Sunsets, Stars & Statues at Lake Ballard
May 31, 2018 • Renee Nathan Helms
5 min read
On our 854th day on the road, we left Kalgoorlie and headed north to Lake Ballard. We’d been out this way before – 7 years ago, pre-kids, on a previous (albeit shorter) trip. On that occasion, we made the decision not to take the detour out to Lake Ballard. Well, what a mistake that was! Believe me, Lake Ballard is well and truly worth the effort.
But first, some background
We’re Renee, Nathan & Ryan, and we’ve been on the road full-time for nearly two and a half years, travelling in a Cub camper trailer with our now four-year-old son. We work as we travel to pay for it all, with me (Renee) picking up short-term contracts as a Registered Nurse in rural and remote hospitals, and we recently completed a three-month stint in Esperance, WA. So we’ve been pretty glad to be back on the road exploring again. We love getting out into the outback, and finding all those great out of the way places that are a little bit less touristed, and a little bit harder to get to.
Lake Ballard is seriously like nowhere else on Earth. Not only is the salt lake a stunning attraction in its own right, but the lake is also home to an excellent open-air gallery known as ‘Inside Australia’. This exhibition is made up of no less than 51 statues by artist Antony Gormley: men, women and children, dotted across the Lake as far as the eye can see.
And these aren’t just any people – they’re modelled on 51 local volunteers, recreating their individual height and dimensions. The statues are beautiful, eerie, and unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. And they’re particularly striking at sunrise, sunset, and by the light of the moon under the Milky Way. Which is why you’re going to want to spend the night.
The best bit about visiting Lake Ballard is you can stay over – and it won’t cost you a cent! There’s a fantastic free camp right on the edge of the Lake that offers excellent views and comes with a clean drop dunny, tank water (non-potable), bins, picnic tables, and even a dump point just up the road. And as far as we’re aware there are no time limits so if you want to spend a week exploring, you can do just that.
The Important Stuff
- Lake Ballard is 2WD accessible, about 180km NW of Kalgoorlie, but you’ll still need to drive on approximately 40km of dirt road. It was in good nick when we were there, but that could change with wet weather. Keep an eye on conditions and drive accordingly. Watch out for Roos, Wedge-Tails and even Camels on the road (we spotted plenty of camel tracks, but no actual camels). You should have no trouble getting your caravan in.
- If you’re not keen on free camping at the Lake, there are Caravan Parks and other accommodation options at Menzies, Leonora, or Kalgoorlie, from which you can do a day trip.
- You’ll need to carry plenty of your own drinking water, and be aware there is no mobile phone reception at the lake (although you may manage to get smidge if you climb one of the hills). Probably best to BYO toilet paper too, it seems to disappear quickly.
We spent 2 nights at the lake, enjoying the peace and tranquillity. It was a little windy during the day, and of course, it’s the outback so there were plenty of flys buzzing about, but surprisingly no mozzies overnight which were a bonus. There was probably about seven or eight caravans/campers on the first night, and only four or five on the second. There is plenty of space, so we drove a little way past the main camping area and found a spot to ourselves.
We spent our days hiking across the lake and checking out as many statues as we could, climbing up the small hills that dot the lake for a different perspective, watching the sun rise and set, and marvelling at the beautiful clear night sky completely free of any light pollution. It was a photographer's dream with so many beautiful perspectives and changing colours throughout the day. And the kid loved checking out all the different salt crystals and animal tracks. We shared a campfire with some fellow travellers, watched the moon rise, and just generally enjoyed the magic of such a remarkable place in this beautiful country.