A couple of weekends ago I decided I should make good use of the lingering fine weather, knowing that winter will arrive eventually, so I threw some camping gear in the car and headed out to Stockton Lake 10 km east of Collie.
I didn’t have anyone to look after my old mate Dusty, so he came too. Yep, that’s right; dogs are welcome as long as they are on a lead. The first thing you will notice when you arrive is the incredible blue of the lake. It’s an old coal mine and the water is crystal clear. Rimmed with white limestone cliffs, it is stunningly attractive, with the water sparkling iridescent blue in the sunlight.
There weren’t very many people there so we were able to get a waterside spot. Yep that’s right; step right out of your tent or caravan only a few metres from the water’s edge. It was too cold for swimming this time, although that didn’t stop Dusty and a few young blokes showing how brave (or crazy) they were. Water skiing is allowed and in the warmer months there is usually a boat or two zipping around the lake with some pretty spectacular displays of ability and a good measure of shrieks and giggles from kids (and grownups) being dragged around on tubes and anything else that floats.
(We’ve had a couple of very dry seasons and the water level in the lake is pretty low, so it is closed for skiing at the moment. We’ll let you know when it is re-opened)
At the end of the day, as the sun dips below the horizon, the deep blue fades and the lake’s surface reflects the colours of the sunset in a magic display of pink and gold.
In the cooler months you are allowed to have a campfire, so we made good use of the opportunity to cook dinner over the fire and sit and watch the flames until sleepiness took over and we crawled into the tent. It was jolly cold and got down to about 2 degrees, but three doonas kept us warm and snug. There is a sign at the entrance telling you when you are allowed to have a campfire.
When we climbed out of the tent in the morning we were greeted with the site of the lake shrouded in mist and the glow of the rising sun breaking through the white. As the mist rose, it revealed the incredible blue of the surface of the lake, creating some stunning opportunities for photographs.
Plenty of Room
The campground is huge and sprawls around the edges of the lake. There’s plenty of room for the biggest motorhomes and caravans without the need for fancy reversing skills, to get a good spot. With no set bays, it’s ideal if you are travelling with friends and want to set up together.
There are two blocks of toilets on the southern and eastern sides of the lake, but no showers or power. Generators are allowed; if you must.
Camping fees are very modest; $8 for adults, $6 cons and $3 for kids 6 and over. The friendly ranger comes around each day to collect the camping money.
It gets really busy on long weekends and summer holidays but other times and during the week you can often have the whole place to yourself.
What More Could You Want?
While you are in the area, don’t miss a visit to Collie Canvas and Camping World.
You don’t very often find a camping shop like this outside the city. Their range is huge and the staff are really friendly and helpful. Just look for the big green building down from the traffic lights.
If you need supplies, there are two major supermarkets and a variety of specialty stores in the town of Collie.
It also boasts numerous places to grab a bite to eat. A couple of our favourites in the colder weather are The Colliefields on the main street or Harris River Estate Winery, just 5km north of town on Harris River Road. Both have big warm fires to keep out the winter chill and that typical relaxed country atmosphere.
How to Get There?
If you are travelling from Perth, you can turn off the SW Hwy at Wokalup and follow Mornington Rd through the hills as an alternative to the Coalfields Hwy. It’s a lovely winding country road, weaving its way through farmland and forest. Check out the google map below as there is a tricky dog leg in the road and we don’t want you getting lost out there.
Follow the signs into Collie and then take the Coalfields Hwy towards Darkan. 10 km east of Collie you will see Piavannini Road and the big blue sign to Stockton Lake. If you cross the railway line you have gone too far. The road is sealed all the way to the campground.
For more ideas of things to do and see in the Collie River Valley check out our Facebook Page or browse the blogs on our website.