Lake Hillier, Australia
Episode #5 of the course “Natural Wonders of the World”
On Middle Island in the Recherche Archipelago, Western Australia lies a lake just shy of half a mile long that radiates a striking bubble-gum pink among the surrounding green eucalyptus and paperbark trees. First discovered by Europeans on an expedition in 1802, the lake had not been visited much throughout history and remained largely undisturbed.
It is still difficult to reach Lake Hillier today, and the best and most common way to see it is from the air. Now, some cruises through the Southern Ocean give visitors a glimpse. Tourists can take a helicopter to the island and hike to the overlooking Flinders Peak, which provides the best view of the lake on the island. When visitors and researchers have hiked down to Lake Hillier’s shore, they have been able to put water from the lake in a container and maintain the water’s unique color. The lake’s sandy beaches are also richly littered with salt crystals.
The reason for the salt water lake’s bright coloring is still undetermined. While some researchers think that a microorganism produces some organic byproduct that causes the pink color, others think that it has to do with the salts in the lake reacting with sodium bicarbonate. For a short time, some people attempted to collect and harvest the salts from the lake to use in medicinal or culinary enterprises around the world, but the salts were not highly successful. In 2012, the area became a protected wildlife area.
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