Calling Lake Ballard the strangest place in Australia is quite a statement considering how many places are worthy of that title. Nevertheless, it wins the official JimandJamie.com nod.
Lake Ballard is not easy to get to. You really have to want to get to it. And we did. (You’ll see why in the photos below.)
If you start in Perth (where all things in Western Australia begin and end), it’s a seven hour drive east to Kalgoorlie, followed by a two hour drive north to the don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it town of Menzies. That’s where you turn off the main highway and go directly west. You’ll cover 18 miles of paved road followed by 12 miles of dirt road before you reach the turn-off for Lake Ballard.
But when you get here, when you walk up and over the low berm that surrounds the flat, dry, empty expanse that’s really more salt flat than lake bed, you’ll take one look and say, “Wow! That’s really strange. But very cool.”
What prompts that reaction is a completely unexpected and incongruous display of 51 alien-looking steel sculptures scattered across 2.7 square miles of dry lake bed and salt flat.
I suppose this isn’t unusual considering how difficult it is to get to Lake Ballard, but we were almost alone as we wandered around the salt flats. On this clear, beautiful morning, Jamie and I accounted for 50% of the visitors viewing this remarkable art installation.
It’s all the work of British artist Antony Gormley who described it by saying, “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…”
Like I said, strange but very cool.