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Home > Travelogues > 2010-2017 Travelogues Index > Mid West > Port Gregory
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Port Gregory - a small port town with a convict and mining history

Hutt Lagoon (Pink Lake)

 

Heading towards Port Gregory along the George Grey Drive from Kalbarri the elongated pink lake, Hutt Lagoon, appears to the west, while to the east there are numerous quarries into the sand dunes. 

 

These quarries are mining industrial garnet, the sand used in wet or dry sand blasting.   The Port Gregory garnet mine in Western Australia has grown to become the world's leading producer of garnet abrasives.  Port Gregory Garnet Mine is owned and operated by GMA Garnet Pty Ltd.   

 

On the west side, is Hutt Lagoon.  Hutt Lagoon was once the estuary of the sixty kilometre long Hutt River but at some point in the prehistoric past, the river shifted its course further south and the former estuary was left isolated from both river and sea by a sandbar.  The eight kilometres long Hutt Lagoon is very shallow; only about one metre deep in wetter times of the year.

 

Towards the south end of the lagoon, there are a number of divisions, with different colours in the water within these squares.  Google satellite map shows the aquaculture as well as the garnet quarries. 

 

What are we seeing in the shallow pink water of the lagoon?  Hutt Lagoon is a pink lake, a salt lake with a red or pink hue due to the presence of the carotenoid-producing algae Dunaliella salina,. The lagoon contains the world's largest microalgae production plant, a 250 ha (1 sq mi) series of artificial ponds used to farm Dunaliella salina.

 

Dunaliella salina is harvested for beta-carotene as a dietary supplement and as a food colouring, Vitamin A and in cosmetics.  It is also being researched as a cancer treatment. 

 

Hutt Lagoon also provides a commercial supply of Artemia parthenogenetica brine shrimp, Artemia is a specialty feed used by prawn and fish farmers and the aquarium trade. Brine shrimp farm.

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The tiny town of Port Gregory

 

Now officially called Gregory, the old name has stuck with the store and caravan park still using Port Gregory in their name.  The port and town was named after explorer Augustus Gregory.

 

A stock route running between the Geraldine and Port Gregory became the lifeline for the region and later, for the Gwalla and Wanerenooka mines which became Northampton. By the early 1850s it was decided in official circles in the Victoria District that the importance of Port Gregory would warrant a separate townsite.

 

Originally named Pakington (or Packington), the town was proclaimed in 1853 near the Hillock Point whaling station, a little further north than the present town of Gregory. 

 

Another town was surveyed and proclaimed Lynton in 1854, a few kilometres inland from Pakington and on the inland side of Hutt Lagoon.   A convict hiring station was established at Lynton. 

 

The Port was originally established as a much needed supply and export point, initially for the Geraldine Mine on the Murchison River and later, for the other mines inland on the Northampton mineral fields. It was hoped it would become the main port for the north.

 

Sourced from State Heritage WA

 

A five kilometre reef running roughly parallel to the coast creates a natural harbour.  While the port proved unsuitable for larger ships, it remains as a fishing harbour for local residents and holidayers.

 

While the town has a small permanent population (only 46 at the 2006 census), it is holiday town, with a caravan park which includes 80 powered sites and cabin accommodation, as well as other types of accommodation being available in the town.  There is also cottage accommodation and caravan sites at Lynton Station.  When we stayed at the caravan park some years ago, there were retirees living permanently in caravans in the park.  I do not know if this is still the same.  Several commercial fishing boats also moor in the harbour. 

  

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travasmtc2014b008001.jpg
Hutt Lagoon, a pink lake at Port Gregory, Western Australia, showing aquaculture beds in the lake, and Garnet sand mining in the dunes beyond.