If you’ve ever seen photos on social media and tourism advertising of incredible looking bubble gum pink coloured lakes, you may think a fair bit of photo manipulation has happened, but it is possible to see these lakes with your own eyes and no filters required, in South Australia.
One that is perhaps the closest to visit is Lake Bumbunga, which you can get to in a little under two hours’ drive from Adelaide. This salt lake is in the town of Lochiel which sits between the Clare Valley and Yorke Peninsula regions. Timing is everything when visiting, because depending on the salinity in the water, it can change from pink to white or blue at different times of the year. It can take a bit of luck to see it at its brightest pink best, depending on the amount of rain there has been, cloud cover and other factors but you may just be lucky.
The lake which stretches for around 10 kilometres in length, is easily visible from the highway which passes by and there are parking spaces off the road to stop and see the other mysterious attraction of the lake. The ‘Loch-eel’, a play on words for the pronunciation of the town and a rival to the Loch Ness Monster can be seen much easier than its Scottish counterpart.
The original Lock eel was a clever construction of car tyres and pipes and has been resident there for more than 30 years, it was always something for kids to look out for anytime you passed this lake. Now, it has now been joined by a larger friend which appeared in March 2021 and one that is even bigger and easier to spot in a different part of the lake. This bigger Loch-Eel has a fibreglass body with a stainless steel skeleton and can be seen from a purpose built viewing platform and walking trail on the edge of the lake.
Another popular and perfectly pink lake is on the far western side of Eyre Peninsula, but being more than 850 kilometres from Adelaide, it takes more dedication to seek out. This is Lake MacDonnell which you can find 15 kilometres south of Penong on the road to Port Sinclair.
Like most of these pink lakes, the colour is caused by a salt loving algae and bacteria which secrete red pigments that turn the water pink. This one in particular is spectacular because the road passes through the centre of the pink salt lake on one side and the blue / green coloured lake on the other side with a long straight dirt road in between. It’s not surprising then that this destination is becoming known as the watermelon road.
If you do make it to Lake MacDonnell you won’t be alone in stopping to admire this incredible natural phenomenon, with everyone trying to get the perfect shot. If possible though, take a drone to truly get the magnificent effect of this iconic road.