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Photographing Antony Gormley's Sculptures at Lake Ballard


sunrise on a statue at Lake Ballard

You can view & purchase this image here.


Images of "The Salt People" Near Menzies


A couple of years ago I did a road trip to Northern NSW & Queensland & along the way I diverted to Lake Ballard to capture some images of Antony Gormley’s famous sculptures.


Lake Ballard is an ephemeral salt lake, meaning it only holds water for a short period after the area receives rain.


It’s pretty darn impressive with a surface area of over 12, 000 acres (4,900 ha), is 50 kilometres long & 20 kilometres at it’s widest point.


aerial photo of Lake Ballard

A Google Earth image of Lake Ballard


The camping area where you access the walk to view the sculptures is about 76 kilometres from the town of Menzies in the Goldfields region of Western Australia.


But the lake’s eastern end is 18 kilometres from the Menzies township.


Who is Antony Gormley?


His full title is Sir Antony Mark David Gormley OBE & he’s a British artist who is also known for other works such as Angel of the North, another public sculpture in Gateshead in the UK.


He has also been commissioned for installations in Liverpool, London, New York & Sao Paulo in Brazil.


You can learn more about him & see his works by visiting his website: https://www.antonygormley.com/


What’s The Meaning Behind The Sculptures?


A sculpture at Lake Ballard

You can view & purchase this image here


People who’ve met Antony Gormley say he’s quite an eccentric character (aren’t all artists?!)


He explores the human form & it’s relationship to the environment & was inspired by Lake Ballard when he visited in the early 2000s.


In 2003 the Perth Festival commissioned him to create this installation & so he went about representing the human form & decided that he would involve the locals in a quintessential way.


The project is called Inside Australia & there’s more information on the https://lakeballard.com/about/antony-gormley-and-inside-australia/ website.


He found 51 locals to volunteer & created an exact height & body scan of each individual.


He then sourced local materials to form these sculptures & went about placing them around the lake.

On The Road to Lake Ballard


Watch my short video I shot below to get an idea of the size of Lake Ballard. The speck in the distance is Suzie at the campsite. Notice all the flies?!


Before I had my 4WD campervan, my road trips were fairly local as I used my little work van, a 1990 Suzuki Super Carry I call Suzie ( yes..very imaginative!)


Old Suzie was getting tired, so an engine rebuild, a new sporty exhaust & some go faster wheels were fitted for the journey.


Anyway, I set off in Suzie for the East Coast of Australia, a 13,000 kilometre return trip. (about 8,000 miles)


I’ve heard about these iconic sculptures & was keen to visit & capture some images, so a small detour was made


Is The Road to Lake Ballard Sealed?


When I was there, it was partly sealed, but the last 50 kilometres or so was dirt, but well graded & easy for a 2 wheel drive vehicle to access.


Little Suzie had no problem & I got a few enthusiastic waves from fellow van drivers in more substantial vehicles!


Accommodation & Camping Facilities


The accommodation is BYO .. campsites are free & can accommodate caravans & camper trailers.


There’s fairly large sites & some have fire pits, although fires aren’t allowed from November through to March.


Drop toilets are available & were in a pretty decent state too!


There’s no bins, so please make sure to take your rubbish with you.


As far as bringing your dog, there’s no sign to say otherwise.


I did see people with their furry friends walking on the lake but never heard any later in the evening.


So whether you’re allowed to camp with your pets is uncertain.


Best to contact the Menzies Visitor Centre on (08) 9024 2041 or visit their website.


I was there in April & was fairly quiet & I found a nice private spot to set up for a couple of nights without any neighbours.


campground at Lake Ballard

Old Suzie at my camp at Lake Ballard.


Does Lake Ballard Have Drinking Water?


No, there’s no drinking water, so it’s important to bring enough with you for the duration of your stay.


Of course you’ll need water for cooking too, & I always carry a couple of 25 litre water containers with me & keep them topped up everytime I visit a roadhouse or town.



Can You Drive on Lake Ballard?


Vehicles aren’t allowed on the lake itself, it’s strictly walking only.


This is the joy of experiencing Lake Ballard, meandering around amongst the iconic sculptures.


landscape photograph of Lake Ballard

You can view & purchase this image here


There’s no formal walking tracks, but don’t worry about getting lost, as you can’t miss all the footprints left behind by other visitors.


Walking Lake Ballard & Viewing The Sculptures


close-up photo of Antony Gormley's sculpture at Lake Ballard

You can view & purchase this image here


The sculptures are placed over a 10 square kilometre section of the lake.


Apparently nobody has actually walked to all 51 sculptures in a single day.


I must admit, I only covered a smaller portion of the lake as you don’t realise how large it is until you’re standing on it looking at the vast horizon stretching in all directions.


Remember to carry enough drinking water, as it can be easy to start wandering around earlier in the day to realise you have to walk back to camp in the heat.


If you’re not used to the Australian sun, a good hat is recommended at any time of the year.


It was dry when I visited, but sections of the lake were still reasonably muddy.


So be prepared to take your boots off or get them caked in mud.


muddy boots walking on Lake Ballard

Muddy shoes after walking around on Lake Ballard.


Best Time to Visit Lake Ballard


If you’re not good in the heat, the cooler months from around April to October are nice, as beautiful sunny days can be expected but without searing temperatures.


It was April when I visited & it was perfect, although very cold first thing in the morning.


I was actually on the lake before daybreak to capture some sunrise shots.


sunrise photo of statue at Lake Ballard

You can view & purchase this image here


I didn’t realise how cold it would be & wasn’t properly prepared, but I didn’t want to miss the sunrise by walking all the way back to the van.


So I shivered for an hour or so … the upside was there were no flies!


The dirt road from Menzies was dry, but if there’s rainfall it’s a good idea to check that the road is open, especially if you have a 2 wheel drive.


Antony Gormley sculpture at Lake Ballard

You can view & purchase this image here


Aboriginal Significance


I’ve had a quick look into this area & it’s significance for the original people.


Lake Ballard sits on the eastern limits of the Ngurlu lands which extended over approximately 13,000 square kilometres (5,000 square miles).


It’s a shame that the original Wongi/Wangkatha name for this lake has been lost.


But the original custodians of this land were living near & visiting Lake Ballard for well over 10,000 years. ( I personally believe it’s a LOT longer).


The lake is associated with the Seven Sisters Dreaming story.


The Seven Sisters, if not by the same name, is known by many cultures around the world.


The Seven Sisters are the Pleiades that can be seen in the night sky with the naked eye, especially during the winter months.


Aboriginal spirituality tells the story of the Seven Sisters coming down to the lake to play on it’s surface.


A man started chasing them trying to catch the youngest sister.


Being frightened, they decided to hide & the features that can be seen on the lake today are testament of the chase & their hiding spots.


The stories & meanings that the original people tell of this land deserve far more explanation than I’m able to offer, so I encourage you to research for yourself, as I’m certain I haven’t done justice to the real significance of the connection the Aboriginals have to Lake Ballard & surrounding area.


Antony Gormley statue on Lake Ballard

You can view & purchase this image here


Feel free to browse through my portfolio of photographs, not only of Lake Ballard, but other landscapes & fine art images.



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