The ‘Pink Lake’ in Australia that lost its color

The real pink lake of Australia is the famous Lake Hillier located some six hours away from the town of Esperance. Source: Shutterstock

Tourism leaders in Western Australia are calling for Pink Lake – originally known as Lake Spencer – to be renamed, due to a loss of color.

Every year tourists flood the town of Esperance in Western Australia, in hopes of viewing the Pink Lake, which they expect to be a vivid bubble-gum hue. Unfortunately, visitors are left sorely disappointed as the lake has not been pink in over 10 years.

The town’s tourism board is now petitioning to change the lake’s name, which they believe has been drawing tourists in through false pretenses.

The real pink lake of Australia is the famous Lake Hillier located some six hours away from the town of Esperance.

This bright pink expanse of water has gained worldwide recognition and successfully lured in tourists from all over the globe, after featuring in various travel pages and social media sites.

Unfortunately, tourists are often heading for Esperance’s self-confessed “Pink Lake” only to discover later discover that it is in fact, white.

esperance pink lake

Not quite in the pink: Lake Spencer hasn’t been pink in over 10 years. Source: Australia’s Guide

The ‘Pink Lake’ of Esperance was given its title as it once did sport a pink hue. The color of the lake has faded over the years, however, due to a drop in algae levels.

The striking color relies on the growth of this species of algae, which accumulates the pigment known as beta-carotene – the same pigment that gives carrots and tomatoes their colors.

But because the algae thrives only with super-saline environments, recent construction of highways and railways has prevented natural water from flowing into the salt system. The lack of salt in the environment has resulted in a decline in algae growth, ultimately causing this change or decline in color.

pink lake esperance

Signage at the ‘Pink Lake’ explains how the lake got its color. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Many in the community now want the lake to be known by its original name – Lake Spencer. Esperance’s Tourism board believes this will prevent visitors from confusing the lake with its famous neighbor, Lake Hillier. Tourism Esperance chairman Wayne Halliday spoke to ABC about their plans:

“We are currently seeking to have the Pink Lake, just the lake name, reverted back to its original gazetted name of Lake Spencer.”

“We are continually fielding inquiries and confusion about the location of Pink Lake and Lake Hillier.”

Those on board with the name change are asking for all mentions of the word “pink” to be removed from online sites to stop tourists being fed false information.

At the time of writing, however, the name “Pink Lake” remains on official websites such as Tourism Australia.

Some residents of Esperance are also hopeful that the color will eventually return to the lake. With government approval, an engineering technique that involves restoring and allowing the accumulation of natural salts could be the answer to making the water blush once more.

It seems far likelier, however, that a name change is the quickest solution to this town’s problem.