Route is one of the great adventures in the Australian outback.
The 1900 plus kilometre track links Halls Creek in
The Kimberley with Wiluna, which is 550km north of Kalgoorlie.
Alfred Canning guided the original survey party in
He also led the well construction team in 1908-10
constructed 51 wells.
A few extra wells have been constructed
in later years in the southern parts of the route
where sheep have been
driven between stations.
Kimberley pastoralists pressured the Western Australian government for
the original survey.
Their cattle were being taken to Perth
by ship at considerable expense.
They envisaged a possible
alternative way to market by an overland cattle drive to Wiluna and
then by rail to Perth.
The cattle tick which was in plague
proportions in the humid Kimberley was another factor supporting this
The tick could not survive the dry conditions
through the western deserts of this route.
In all, however, there were only about 30 cattle drives along
Problems with the Aboriginals, the decline of the
Eastern WA goldfields and the opening, in 1919,
of the meatworks in
Wyndham were contributing factors.
The first cattle drive
was in 1911, and the last in 1959 - the cattle mobs were between 300
and 800 head.
motorised vehicles have travelled on parts of the route from early
the first vehicle to drive the full length of the Canning
Route was in 1968.
They took 34 days. We spent 15
days on our trip. There are more than 950 sand dunes to cross.
travelled to the start of the stock route via Alice Springs and the
track starts near the Billiluna Aboriginal Community about 170km south
of Halls Creek ò
Well 51, WERIADDO,
was the northernmost well constructed by Canning.
was Hubert Trotman, Canning's deputy, who carried out its construction.
Canning had gone on to Halls Creek to replenish
of this well the drovers could follow the pools in Stuart and Cow
However most of the cattle that went down the
Stock Route came from Billiluna station.
There is just a depression in
the ground here now. ò
Well 50, TJAN,
is 20km from Well 51.
It is situated on the edge of a small claypan
surrounded by Snappy Gums.
By the time Canning reached Well11, he could see
the value of
giving aboriginal names
to the water points so that drovers could ask
directions from the local natives. ò
Well 49, LAMBU,
has some of the most refreshing, sweet tasting of all the wells on the
Canning Stock Route.
Treks Australia repaired this well in
at the end of a
valley in the
Breaden Hills, is a delightful spot. ò
Well 46 -
well has good water. We spent 2 nights here.
the driver of one of our 5 tag-along vehicles brought a dozen sleeper
sized planks to repair
the above-ground timber of this well.
With a generator, power tools and a chain saw, it only took a
mornings work for the Treks across Australia group.
is a photo of the existing timber before the repairs ò
into the sand dune country.
distance between the dunes varied from about 500 to 1000 metres.
Beautiful scenery with the red sand, blue skies,
yellow acacias, green spinifex and an occasional white-trunked gum tree
on the top of the dune.
The beautiful flowers of
Tinsel bush ò
Well 41 - TIRU
distance, 65 km between Wells 42 and 41 is longest vehicle
distance between any of the wells on the whole stock route.
38 - WARDABUNNI
On top of this there are more sand dunes between
wells (46) than any other section. They are also the highest.
reason for all of the dune crossings is that in 1962 when Harry (Bill)
Johnson, a National Mapping surveyor,
made the vehicle track, he was
looking for the highest points to locate his trigonometric points.
A beautiful spot
... the photos say it all ....
is an Aboriginal soak near Well 27. It has been a native tool
In 1993 a group of Japanese motorcyclists scattered the ashes of one of
their former friends in this area.
He was to come on the trip
with them but was killed in an accident before leaving Japan.
A pair of Bustards. They are also called Plains
Turkey or Wild Turkey.
26 - TIWA
This well has been restored in 1983.
25 - WARNTILI
300 metres away from Well 23 on a sidetrack is a fuel dump.
The fuel was delivered by Kevin Roney of the
Capricorn Roadhouse near Newman,
460 km away along the Talawana Track.
Up until 1994 this task was carried out by Bill
Shepherd but he has now retired.
For 20 years he carted
thousands of drums of fuel for travellers and mineral exploration
which was sunk by CRA Exploration in the 1970s.
They had a camp on the site for a couple of years.
the Tropic of
area was set aside as a women's sacred area many thousands of years ago.
were some Aboriginal paintings and petrogylphs here.
Well 18 - WANYKIYU
This was the second well that Treks Australia restored (in
There is very good water and Brown Means Frogs in this well.
views of the Durba
Hills from the tops of the sand
A beautiful spot with white gums (Eucalyptus Camaldulenses), red rocks,
green grass and blue skies.
on the western face of the red sandstone wall are hundreds of white
round dots of varying diameters,
looking for all the world like a red
and white polka dot dress pattern.
A possible theory is that
are fossilised root remains.
13 - PULPURUMAL
In 1929, part of Snell's commission was to look for
aircraft landing grounds every 50 miles or so.
He considered that this lake bed, when dry, would make a suitable
called this the "Lucky Well".
By reaching it they had conqured the sand dunes and
were now in pastoral country.
The remaining wells are also closer together.
Well 6 - Pierre Springs
This well was restored by the Geraldton 4WD Club in 1991
It is one of the prettiest sites around a well on the whole of the
Canning Stock Route.
is situated on Kennedy Creek.
John Forrest and his party found this spring in 1874.
A fence! The first in 14 days!
Salt blowing off
a dust storm.
the creek beds along here were a rare type of Mulga.
These Red-barked Mulga or Minnaritchie trees (Acacia Cyperophylla) all
appear as if they have been
whittled by someone with a knife and
present a most unusual sight.
They have curly red bark, sparse foliage and grow in a narrow band of
2 was the last well that we visited. Nothing remains at the
site of Well 1.
So we have finished the Canning Stock Route (in 15 days).
From here it is onto the Meekatharra Road and 39 km to Wiluna.
of the friendly people in
Wiluna is about 550 km north of Kalgoorlie. Gold was found
near here in 1892.
By 1938 the population peaked at about
9000 with more than 1000 men working in The Big Mine.
After the mine closed in 1947 the
Only about 250 people live in the area
today. There is a gold mine operating today
There are 4 teachers at the school. I spoke to the Principal.
They have 109 students on the rolls but there were only 62 there that
From Wiluna we travelled on the Gunbarrel
Highway to Uluru.