The watercolors of Lake Hillier are most visible from above, where the pink color strongly contrasts with the greens of the surrounding forests.
Lake Hillier on a map is usually just oval in color with the familiar blue color. However, if you open a satellite map, you will see the lake is pale pink in color.
Origin of Lake Hillier
Off the south coast of Western Australia is a chain of islands called Recherche. Middle is the largest island, the natural uninhabited land is covered with dense forests of eucalyptus.
The islands first appeared on the map thanks to British explorer Matthew Flinders. In January 1802, Captain Flinders landed and climbed to the highest peak of the island, which was later named after him (Flinders Peak).
Exploring the island, Flinders was surprised to find “a small pink lake” in the northeast, he recorded in his travel diary.
The explorer named the lake William Hillier, the name of a crew member who died of dysentery when the ship landed on Middle Island. After inspection, the crew found that the lake’s water had a high salinity equivalent to that of the Dead Sea, and that they were able to harvest salt from the lake’s shores.
Lake Hillier’s pink color is made up of Duinella salina, a species of red algae that thrives in saltwater. The lake water is so dark that if someone draws a cup of water, the water in the cup will still be pink.
Is the lake’s pink water harmful?
The pink of Lake Hillier is most visible from above, where the pink color strongly contrasts with that of the surrounding forests. If traveling on land, tourists often get lost and often complain that pink on the ground does not look as clear as above.
A very frequently asked question from tourists is whether that type of pink algae has any effect on swimming in the lake or not. The representative of Middle Island affirmed that this type of pink algae is completely harmless and thanks to its extremely high salinity, visitors will float on the water.
Lake Hillier is not the only pink lake in the world. Lake Retba on the Senegal coast has similar features. For many years, this place is the end point for the famous Dakar Rally racetrack. This is also a place that provides regular salt for local people. To avoid caustic salt concentrations, these people must apply shea butter to protect them.