Stockton Lake

Saturday, Nov 04, 2023 at 18:21

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

We recently celebrated our son's birthday, plus the arrival of our brand new 2023 Ultimate GT camper trailer AND the completion of a year-long project to restore/convert our son's bus by going on a mid-week family camping trip to Stockton Lake near Collie - just a couple of hours south of Perth. So for both of us, it was shakedown trip. Leon's bus will become his permanent home with his partner and their dog. Our plan was to have had this camper on the road by early July but delivery was delayed and being November and having missed the winter getaway, our original intention to spend 4-6 months working on the road has had to change and we are now reconsidering what the next 12 months will look like.

Leon's bus is really quite special - see the Building Benji Playlist on our YouTube channel for details of the bus build - a 1983 Mazda T3000). The Playlist is not complete - but the first 2 episodes are published and will give you some idea - especially if you compare to the photos in this blog of the finished bus (although the inside is quite spectacular and not featured yet). Please subscribe if you're interested to get a notification when we release the next episodes.

Our son just happens to have a mate who works at the Wellington District office of the WA Dept of Biodiversity, Conservation & Attractions in Collie. He is a Park Ranger, and his region covers the Wellington National Park and Wellington State Forest and all the camping areas. He had taken leave to camp and spend time with us at Stockton and take us on an excursion. During our stay, we also took a look at the upgraded/new features at Lake Kepawari. Stay tuned for an upcoming podcast episode where we have a chat with Brendan - a great character with lots of stories and a fountain of knowledge!

We've been to this area before but you can keep coming back as it's just an easy, lovely place to spend a few days. This whole region is just delightful for a quick camping getaway out of Perth with some great bush camping alongside fresh water that is safe for swimming, SUPs, kayaking, waterskiing etc. We chose Stockton for this trip as as its easy access for big 2WD rigs and is dog friendly so it suited our son's needs. Some people prefer the more established, newer sites but we like the ruggedness of this one and you can literally camp on the foreshore as you can see in the photos.

Stockton Lake was once a coal mine but has since been flooded. Around the campfire one night, Brendan told us about the maze of tunnels below the lake that are supported by jarrah beams. These tunnels also lead below the camps. There is currently some concern that the tunnels are becoming affected by the change in water levels - previously, the lake was artificially filled regularly by the nearby mines bringing in loads of water daily however that practise has since stopped and today the lake levels are completely dependant on rains. As a consequence, this means the water levels that were once consistent are now variable and this has made an effect on the old jarrah beams and it is likely that DBCA will need to detonate the tunnels below the camping area before there is a collapse. The following day, we came across workmen who had commence gravity testing - this enables them to map the tunnels. We suspect that camping at Stockton Lake will need to close for a period during this works, so if you haven't been there yet, you might want to consider getting there sooner rather than later as things are definitely set to change somewhat.

Something we hadn't realised, was that the black coals on the ground near the camps along the foreshore are not from people's untended campfires - but are in fact chunks of actual "coal" from the mine site. Brendan extracted some coal and demonstrated how it burned in our campfire. It was quite fascinating. Our upbringing was long past the days of coal fire heating so it was a novelty to experience it and compare to the wood fire. Our last night at camp was just a few nights prior to the start of the Nov - April fire ban in the state of WA.

In terms of the "shakedown" component of our trip - there was much to learn and things to change. We had to return to Perth for some medical appointments and Leon and Matt continued on to Kellerberrin where they were participating in an event. Then the bus returns for the final fittings of a rear bullbar/storage rack and some other final finishes.

David and I are just taking each day as it comes - we have a lot to do to finalise our home and our youngest child (19) for a long getaway without us so the intention is to travel in Southern WA for the remainder of the year and once we think the home front is settled we will start our travels east.

Meanwhile - our 2009 Ultimate Camper Trailer is for sale. Fully setup for off-grid adventures.
See Classified listing here .


David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
Travelling fulltime in 2024
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