The Canning Stock Route
Traveling The Canning Stock Route is a long trip of a little under 1900
kilometers. It will take you through harsh and remote desert country.
with very little in the way of fuel and supplies being available along
You must have adequate maps and information for your trip along the historic Canning Stock Route - We have the best
required to do this trip They are also required to travel through
Aboriginal areas, some are also needed to travel through private
properties along the way.
You will need to arrange fuel
supplies along the way and arrangements can be made for a fuel drop at
Well 23, but this has to be arranged up to two months in advance, and
only comes in 200 litre drums. Wiluna to Well 23 is just on 700km and
there is no fuel along the way. (Please note that the fuel situation
may have changed so please check the latest details)
There are contact details at the end of this page for your
building a stock route over this very remote and ever changing desert
had been contemplated before it was not until 1908 that Alfred Canning
finally set out with a party that would endeavor to sink the necessary
wells that would supply the stock men with water for their
Between early 1908 and 1910 Canning had set up a total of 52 wells
between Wiluna and Halls Creek. Once completed the Canning Stock Route
was little used and started to fall into disrepair. After a few
partial attempts to resurrect the route Canning was eventually brought
out of retirement in about 1930 to complete the task.
From the early 1930's until the 1950's the route was used fairly regularly, with the last cattle passing through in
it is hard to imagine the first motor vehicle used the Canning Stock
Route in 1925 when a Michael Terry travelled from Billinula to Well 48.
Later, in 1929, two surveyors travelled from Wiluna to Well 11 by
The owner of Carnegie Station was know to have
regularly travelled from the property to Well 10, from where he
delivered cattle and picked up supplies from the early 1930's until
after World War
Despite this vehicle activity it wasn't until 1968 that a
vehicle driven by a surveyor drove the full length of the Canning. From
then on more attempted the journey but it wasn't until the fuel drop
off point at Well 23 was established in the 80's that the Canning Stock
Route gained in popularity amongst recreational four wheel drivers.
These days several hundred vehicles cover the route annually.
trip starts on the edge of the desert area of Western Australia at
Wiluna, which is a modern day gold mining and cattle station
region. Being a regional centre Wiluna is well stocked up with its
To start your trip head north out of town and a
few kilometers up the road you will see the turn off to Well 1, which
is a few kilometers off the track. Keep heading north until you find
Well 1A where you are able to camp alongside the Negara River.
About 40 km from Wiluna you need to take a right turn towards Well 2, otherwise you will end up at the Cunya Station.
Whilst the distances between wells may not seem very long by just looking at the kilometers the going can be very slow at
you continue on your journey north you will pass the various wells,
some of which are in a state of disrepair or ruined all together. North
of Well 4A is the turnoff to Windich Springs, which is just a short
distance off the Canning. Depending on the number of cattle that
have been brought there to water this can be a reasonable camping
At Well 6 you will experience an improvement in the
landscapes with the well located in a stand of White Gums. There is a
good water supply here and it is an excellent area to camp.
here you continue heading north through pastoral country until around
Well 10 where the desert country really begins and you start crossing
the desert sand ridges.
Having travelled passed the Carnarvon
Range to the west you will pass the salt lakes of White Lake and Lake
Aerodrome, also to the west, or to your left near Well 12. Whilst it
may be tempting to go for a spin on the crusted salt lakes, don't.
Well 15 has been restored within the last 10 years and has a good supply of water and a good camping spot.
Well 16 the track is rockier than before and about 15km past Well 16 is
Canning's Cairn, standing high on a rocky hill. You can drive up to the
base of the hill but it is walking from there to the top. The views
from the top are your rewards, besides you probably will feel better
for the walk
You have now travelled about 450km from Wiluna and
about another 240km to go before you get a fuel top up. A few
kilometers north of here, and before Well 17 the track starts heading
westerly, but straight ahead are the Durba Hills. Here you will find
the Durba Creek that runs through the Durba Gorge.
The green grass and tall gums in the gorge go towards this being the best camp site along the entire Canning Stock
degree to which this can be described as an oasis depends on how
recently rains fell, but it is a very pleasant spot to stay over for a
while as there is a bit to do and see around here. It isn't uncommon
for people to stop over for two or three days or even more.
Well 17, and for some distance passed it, you could find yourself
experiencing some of the toughest sandridges to cross on the whole
North of here you will pass the Diebil Springs surrounded
by the interesting Diebil Hills until a few kilometers south of Well 19
where you will cross the Tropic of Capricorn.
