Pink Lakes, Victoria, Australia

Lake Locations:

Australia - Victoria -

Also known as:  Lake Crosbie,Lake Becking,Lake Hardy, Lake Kenyon or (historic)Linga Lakes, Sailor Lake, Crescent lake, School Lake

Pink Lakes are the focal point of Murray-Sunset National Park, drawing thousands of visitors every year. The lakes do not offer sandy beaches, boating or fishing. What they do offer are spectacular pink hues, best seen at sunrise and sunset. The Pink Lakes are some of Australia’s most photographed natural features.

The four lakes – Lake Crosbie, Lake Becking, Lake Hardy and Lake Kenyon – all lie within walking distance of each other in the far southern portion of the Murray-Sunset National Park. On the shore of Lake Crosbie, the outdoor Salt Museum features huge salt piles and old mining equipment left over from the commercial operations that began in 1916 and lasted until 1979. Salt mining was never very profitable here due to the difficulties of scraping the salt from the shallow lake beds and surrounding salt flats by hand, bagging it and transporting it on camel back to the nearest railway. Large equipment mining was never an option, given the unstable surface of the covering salt crust and wetland areas bordering some of the lakes. In 1979, Victoria took over the area and created Pink Lakes State Park. In 1999, the state park became part of the 1,564,160-acre Murray-Sunset National Park stretching to the north clear to the Murray River.

The Pink Lakes are a popular place for camping and hiking. Two campgrounds are located here, one at Lake Crosbie and another at Lake Becking. Although rest rooms, gas barbecues, fire pits and picnic tables are provided, there is no potable water available, so campers must bring their own supply with them. Summers get very hot, and strenuous hiking is not advised during the hottest months. As the lakes dry up to nearly nothing in late summer, exploring the salt beds of the dry lakes is popular. Three reasonably short hiking paths are provided among the lakes. Kline Nature Walk takes about an hour-and-a-half, strolling along the eastern shore of Lake Crosbie, the western water line of Lake Kenyon, and circling back past the Salt Museum. The Nature Walk around small Lake Hardy also takes about an hour and a half.

Lake Becking Nature Walk is the shortest of the three, circling three-quarters of Lake Becking parallel to an old abandoned tramway and skirting some ruined salt mining structures near the Lake Becking Campground. The western end of the Lake Becking Nature Trail marks the beginning of the much longer three-day Sunset Remote Walking Trail, a hike that takes considerable preparations and plenty of water to be carried along. Those planning this hike should make contact with a park ranger before starting out. Water tanks are located along the longer walking route and maintained by the rangers. All of the walking trails allow hikers the possibility of seeing many of the unique plants and animals living here. Western grey kangaroos, echidna, emu and bearded dragons may be glimpsed along the trails. Winter rains bring forth multiple wildflowers such as azure sun-orchids, spider orchids, poached-egg daisies, desert heath-myrtles, blue-leaved mallee and desert baekia. Over 600 salt-tolerant plants share the varied terrain around the Pink Lakes, while a multitude of rare and exotic birds inhabit the low brush and sand hills.

Much of the national park is included in the Murray-Sunset, Hattah and Annuello Important Bird Area and of great interest to bird watchers. The mallee habitat supports several threatened bird species that depend on the mallee-the low eucalyptus shrubs and trees that dominate the land cover. Some that harbor here include the mallee emu-wren, black-eared miner and the malleefowl. Other birds found near the Pink Lakes include rainbow bee-eaters, pink cockatoos, mallee ringnecks, red-rumped parrots, white-fronted chats and spotted pardalotes. Bird watching tours are often arranged into this bird-rich environment. A number of sand roads are available to 4WD vehicles, but good maps and the advice of the rangers are always a good idea before starting out. The Pink Lakes can be accessed by car along a gravel road from the town of Linga, and Pioneer Drive around the Pink Lakes is passable by car during most seasons. Pioneer Drive is also a popular cycling route. Some roads are only suitable for 4WD and may be impassable during wet weather.

The closest larger town is Ouyen, about 40 miles to the east on the Mallee Highway. A small farming town, Ouyen holds a unique, restored theater in the tropical style with tall, shuttered windows on two sides that can be opened to cool patrons in the heat of summer. The Roxy recently re-opened, run by volunteers as a community project. October brings the Mallee Wildflower Festival to Ouyen, with an Autumn Art Show each April. The City of Mildura is another 65 miles north, and Melbourne is 275 miles southeast of Pink Lakes. Mildura is located on the Murray River and noted for its wineries and citrus groves. Tourists love Mildura for its restaurants and outdoor recreation opportunities afforded by the Murray River. Many visitors choose lodgings in Mildura and rent a car for the visit to Pink Lakes.

As are all known pink lakes, the four lakes in the Pink Lakes group are very salty. The pink hue isn’t the water, as that is usually clear. The red coloring comes from a form of salt-loving algae that grow on the bottom of the lakes. The algae, dunaliella salina, only grow in saline lakes. The shades of pink vary according to recent rainfall and the way the light exposes them. As the water in the lakes is only a few inches deep, the lakes often take on a vivid pink color, startling against the clear blue sky. The four lakes in the group lie among low sand hills without inlets or outlets. Their waters are nearly all captured rainwater, and the salt results from evaporation in the hot, arid summer. By fall, much of the lake surface dries up, to be replenished by winter rains. For nearly 70 years, the lakes were the site of commercial salt extraction. Now they are the perfect site for bird watching, hiking the mallee, and photography. So pack the camera and the hiking boots and head for the airport. The Pink Lakes await.

*Statistics are for Lake Crosbie only, taken as rough estimates from a 1942 government report on the area.

Things to do at Pink Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • National Park
  • Museum

Pink Lakes Photo Gallery

Pink Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Saltwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 280 acres

Shoreline Length: 2 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 118 feet

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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