounter an inquisitive emu to adopt as your hiking buddy as I did, or simply rest on the riverbank to admire the black swans floating by. Just remember, you are admiring some pretty important rock formations in geological terms. In Kalbarri National Park you will find trace fossils, that is fossil foot prints of over 400 million year old creatures called Eurypterids that are thought to be some of the first to ever walk from the oceans on to dry land. You can read about our family fossil hunting trip and more about the significance of these ancient creatures here.
The Thrombolites at Lake Clifton
Ok, I am cheating here slightly as this lake is not famous for its colour rather its strange blobby rock-type things (that’s a scientific term, I promise). These mounds in the shallow water that look like blobs of concrete are not ‘fossilised dinosaur poop’ as one friend confidently remarked one day; rather they are colonies of tiny algae that progressively build these formations over time.
These thrombolites are both remarkably rare and incredibly significant to the evolution of life on earth. You can read the full story of how these little creatures formed a breathable atmosphere and lead to the great ‘rusting of the oceans’ here.
A similar formation known as stromatolites can be seen at Hamelin Pool near Denham ‘just’ 730km north of Perth. Lake Clifton is only 110km south making it an easy day trip.
Exploring the incredible WA
Why not plan a road trip around WA to explore these incredible wonders for yourself. Worried about how your young family are going to cope with the long drive – don’t worry 🙂 I have that covered for you with these 13 Tips To Keep Your Toddler Happy On A Road Trip.
Have I left a colourful waterway off the list? I always love to discover new wonders in our beautiful Western Australia, or even around the world. Drop a comment below and let me know! And while you’re here, why not pin it for later…