Driving over the Westgate Bridge and looking down you could easily think there had been some sort of toxic spill! But, the bright pink colour in the salt lake you can see is caused by a totally natural phenomenon. This is Westgate Park, the home of Melbourne’s very own pink lake.
What you can find in this post
What makes the Westgate Park lake pink?
This pink lake in Melbourne is really special. There are a few pink lakes around the world but, not many. The salt lake at Westgate Park only turns pink once a year (some years it doesn’t happen at all or only happens for a few short days). It relies on high temperatures and reduced rainfall so summer and into Autumn is really the only time it will appear.
According to Parks Victoria, the pink lake in Melbourne is
“a natural phenomenon in response to very high salt levels, high temperatures, sunlight and lack of rainfall.
The salt lakes turn pink due to the natural interaction of a harmless, single cell alga (Dunaliella salina) and a harmless halbacterium (Halobacteria cutirubrum). Given the right conditions, D. salina growing in the salt crust at the bottom of the lake produces the red pigment – beta carotene – which absorbs and uses the energy of sunlight needed to keep salt out of their cytoplasm.
There is no impact on birdlife on the lake. There is no indication the bacterium is dangerous, but we advise people not to come into contact with the water.
The lakes are expected to return to their normal colour later in autumn when cooler weather and rainfall increases”.
So there you have it, totally natural and totally cool! But, no one can predict exactly when the pink lake will return to normal so I’d get there quick!
When is the best time to visit
Summer and Autumn are the only times the lake will turn pink but there are no guarantees of when this will happen or how long it will stay pink for. The pink lake is no secret anymore that’s for sure! We visited on a Sunday afternoon and the car park was so busy there were about 30 cars parked along the road. It was crazy busy, it felt like half of Melbourne was visiting. For a less busy experience, a weekday is probably much quieter. I think the lake is much brighter when the sun is shining also.
Interesting fun fact for the kids
Here is a fun fact for you (we only asked Google this a couple of weeks ago totally unrelated to the pink lake!). Did you know that when flamingos are born they are grey? Flamingos eat (together with shrimps and other crustaceans) the same algae that are found in the Westgate pink lake and they turn pink over time! Cool hey!
Westgate Park opening hours
Open all hours
How to get to the Westgate Park pink lake
Westgate Park is in Port Melbourne, right beside (and under) the Westgate Bridge. Limited parking is available within the park off Todd Road, or along Lorimer St, Port Melbourne.
It is not particularly easy getting to Melbourne’s pink lake using public transport. You will need to catch bus number 234 or 235 and then a little walk. Your best bet is to use the PTV app to put in your starting point and it will direct you.
Westgate Park is near the freeway and a huge intersection so it’s really busy but there is a great bike path which has connections to many significant trail networks of Melbourne. You are also not far from the Williamstown punt if you felt like riding across that direction.
Other things to do in Westgate Park
Apart from the pink lake, Westgate Park offers a range of attractions and activities including bike and walking tracks, bbq facilities and sculptures scattered throughout the park. The sculptures are made from natural materials and one of Ned and Olive’s favourite things to do is to go on a ‘sculpture hunt’ ha!
Here is a map of Westgate Park to help with your planning.
Happy exploring x
Have you been to visit Melbourne’s pink lake? Or perhaps you have seen another one around the world; as this pink lake in Melbourne isn’t the only one of its kind? Let me know in the comments below if you like.
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