Maybe it’s the enigmatic nature of an internationally renowned artwork but it was hard to find out information about the Statues at Lake Ballard… Especially when it was a really long trip to get there!!!
It seemed like the local tourist bureau in Menzies was vague or purposely evasive, and given we were in the midst of a #digitaldetox we not going online to investigate via blogs! Plus, “in the olden days” there were no such things as “how to blogs” with all sorts of useful tips.
What we did, to visit Lake Ballard with two kids.
It was 2 hours’ drive from Kalgoorlie, with a stop at the decent playground in Menzies for a play. We considered doing the interpretative walk around Menzies, with some excellent metal cut-outs depicting life in the golden olden days; but decided against it. With kids 6 and 2, we know that ‘less is more’ and after just one museum in Kalgoorlie they were a tad young for historical immersion stories.
The lowdown on Lake Ballard is this: from the miniscule town of Menzies, its 20km on Bitumen and 30km on dirt, and despite having lots of rain in the days before, it was a well maintained and lots of traffic. (We went in our small family car – but all other vehicles we saw were 4WD.)
Known as InsideAustralia, internationally famous artist Antony Gormley created 51 artworks spread over a 10km diameter area. There is ostensibly no map, at least none offered! This is what makes you realise that this is the type of artwork where the artist wanted you to get out and discover and experience for yourself!!
They recommend that you don’t heat out on the Lake without 5 litres of water, and that the best times for a visit are sunrise and sunset; this is also probably due to the fact that it gets really hot in the outback!
On our #WAWinterEscapes visit our problem was different – with the winter rains it was wet and muddy! There was lots of sticky, heavy, RED MUD. It was hard to walk and our feet began to drag really quickly! We were never going to walk around the 10 kilometres, but now it seemed we’d struggle to visit more than a couple of the enigmatic figures. Miss 6 persevered and after a few falls into the mud got the hang of it and had fun. Master 2 got a shoulder ride…
Both kids used their rubber boots, mumma traveller a pair of crocs and Papa his work boots. The work boots were a mammoth cleaning job afterwards – and the crocs the easiest solution!!! We saw people with plastic bags over their shoes – this would have been the best option by far, as they could be thrown away later.
We did 6 statues in a 300 metres walk around a small island… if it weren’t quite so muddy we could have seen at least 3-4 more in a fun hour. We recommend climbing up the island – there is a slightly obscured path to the top for views across the lake.
Top Tips for Visiting Lake Ballard
- Allow a full day for a visit – with 2 hours driving from Kalgoorlie to Menzies, and another hour from Menzies to Leonora (where there are hotels etc.); plus Menzies to the site allow 1 hour each way (2 hours return.) you are looking at least 5 hours driving during this day!
- Pack enough food, fuel and water for the whole day!!! There are no shops out this way!
- The colours on the lake are best at sunrise and sunset, which incidentally is also the coolest part of the day.
- This is an extreme outback site… while we visited in winter and it was muddy, in summer the days are exceptionally hot.
- Minimum visit time to the site 1 hour but if you like hiking you could spend many hours exploring and discovering.
- There is no map, and no explanation of who the people are or what they are!!! (As far as we could tell!) This we assume was the intention of the artist, to have you out on the salt lake connecting with nature and the exploration of the outback.
- Take good solid plastic bags to cover your shoes if visiting in winter, when it is wet.
- There is a campsite with toilets, so the best way to visit would be by Camping, thus getting in a sunset and sunrise!