Image: AdrianMakarov on Flickr
Salt Lakes like Lake Ninan are a dime a dozen throughout the WA Wheat Belt. Lake Ninan is particularly nice one to visit for a walk, a picnic or to camp overnight, located about 10km west of Wongan Hills north-east of Perth. When the water levels in the lake are high enough it’s also a popular waterskiing spot, and people sail and canoe there too.
The water level varies a lot throughout the year, but as long as there’s a little bit of water in the lake, birds will be present and you’ll get beautiful views of the low hills on the far side reflected in the still water.
Our Visit to Lake Ninan
We stopped at Lake Ninan on a road trip to enjoy a picnic in the shade beneath the trees and undercover area next to the lake. As we were visiting in Spring there was a some water in the lake. Not much, but enough to wade in. The water was so salty that after wading in the lake our feet and ankles were coated in a thin white layer of salt. According to the information sign the lake is six times saltier than the ocean, which doesn’t surprise me at all.
Along the water’s edge the ground was a solid mass of pink and white salt, many centimetres thick. The salt broke off in big crunchy chunks beneath our feet with each step.
I took a few pieces of salt home in a zip-lock bag, to keep a small piece of the Wheat Belt in the house as a souvenir from our road trip. The chunks of salt lasted a surprisingly long time, surviving attempts by our flat mate Dave to use them in his cooking (I wouldn’t let him!), and also a big move across the continent to Sydney… but I have no idea where they are now!
About Lake Ninan : History and Environment
Lake Ninan was once a thriving saline wetland ecosystem home to abundant fish and bird life. But like many wheat belt areas, over the years deforestation and farming has caused the water table and salinity levels to rise. The lake is affected by everything that happens in the catchment area that extends north as far as Bindi Bindi. Fish species that were once abundant are no longer consistently present, and the numbers and variety of birds has reduced due to lack of food in the lake.
Dead trees that could not withstand the harsh salty conditions form interesting shapes and stark sillhouettes, a plus for photographers at least:
Images: Paul Reid on Flickr
Lake Ninan has played a significant role in the life and times of Wongan Hills Shire since early settlement days. Around 1910 water from the lake was carted up to the town by camels to supply steam trains, and housewives used to go down to the lake to wash their families’ clothes.
In the 1950’s and 60’s, salt was mined from the lake and a tent settlement and school were set up nearby.
Throughout the history of settlement in the area the lake has been a meeting place and recreation site used for boating, water skiing, swimming, picnics, scout camps and fishing – although rising salinity and environmental degradation has made it less suitable for recreation than it once was.
Info for Visiting Lake Ninan
Getting there: Lake Ninan is located 10km south-west of Wongan Hills. You can see it when driving along both Yerecoin South-East and Calingiri-Wongan Hills Roads, but it is best accessed from the Calingiri-Wongan Hills Road, which skirts its eastern shoreline. The gravel driveway down to the waters edge will take you to a large carpark next to the picnic and info shelter.
Picnics at Lake Ninan
Lake Ninan is a rather dry and barren place for much of the year, but I’d still recommend it as a nice spot to stop for a picnic if you’re in the area. It has a picnic bench beneath a shelter, which is surrounded by some scattered trees that provide further shade.
Camping at Lake Ninan
Lake Ninan would be great for camping the night, whether you have a campervan/caravan, or even just a tent or swag. It’s a peaceful spot, and I’d imagine sunset or sunrise reflected in the still water would be a sight to behold.
There’s a lot of flat open ground, some shady trees, plus the basic picnic facilities described above. It costs nothing to camp at Lake Ninan (which is permitted by the shire council, by the way), but you need to be completely self-sufficient due to the lack of facilities.
Last Updated: 24th March, 2015.
First posted on 28th January, 2015 by Bonny.
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