Top 8 Fascinating Facts About Lake Hillier

One of the most fascinating lakes in the world can be found on a relatively small island off the coast of Australia.

You really have to see it with your own eyes to believe it, because a pink lake isn’t something you come across every day.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some interesting facts about Lake Hillier, something that can only be described as a marvelous feat of nature!

1. It’s located on an island in Western Australia

The lake is located on the Recherche Archipelago in the Goldfields-Esperance region, which is one of the 9 regions that make up the state of Western Australia. It’s located just off the coast of the mainland, about 9 kilometers (6 miles) from Cape Arid, a National Park in the state.

The island is called Middle Island and it’s the biggest of the archipelago. It covers an area of 1,080 hectares (2,669 acres) and has a length of about 6.5 kilometers (4 miles). The main population of the island consists of the tammar wallaby, a small member of the marsupial family.

The pink island is a remarkable sight on the island, even from a distance!

Middle Island Western Australia
Middle Island / Aussie OC / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

2. Lake Hillier is a relatively small lake

As it’s located on a relatively small island, the lake is pretty small as well. It only has a length of about 600 meters (2,000 feet) and a width of 250 meters (820 feet), which isn’t much larger than a pond.

That being said, it’s one of the most fascinating lakes on the planet because of its pink bubblegum color when looked at from above.

Lake Hillier Aerial View
Lake Hillier Aerial View / Kurioziteti123 / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

3. Only a few sand dunes separate it from the ocean

As you might have noticed, there isn’t much land between the lake and the ocean. Only a few dunes covered in dense woodland consisting of paperbark and eucalyptus trees separate it from the ocean nearby.

This also means that it’s a saline or “salt lake” with extremely high levels of salt content. The salt levels are comparable to those of the Dead Sea on the border of Jordan and Israel, one of the saltiest bodies of water on the planet with salt levels up to 9.6 times higher than in the ocean.

Yes, this pretty much allows you to sit in the water as if you sit in a chair without having to put to stay afloat!

lake hillier goose island
Goose Island / Aussie OC / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

4. The water of the lake is permanently pink

While pink lakes are not that common, it’s not the only pink lake in the world. Better yet, it’s not even the only pink lake in Australia as the country features multiple of these remarkable natural wonders. Some of these include (but are not limited to) Lake Eyre in the Outback of South Australia and Lake Hart in Woomera in South Australia.

Even though the water of the lake appears to be extremely pink, this isn’t as much the case when viewed up close. That being said, one of the most remarkable facts about Lake Hillier is that the water remains pink, even after it’s extracted from the lake.

The reason is most probably because of the presence of red algae called “Dunaliella salina” which turns the salt in the water into a pinkish hue, producing the remarkable color of the lake.

lake hillier closeup
Shore of the lake / Wiki Commons

5. The lake was first discovered by Europeans in 1802

The first European to lay his eyes upon the lake (that we know of from written records) was an English explorer named Matthew Flinders. He visited Middle Island on January 15, 1802, and saw the lake after ascending the highest peak on the island.

This 185-meter (607 feet) high peak is now referred to as “Flinders Peak” and allowed him to view the remarkable pink lake. He wrote about it as follows:

In the north-eastern part was a small lake of a rose color, the water of which was so saturated with salt that sufficient quantities were crystallized near the shores to load a ship.

Matthew Flinders describing the lake.
Matthew Flinders
Matthew Flinders / Wiki Commons

6. It was named after a man who passed away during the 2nd expedition

Matthew Flinders was clearly fascinated by the lake because he visited Middle Island again the following year to extract some salt from it. It was then, on May 20, 1803, that one of his crew members died of dysentery right before they were about to leave again.

That’s when Flinders decided to name the lake after William Hillier, the crew members of the “HMS Investigator.” This was the ship they used to explore the coasts of Australia and the first ship to circumnavigate all of Australia!

HMS INvestigator
The HMS Investigator in 1802 / Wiki Commons

7. The salt-mining business on the island wasn’t a great success

The first time a real effort was done to explore the possibility to extract salt from the lake was in 1889 when a man named Edward Andrews examined whether he could set up a commercial enterprise on the island.

A salt mine was set up subsequently and it was operational in the late 19th century. This didn’t last for more than 6 years, however, mainly because of the high level of toxicity from the salt collected from the lake.

lake hillier and ocean
View of the lake / Aussie OC / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

8. Is it possible to swim in the lake?

Middle Island and therefore Hillier Lake, have been included in the Recherche Archipelago Nature Reserve since 2012. This means it’s now part of a protected area and the island can only be accessed via a licensed tour operator.

That being said, the best way to explore the island and the lake is by air. There are 6 flights a day departing from the Esperance Airport which allows tourists to get a glimpse of this remarkable nature miracle.

There is, however, an option to visit the island directly as well, and the good news is that the red algae that cause the water to turn pink aren’t harmful to people, so it’s actually possible to swim in the lake!

Lake Hillier fun facts
The marvelous lake / Yodaobione / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en