Western Australia is blessed to have such an incredible, unique landscape, like white sandy beaches, waterfalls, and red outback deserts. The state is also scattered with our famous, naturally occurring salt lakes, coming in all colours, shapes, and sizes! One of our favourites is Lake Ballard, in the Goldfields region of the Golden Outback.
Are you yet to visit this incredible lake? Here are 4 facts about it to encourage you to put it on your bucket list as soon as possible!
It’s home to the world’s largest outdoor art gallery.
A world-renowned British artist named Antony Gormley created a display of 51 steel statues based on residents from the nearby town of Menzies. Gormley is a UK artist who focuses on using metal alloys to represent his artwork. He accepted the challenge to create something to celebrate the Perth International Arts Festival’s 50th anniversary in 2003. He stated: “I just wanted somewhere with an absolutely flat, more or less 360-degree horizon. [I chose] the west of Lake Ballard, which is an extraordinary lake 70 miles long and 30 miles wide, with this sodium crust that makes everything stand out absolutely clearly. It’s an amazing place. It’s in the middle of what’s called the Yilgarn Craton, which is one of the oldest bits of the surface of the earth. It’s between 2.9 and 3.5 billion years old.”
After months of preparation, Gormley supervised the creation and installation of 51 metal ‘human-like’ statues across the lake, which took influence from the residents of nearby towns. The sculptures travelled 780km from the foundry in Perth to the site on Lake Ballard, and it took a team of 18 volunteers, 4 days to install all 51 sculptures. These statues are scattered across 7 square kilometres of the vast, flat Salt Lake. From a distance, they appear ghostly and almost like a mirage on the horizon, but as you approach, they come to live and stand tall like a human being. Spend the better half of a day exploring these statues, walking from one to the other and soaking in the slightly eerie aura surrounding them! Watch their shadows change as the sun moves in the sky, changing the experience completely. These statues need to be seen to be believed.
The consistency of the lake is always changing.
Depending on the season in which you travel, you will experience a different covering on the salt lake. In the dryer, Summer months, you can expect a dry, cracked salty surface which is easy to explore and walk upon the crust. The blue skies above it makes for an amazing contrast in colour, and this will have you walking around for hours! Winter brings rain, and this again changes the texture of the lake. The rain softens the crust, turning it into a sticky, muddy, consistency, which can make exploring slightly harder, although fun! We do recommend either attempting this barefoot or with boots suitable for this environment! The watery covering shimmers in the sunlight peeking between the clouds, and the pink colouring starts to show through. The in-between seasons of Autumn and Spring are the perfect time to visit, as this is when the weather is perfectly suited for this type of adventure.
It's a great place to camp.
Explore for the day, and if you can, set up camp for the night at Lake Ballard. Night-time at the lake is an extraordinary experience. Watch the statues disappear into the darkness as the sky fills with stars and lights up above you. There is little light pollution out here, making the visibility of the stars easier as you sit back outside your tent and marvel at this incredible starry sight. There are fire pits, camp spots and a toilet here, but you need to bring water and supplies as there are no drinking water facilities here, so do ensure you are packed and prepared. It is important to note that during school holidays and long weekends, camping space is at a premium and it can be difficult to get a spot due to its popularity.
It can be pretty hot and fly-heavy here in Summer, so either plan your trip in the cooler seasons for ideal conditions for exploring and camping.
You can explore by yourself or take a tour.
Lake Ballard is a great place to explore at your own pace, but there are tours you can book if you’d prefer a knowledgeable guide informing you about the lake, the statues, and its history. Goldrush Tours offers a guided day tour where you can explore the lake, the statues, and a few places on the way to and from Menzies. Contact the Kalgoorlie Visitor Centre for further information on tours like this and much more around the Goldfields region.