Did you know there’s one in Victoria too? It’s called Loch Iel and it’s located near the town of Dimboola, right on the highway between Melbourne and Adelaide, which is way easier to visit. (OK, there are actually quite a few pink lakes down south, especially if you’re planning a trip into Murray Sunset National Park, but for the purposes of this article, we’re focusing on ease of accessibility.)
It’s the perfect way to break up a road trip between the two cities because it’s about four hours from Melbourne, or four hours and 15 minutes from Adelaide. It’s also a fun side trip if you’re visiting the Grampians and wanting to rest your legs because it’s only about 90 minutes away from Halls Gap.
The color can change from hot pink to pastel rose or even lilac, depending on the weather and the environmental conditions. It comes from a combination of specific species of algae and bacteria that thrive in hyper-salty environments because they release red and orange pigments into the water.
While you’re here, it makes sense to have a quick poke around the surrounding area.
Dimboola is a tiny country town on the banks of the Wimmera River that is currently having something of a cultural renaissance. It has been hit hard by the rural decline, with many country people moving elsewhere to find work, but creatives are moving in and reviving it one sanded floorboard at a time.
Chan Uoy and his partner Jamie are a prime example. The couple previously operated two restaurants in Melbourne but moved to Dimboola three years ago to have a change of scenery. They purchased the former National Bank of Australasia building, which was constructed in 1909, and have transformed it into the Dimboola Imaginarium – a whimsical and fantastical store with meticulously curated stock.
Think quills imported from Florence, peacock lamps, flower pots, knight helmets, intricate clocks, a gramophone, bejeweled crowns, candles, soaps, and a lot of books and plants. The middle of the floor is dominated by a life-sized stuffed giraffe, while a skeleton hangs from the ceiling over the cash register.
“You can’t have an imaginarium in a normal building, it’s about being wondrous,” Chan tells Escape. “It’s about beauty, whimsy, wackiness, quirkiness. You don’t expect to see something like this in Dimboola.
There’s still much more to come. Chan and Jamie have converted the old bank vault into a private dining room, while renovations are underway to convert the rooms upstairs into accommodation. A sneak peek inside revealed that four rooms are ready to go and already accepting private bookings, based solely on word of mouth. Great care has been taken over every detail in the rooms, and each has a different theme. It’s set to become one of Victoria’s most wonderful and inspiring stays.
“You’re always surrounded by art and books,” says Chan. “And plants, Jamie is into plants. That’s the whole point. Everything is epic, you have the scale of the bank building, and every room offers a different surprise. It’s this wondrous immersive experience and it’s really an expression of joy.”
The Imaginarium isn’t the only exciting development. Publicans Stoph and Meran Pilmore have injected new life into the local watering hole, transforming the Victoria Hotel into a dinner destination. Aside from the beautifully restored staircase with an impressive collection of silverware, it has a stunning leather and velvet downstairs lounge called the Elbow Room, a lovingly restored formal dining room, and a relaxed bistro, with a new menu that combines regionally inspired dishes with classic pub meals.
You don’t have to go as far as you might expect to find one of Australia’s amazing pink lakes, and you might find that by the time you leave this area will have well and truly captured your imagination.
This article originally appeared on Escape and do not necessarily represent the views of australiaexploring.com