Well 22 is a
good camping spot with a good well and fresh water. About 10km on from
here is the junction with the Talawana Track. Turn right and head east
along the Talawana Track for about 22km and you will arrive at Well 23,
and your fuel drop.
You continue along the Talawana Track until
a little before Well 25 when you again get onto the Canning Stock
Route. You will experience some very tough sandridges north of
Well 25 with your vehicles performance through the sand severely
hampered by the fact that you recently added quite some weight to it
with fuel you took on at Well
From Well 32 the track improves and north of here you will
see the Wapet Road turnoff to the left that leads to the Kunawarritji
Aboriginal Community. here you can do limited re-fueling and stock
replenishments as well as taking a shower and enjoying the limited
About 15km north of the turnoff to Well 34 you will
come to junction with the Callowa Track, another of Len Beadell's
accomplishments, which extends the Gary Highway, also The Callowa
Track is now impassable.
You can continue straight on towards
the Bungabinni Native Well, which has a good supply of water. This way
will bring you back onto the Canning a little north of Well 36, or you
could turn right onto the Callowa Track and continue for a little under
10km, where you again turn left back onto the Canning Stock Route and
head north. About 30 kilometers on and you are at Well
Well 36 is, in fact, a reasonable camping ground in a desert oaks setting. Water is OK but not the best.
passed Tobin Lake between Wells 39 and 40, Well 41 has been recently
restored and the water drinkable although it is stained and looks
dirty. From here you are about 90km from Helena Spring along a graded,
though rough, track.
A little further is the Guli Tank and Lake Guli. This used to be Well 42 and not much of it remains.
Well 45 you can take the track of to the left, which leads to Well 46
which has also been restored and has a supply of reasonably good water.
This is by far the most used and popular and shorter
route. Alternatively you could go off to the right and travel via Mt
Ford and brings you out at Well 47.
the south of Well 47 you will see the Southesk Tablelands with its
peaks. From here you will head over dune country to Breaden Hills to
your east near to Well 48.
There is a track leading into these
hills and an easy walk from the car park to Breadons Pool and Godfreys
Tank. There may not be water in the pool so don't get your hopes up of
a cool relaxing
On the rock wall behind the pool can be found the names
of several early day explorers and surveyors, as well as some
From Well 48 the going becomes easier as the sandridges and countryside flatten out a little.
49 is about 25km north of the Well 48 turnoff and has the nickname of
Crystal Well. This will give you an indication of the quality of the
water that can be found at the well.
There are a multitude of
tracks leading off the Canning Stock Route around here that were used
for seismic surveys in the passed. Don't be tempted to explore, they
nearly all end up nowhere and you could be putting your safety at
If anything happens to your vehicle on one of these tracks you will be in all kinds of trouble.
is one of these tracks, however, that heads east between Wells 50 and
51, to Balgo. There are occasions, when Lake Gregory is in flood and
impassable, that this route has to be taken. This route brings you back
onto the Canning near the Billilula Aboriginal Community.
Lake Gregory is not in flood, and you continue north, you will arrive
at the Mulan Aboriginal Community, where there is camping permitted.
You should phone through prior to entering on (08) 9168 8900.
the Mulan Aboriginal Community you will head east for about 45km to
Balgo which has diesel fuel and other limited supplies available as
well as camping. Once again you must phone before entering on (08) 9168
From Balgo you travel about 40km until you meet up with
the Tanami Track, about 65km east of Billiluna. From Billiluna it is a
relatively easy northerly run along the Tanami Track until you meet up
with the Great Northern Road at Koongie Park, just south of Halls
The information provided on this web page is for use as a guide only.
If you are planning to undertake this trip you must seek out other
authorative advice and information. Desert and Outback travel
can be very hazardous and should only be undertaken after lengthy and
careful planning. The owners of this website shall not be held
responsible for any damage or injury that you may experience during any
conventional vehicle or four wheel drive trip, desert or otherwise.
Distances between places mentioned on this page are as a guide only.
You must verify these details yourself using professional maps and/or
mapping equipment before you set out on a the trip. Do not attempt to
access desert or other remote regions in an ill-prepared vehicle and
without adequate communications equipment. Do not under estimate the
limited supply of fuel, water and provisions in these areas as well as
the possibility of encountering extremely harsh elements and conditions.