Hutt Lagoon

Yallabatharra, Western Australia | C.1839

Photo Credit: Scott Slawinski

No matter the season or time of day, Hutt Lagoon is a surprising sight. Appearing bright pink, lilac purple or even deep red, this unique, 70 sq km salt lake is a wonder of nature.

Located just north of the mouth of the Hutt River in western Australia, the lagoon is a stone’s throw from the Indian Ocean. Because of this and the lagoon’s position below sea level, seawater seeps into it year round through a beach barrier ridge, while freshwater comes in from nearby springs. A high evaporation rate leaves a lot of salt behind, making it an incredibly saline environment.

And what is best suited for such a specific, salty environment? Algae! The lagoon gets its color from algae with high concentrations of beta carotene, which protects them from powerful UV rays. Depending on the time of day, the season and weather, the lagoon changes through a spectrum of bright colors. The best time to visit is on a clear day, around mid-morning or sunset.

Hutt Lagoon was named by the explorer George Grey, who camped on its eastern edge in April 1839, while on his second expedition along the western Australian coast. He mistook the wet season lagoon for a large estuary and named “the river and estuary now discovered” after William Hutt, brother of John Hutt, the second Governor of Western Australia.

The lake currently contains the world’s largest micro algae production plant. From above, it looks like a patchwork quilt, with artificial ponds ranging in color from bright pink to copper red, as they develop different kinds of algae in varying concentrations.

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