The Pink Lakes
is a 50,700 hectare State Park located 70kms west of Ouyen, along the Mallee Highway , which was incorporated into the Murray-Sunset National Park in 1991. An all-weather
gravel road gives access to the main camping areas, however, access further north is pretty much - 4WD only. Aptly named ‘Pink Lakes
’ gets its colour from the red pigment beta carotene (found in carrots), secreted by the algae Dunaliella salina. This pink view can be emphasised by viewing through polarised sunglasses. Unfortunately, the lake is not always seen as pink due to the changing concentrations of algae in the water. During the wet season, highly saline ground water seeps down from the surrounding region into these lakes. This water evaporates during summer and leaves behind the shimmering salt beds. There are a number of viewable historic sites around the Pink Lakes
region relating to the production of salt from the early 1900’s.
This trek runs through mallee region and is the home of the small and shy Mallee Emu-wren. The prickly clumps of triodia grass, native pine and mallee heathland protected here, provides a vital habitat for this threatened species. There are many ways to enjoy the park, like taking walks such as the Kline Nature Walk (2 hours), Lake Becking (45 mins) and Lake Hardy Walk (1 hour). Obviously these walks should be undertaken by capably fit individuals during the cooler months - not summer. If you are into photography, then you may be presented with intense and vibrant colours of the lakes especially during overcast days. Abundant birdlife and the Spring wildflowers
offer more exciting opportunities. There are some nice campgrounds at Lake Crosbie, Mount Crozier (4WD) and Mopoke Hut (4WD too). There are also picnic tables available at Lake Crosbie and Lake Becking.
How to Use this Trek Note
Click the "Map" tab below to see the route we've provided. Icons on the map are the POIs you'll need for navigation purposes. Be sure to check the list of Nearby Places
on each POI page.
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The ‘Pink’ colour of the lakes is caused by a red pigment secreted by an alga called Dunaliella salina, which appears in the lakes after winter rains. The colours, ranging from a deep pink to a pure glistening white, are best seen during Spring - early or late in the day, during bright
moon-lit nights or when it is cloudy. In fact, during most times of the year, the Pink Lakes
are a pretty amazing sight.
It’s hard to imagine plants can happily grow in such a salty environment, but there are around 600 known species of plants native to the park. The vegetation in the Pink Lakes
region consists of highly specialised salt-tolerant plant communities, Mallee woodland further up the slope, and pine-buloke woodland on the more fertile areas. During Spring, you may encounter wildflowers
such as Spider orchids, Azure Sun-orchides, Desert Baekia and the Poached-egg Daisy.
Fauna that frequently habitat this area, include: Emus and Western Grey
Kangaroos, Echidnas, and Bearded Dragons. Pink Lakes
are abundant with birdlife such as Mallee Ringnecks, Red-rumped Parrots, Pink Cockatoos, Spotted Pardalotes, White-fronted Chats and the small, shy and threatened Mallee Emu
Edward White, a surveyor had reported the salt lakes in the Pink Lakes
region in 1851. Around this time, only large scale pastoral runs would exist as the hot arid conditions made permanent settlement too difficult. By 1916, commercial salt mining brought families to the shores of the lakes, where a small settlement including a school was established. The work was hot and gruelling on both men and machines, and camels were often the most reliable means to transport the salt.
Salt was commercially harvested between 1916 right up until 1975. In 1979, the area was declared a State Park. In 1991, the Pink Lakes
State Park was incorporated into Murray-Sunset National Park - Victoria
’s second largest national park - being 633,000 hectares. Although salt harvesting has now ceased, there are still salt stock piles and a display on the edge of Lake Crosbie.