A couple of weekends ago, we decided it was time for a camping trip, so we threw some camping gear in the car and head out to Stockton Lake, 10 km east of Collie.
We didn’t have anyone to look after 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.
HINT – To get a good picture of the lake, keep the sun on your back. We reckon, mid afternoon, with the sun on the cliffs, is the best time to take a photo.
There weren’t very many people there midweek, 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. Kayaking and water skiing are 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.
The signs at the lake recommend limiting swimming time as the water is slightly acidic and can cause skin irritations in some sensitive people, but most people seem to have no reaction at all.
Water testing is carried out at regular intervals throughout the summer, but if you are worried, just don’t put your head under the water. Take special care with children and those who are not strong swimmers, because the water does get very deep, quite suddenly.
Plenty of Room
The campground is huge and sprawls around the edges of the lake. There’s plenty of room for the biggest motor homes 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.
Cheap as Chips
Camping fees are very modest; $11 for Adults, $7 cons and $3 for kids 6 an over. No need to book ahead. The friendly ranger comes around each day to collect your money.
Two blocks of toilets are provided. There are new composting toilets on the south side and some old flushing ones at the east end of the lake, but there are no showers or power.
You will need to bring your own BBQ or cooking equipment, picnic table and chairs as there are none provided at this campground. Generators are allowed; if you must.
It gets really busy on long weekends and summer holidays, but other times you can often have the place to yourself.
In addition to the amazing blue water, the sunset at Stockton Lake is frequently quite spectacular as well. 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 can get pretty cold in the Collie River Valley in the colder months, but we were snug and warm in the tent with plenty of rugs. Remember to check the signs at the entrance to the campground telling you when you are allowed to have a campfire.
One of the great things about camping in the cooler weather is the sight of the lake early in the morning, shrouded in mist and the glow of the rising sun, breaking through the white. As the mist rises, it reveals the incredible blue of the surface of the lake, creating some stunning opportunities for photographs.
How to Get There
Stockton Lake is about 2 hours south of Perth, WA.
Take the scenic route by turning off the SW Hwy at Wokalup and follow Mornington Road, through the hills, as an alternative to the Coalfields Hwy. It’s a lovely winding, country road, weaving its way through farmland and forest. (Have a quick look at the Google map below, because 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 east, 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.
Video – Annette Messenger