As the story unfolds, best told by Aboriginal elders, there are parts of the lake, like the islands, that became important to their story. Snake Island, the first one I encountered as I started my walk onto the lake’s surface, is said to be the eldest of the seven.
Spread across 10 square kilometres of salt lake are 51 sculptures designed by artist Antony Gormley, the result of a commission by the Perth International Arts Festival. This installation, known collectively as ‘Inside Australia’, is unique not only for the location but also the way in which they were created.
With a 3D body scanner imported from the USA, Gormley invited people from the community of Menzies to strip off all in the name of art. Set up in the City Hall, those who volunteered were scanned. Later these scans were manipulated further to create an abstract form of each body and finally cast into these sculptures using an alloy made from Western Australian metals.
Like the trip to get here, viewing them should be considered a journey in itself, with not all visible from one location. Spread out across the lake, it would take approximately two hours to view them all and will offer a different perspective depending on the time of day you visit. In the early hours of the morning, I imagine they would be quite eerie as they emerge from the darkness into the soft light.
For a totally different perspective, I climbed Snake Island. The wind was howling around me, making everything about the climb challenging, but the view at the top my reward. From here, a 360-degree view of the lake is on offer as far as the eye can see and I can see many of the sculptures. The mirage in the distance seems closer from up here and I reflect on how early explorers would have found this effect incredibly confusing.
The Inside Australia sculptures were gifted to the Perth International Arts Festival and were later handed over to the city of Menzies.
Lake Ballard is best visited between April and October. Discover Scenic's handcrafted Australia tours.