Lake Bumbunga is one of the most accessible pink salt lakes in Australia at less than 2 hours drive from Adelaide. Walking on a salt lake is a surreal must-do experience in Australia. It’s surrounded by farmland and stretches out for 5km along the highway. Once you’re there you can walk anywhere on the lake.

A Salty History

The lake was mined for salt starting from 1881. The local town of Lochiel is a historic reminder of the salt industry. I found lots of evidence of mining in the form of train tracks and small wooden structures. The name Bumbunga dervies from Parnpangka, which is a local Indigenous Australian term for ‘Rain water lake’.

What time of year is Lake Bumbunga Pink?

It’s best to visit the lake during summer when the water salinity is high. That means, when the lake has extra salty water. Salt-environment algae and pink bacteria known as halobacteria cause the pink appearance. If the lake is too dry however, the pink doesn’t show much because the bacteria can’t survive. When I went (late January 2018) it was too dry so it was more orange than pink.

What to wear

Do not wear nice shoes here! They will be destroyed by the salty mud. Right underneath the salt layer is a dark, stinky mud that has a smell of rot. Flip flops are good but the best option would be a pair of old shoes that you don’t care about. Also, around the edges of the lake are some rusty metal things and broken glass to be wary of.

Flying your Drone at Lake Bumbunga

I was able to get a few minutes of footage until my DJI Mavic Pro drone completely FLEW off with the wind. In the distance is a wind farm – evidence that the winds here are very strong. After just a few minutes my drone had flown off 500m and I had to do an emergency landing. This happened at any altitude above 75m. The wind forecast was unreliable because it only takes into account ground level wind speed. All I can say is to fly with caution and use sports mode for better performance.

Can you drive a car on Lake Bumbunga?

Can you drive a car on Lake Bumbunga? The easy answer is no. I wouldn’t try it. You’ll get bogged and join the other tourists who make the same mistake every year. There is a fence around most of the lake which is a pretty clear message not to try it. There’s also accounts of horses getting sucked into salt lakes, because like a car they are too heavy for the top layer of salt crust. Aside from getting stuck in the lake, the salt would be awful for your car!


If you look closely you’ll see small insects trapped in the salt. Indeed, if you drive anywhere in this countryside around dusk you’ll find plenty of insects all over your car windscreen. In other news, we did find one type of bird here. Strangely a small flock of red capped plovers decided that this empty, barren and salty lake was a great place to find food. A very cute bird but also a bit silly!

Photography Tips for Lake Bumbunga

I would recommend coming to Lake Bumbunga at the right time of year, as well as the right time of day. When it’s sunny the pink will stand out the most, however sunset and dusk is also a special experience. Use a very wide angle lens to give a sense of scale, or a telephoto lens to compress the landscape. Also take note of the details on the ground – there are salt encrusted rocks and interesting patterns. The photos below were taken at dusk.

Staying Here

There are a few towns in the region where you can find accommodation. There’s a highly rated cafe nearby called Jitter Bean Oasis, however it was closed when we arrived close to sunset. We actually slept in the car at the carpark east of Lake Bumbunga. There were a few other campervans so it felt relatively safe.

More Destinations in South Australia?

Check out my post about the best places to visit in the Fleurieu Peninsula.

Be sure to check out my other posts about South Australia on my home page!