Inside Australia: Art in out of the way WA

Lake Ballard - Western Australia - Australia There is, on a dried out salt flat deep in the heart of the Western Australian goldfields, an art installation by the renowned artist Antony Gormley. It is one of the largest outdoor art installations in the world, and absolutely worth the trek to get to.

Called Inside Australia, and comprising 51 statues spread out across a ten square kilometre area, the work will be familiar to anyone who has seen any of the artists other work. When travelling in Australia, my companions and I decided that a detour up to see the statues would be worth it.

To start with, the installation is not exactly centrally located. The nearest form of habitation, 55 kilometres away, is the tiny town of Menzies. Whilst not exactly a metropolis, Menzies does have a helpful tourist information office who will give you more precise directions to the Lake. Getting to Menzies requires a 125km drive from Kalgoorie-Boulder, Western Australias gold mining capital, also worth a visit in its own right. Here you will find Australia’s largest open cut mine, the Superpit, where you can watch insanely large trucks shuttling in and out of the hole in the ground. You can also take in the other highlights of the town, including the working brothels and the 24 hour bars where most of the barmaids parade in their underwear. I appear to have digressed. If you are still wondering where all these things are, Kalgoorie is 550km East of Perth.

Our journey to the salt lake had us arriving on a breezy November morning. We had managed to time our arrival to be just after a series of huge rainstorms which had caused the, presumably usually baked dry salt lake, to turn into a giant quagmire of mud, thinly covered by a veil of water.

Statue on Lake Ballard

Whilst this made getting around the site a bit difficult (no vehicles are allowed on the  lake), it did mean that the views were absolutely spectacular. The water caused incredible reflections, and the flatness of the lake caused it to merge into the sky seamlessly. We were the only people visiting the installation, and it literally felt like we were the only people left in the world, with these 51 statues our only remaining reminder of humanity.

Due to the conditions on the lake, and the fact that every step carried the potential for some serious mud based disaster, we elected not to do the full tour of every statue, which takes around four hours. Instead we took in some of the statues, and climbed the conveniently located conical hill a couple of hundred yards into the lake which provides an excellent view of much of the installation.

We also discovered a campsite in the creation, just on the edge of the lake, which is probably finished by now. I would highly recommend stopping over for the night if you are out here and the weather is a bit better than we had, as I can imagine the experience of watching the sun setting across the statues and the stars wheeling overhead would be quite phenomenal. As it was, our weather wasn’t great, so we scuttled back to Kalgoorie for some restorative beers, and some time to reflect on what we had experienced.

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