First Fishing & Camping in WA, Stokes Inlet five nights & solving some power issues

Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at 08:24

Member-Heather MG NSW

The black bream have been very willing to become our dinners here at Stokes Inlet. Each day, John and Barry have returned very happily with their bag limit of 6 each but have caught so many more undersize fish which have been returned to the water, despite the professional fisherman having been and fished the place very recently. As a matter of urgency when we arrived, and as soon as the van had been set up John got busy with re assembling the trailer and putting the boat on it, and they managed an afternoons fishing.
I was taken out one morning too, only landing one legal sized fish but managing also to lose a valued lure on a big one which broke the line, and getting a big tangle which saw a muttered…’well, that’s the end of your fishing then!’ and ‘it’s worse than taking Oli’ (our young grandson)…or something similar!! (lol) And I caught many, many tiny little babies. Despite their size, they put up a great fight as bream do.

We arrived at the campground on Friday morning last week, 8th May, having stayed a couple of nights in Esperance at the Pink Lake Tourist Park to do loads of dirty laundry, restock groceries and fill up with water, gas and fuel after our Nullarbor adventures. It was blue, clear and sunny when we arrived but that has been a rare sight since unfortunately. I guess it’s what we can expect for much of the next few weeks while we are in the Southern coastal area.
The campground here at Stokes Inlet National Park has excellent facilities and sites, typical of Western Australian National Parks. We are sharing one of the group sites with Judy and Barry and there is ample space even for our big vans, also the boat and trailer and our two 4WDs on the large, level hard gravel surface. Sites are private, being screened by low trees and shrubs and this also provides some shelter from the winds which seem to blow for most of the time. Amazingly it is also very quiet and for a couple of our nights here we have been the only camp site occupied.
There is about 5kms of dirt road from the Highway, and it does get a bit sticky in wet weather. Already our 4Wd is more red than charcoal grey!
Apparently this park was burnt out back in 2009 and has been re built. The toilets and camp kitchen with free gas barbeque are constructed of stainless steel, metal and very heavy timber doors so as to withstand fire damage in the future and must have cost huge dollars to build. Campground hosts (Jean and Drum who we met at Millstream Chichester a couple of years ago) maintain the composting toilets and look after the place, and provided information about activities for our stay when we arrived. Camping costs us $13.20 per night as we have pensioner concession status. It is necessary to bring drinking water as only a trickle is provided from the camp kitchen taps, and other taps near the toilets are non potable water. The only drawback is that we can’t have a camp fire.

I have really enjoyed doing the Heritage walk a couple of times, which leaves from the campground and is a one way walk through to the Day Use area around 2.5 kms away. There are so many interesting and diverse plants with lovely flowers…pincushion hakeas, giant zamias which belong to the ancient family of cycads, wattles, and others and it’s a lovely walk with three lookout points over the water. Because of the very low water level it is also possible to walk along the very picturesque shoreline, fringed with beautiful paperbarks. It Is such a pretty place and one we loved on our first visit here two years ago.

Since experiencing our batteries shutting down a few times as we were camping our way across the Nullarbor and having power issues, we had our van’s 12 volt electrical system checked at the Esperance caravan and camping centre last week, with costs covered by Jayco warranty. I have now conducted some experiments and taken some notes as to battery levels and use so we can work out whether our solar is working correctly.
On leaving the caravan park, I unplugged the 12v TV and Altech UEC VAST dual channel receiver plugs and we have only plugged them back in when using the TV and auto satellite system to watch TV (about half an hour in the mornings for ABC News 24) and a couple of hours in the evenings). It has made an considerable difference and meant that despite much cloudy weather, we have not really needed to run the generator, as when on standby the Altech box was using power unnecessarily..1.5 amps.
Also we have avoided using the lovely long LED strip lights which are great in van parks but use a lot more power than the twin ceiling lights…also very bright.
The Drifter control panel provides information as to battery level and the level of discharge but doesn’t give us feedback on how much power is being generated by the 300 watts of solar. It only shows charging when connected to 240v or generator power.
I have since learned how to check what is happening with the solar by pressing a switch on the solar controller (received a phone call from our RV/auto electrician from home yesterday who was very helpful and took me through the steps necessary to check the read out and re set if necessary after I emailed him to let him know what was happening). As yesterday was cloudy I am yet to see the maximum the panels are providing or to know whether they are working as well as they should. Thinking we can have a more efficient controller fitted when we get home as the one Jayco provides is not the best.
We have also realised that we need to fit a DC to DC charger on the BT 50 in order for it to charge our batteries more efficiently when we are traveling, but will wait until we return home to do this too as we really trust our local man.
However, even without these improvements it seems we are already at least seeing major improvements and it is possible to stay unpowered for quite lengthy periods without having to run the generator even in cloudy weather. (Luckily WA National Parks allow generators in many places so we I can make my coffee throughout the day, and If we want to run the microwave, an appliance I mostly forget we even have, or John wants to watch hours of football, or I want to use the laptop for hours on end on a wet day, we can so so).
Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. John Muir
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