Inside Australia – Ularring, Australia - Atlas Obscura

Inside Australia

Ularring, Australia

A series of eerie metal stick figures are spread out over four square miles on the bed of a huge salt lake in the Australian Outback. 


Lake Ballard is an ephemeral salt lake spanning over 12,000 acres, situated miles from the nearest village and tied by local legend to the star cluster known as the Seven Sisters. It is also home to a remarkable art installation in honor of its native culture.

In 2003, as part of the Perth International Arts Festival, Turner Prize-winning British artist Sir Antony Gormley created 51 abstract sculptures and embedded them in the bed of the lake. The strange, skinny, metal figures dot the already otherworldly landscape over an area of four square miles. Titled Inside Australia, the installation was supposed to be removed after the Art Festival’s end, but it has proven so popular and such a draw for tourists, the figures have remained to this day.

The lake is about 30 miles from the tiny town of Menzies (population 56) in Western Australia. Being an ephemeral lake, it only holds water periodically, and for thousands of years, it has been an important site to the Aboriginal people of Western Australia, who first inspired Gormley to create the work. Although closely associated with a local legend of the Seven Sisters (the constellation also known as the Pleiades), the lake’s English name is said to be based on a British miner and railway engineer named Robert Ballard who lived and worked in the region during the late 19th century.

It was a time when mining and railroads were both central to the development of Australia, so while his name stuck, the original name of the lake seems to be lost to history.

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