Lake Bumbunga – Lochiel, Australia - Atlas Obscura

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Lake Bumbunga

Lochiel, Australia

This salt lake in South Australia features seasonal color changes and its very own loch monster. 


As you drive along the hot and windy highway north of Adelaide, it is hard to miss the bright pink shoreline of lake Bumbunga. It is not exactly an unusual sight in this part of the world. A salt lake known for its seasonal changes in color, the area has been mined for salt since 1881 and attracts its fair share of tourists. Coming into the town of Lochiel, nothing seems amiss. 

Nothing....until far in the distance, you see it. A black, snake-like form appearing from the lake bed as if the dinosaurs never left. You might think your brain is deceiving you after an uneventful hour-and-a-half drive, or perhaps the searing heat is forming a mirage just to confuse you. 

But as you pull into the carpark and follow the path to the lookout, you see it clear as day. Right there, in isolated South Australia, far from its rumored home in Scotland. NESSIE! Although she is not the original, this new and improved monster steals the show.

Her mate, and the origin of the legend, goes by a different name; the Lochiel Monster (sometimes spelled Loch-Eel). The sea monster made from an assortment of scraps, including old tires and pipes, has sat proudly in Lake Bumbunga for more than 30 years, and claims the northern end of the lake. Between these two local legends, the photo opportunities are endless!

Know Before You Go

Something to remember before visiting: if you plan on walking onto the lake, bring shoes you are prepared to burn! the sooty underlayer of the salt lake is an impressive black sludge that takes no footwear hostages.

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