A local recovery effort could see Pink Lake restored to its former glory, after a group of passionate residents banded together to protect the town asset.
The Lake was known as Lake Spencer until 1966, when the Shire president requested the name be changed in a bid to capitalise on the tourist attraction.
The Lake later lost its pink appearance as a result of construction in the area and commercial salt mining from 1896 until 2007.
Pink Lake Recovery Project founder Chris Pope said the initiative came about after a visit to the Lake’s lookout.
“I posted a photo asking what had happened to the lake and how it happened and there was a lot of speculation,” he said.
“Looking around the carpark there was a lot of rubbish, a lot of neglect.
“It’s a real asset to the town and it really wasn’t getting the respect it deserved.”
It was after wandering the Lake’s perimetre that Mr Pope realised action needed to be taken.
“A friend of mine told me to have a look on the Lake’s northern side and that’s where I found this half acre patch of decommissioned blue plastic,” he said.
“It looks as though it has been there for around 20 odd years and that was the final straw – something had to be done.”
Mr Pope said the photo blew up, with a number of like-minded and concerned residents discussing the Lake’s history.
“I’ve been encouraged to keep going, to keep pushing and the fact that it resonated with a lot of people has really motivated me to keep finding out more,” he said.
The difficulty for the project now lies in the nature of the materials left, with much of the blue tarpaulin having now broken down after years of weathering.
“The plastic is becoming brittle and blowing into the surrounding bushland and is affecting the fauna, it almost disintegrates in your hand,” Mr Pope said.
“The Department of Mines have said the issue has nothing to do with them.
“The Department of Parks and Wildlife and the South Coast Natural Resources Management have been very helpful but, even still, I think the quickest way to go about it would be the community effort to get it out.”
Since revisiting the site with employees of South Coast NRM, Mr Pope said the group have discovered rubber lining, black plastic and hessian fabric amongst the blue plastic.
“You start to go on this witch hunt for those responsible but it just takes up more time,” he said.
“There is plastic blowing throughout the bush and, honestly, I’m not wasting my energy going into that stuff.
“All it does is just burn up a proactive effort to try to get these things out.
“The easiest way is to tackle this situation is to have the community come out with a shovel and a few laughs.”
Though there will be several stages to the rectification process, Mr Pope said the most time sensitive element was the surface rubbish.
“The more I look into it, the more obstacles that seem to arise,” he said.
“In the long term, we’ve got some cosmetic improvements to undertake as well and help make the area a bit more attractive and the Esperance Community Arts are going to yarn-bomb a wheelie bin for us that we’ll place out there.
“We’re currently organising a community clean up and I’m teaming up with senior ranger Jason Rhodes to coordinate a disposal effort to get rid of the plastics.”
Eventually, Mr Pope said he would like to see areas of the site fenced off, the google marker removed and vehicle bans imposed.
“You only need to spend 15 minutes out there to realise that it isn't a moonscape, this area is really alive,” he said.
“The disappearance of the pink colour is a pretty small thing in comparison to the ecosystem that exists there.
Mr Pope has called on the state government to extend the nature reserve perimeter to encompass the Lake.
“We have wasted it for our generation and we may not see it again but, for our kids and their kids, I hope this will be a change forevermore.”