Canning Stock Route
Canning Stock Route
Traveling The Canning
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 the way.
Permits have recently been introduced and are required to do this trip
They are also required to travel through Aboriginal
areas, some are also needed to travel through private properties along
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)
There are contact details at the end of this
page for your information.
Whilst 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 1958.
Whilst 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
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 II.
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.
The 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 shops and facilities.
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 times.
As 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
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.
From 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.
From 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 anyway.
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 Route.
The 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.
Around Well 17, and for some distance passed it, you could find
yourself experiencing some of the toughest sandridges to cross on the
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
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 23.
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 one of Len's, to the west.
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 36.
Well 36 is, in fact, a reasonable camping ground in a desert oaks
setting. Water is OK but not the best.
Having 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.
At 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.
To 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 swim.
On the rock wall behind the pool can be found the names of several
early day explorers and surveyors, as well as some Aboriginal art.
From Well 48 the going becomes easier as the sandridges and countryside
flatten out a little.
Well 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 extreme risk.
If anything happens to your vehicle on one of these tracks you will be
in all kinds of trouble.
There 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.
Assuming Lake Gregory is not in flood, and you continue
you will arrive at the Mulan Aboriginal Community, where there is
camping permitted. You should phone through prior to entering on (08)
From 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
Park, just south of Halls Creek.
information for your trip
To arrange a fuel drop at Well 23
phone the Capricorn Roadhouse at
Newman on (08) 9175 1535. Also phone the
The Kunawarritji Aboriginal Community
Store at Well 33 to make
sure your fuel has arrived (08) 9176 9040
Advise the police before starting out and again
when you arrive at the
end - Police at Wiluna (08) 9981 7024
Police at Halls Creek (08) 9168
Wiluna accommodation Club Hotel (08)
7012 - Shire Caravan Park (08) 9981 7021
Halls Creek accommodation Halls Creek
Caravan Park (cabins and on-site vans) (08) 9168 6169 - Kimberley
Hotel-Motel (08) 9168 6101
For access to Well 5 Granite Peak
Homestead (08) 9981 2990
For access to well 9 Glenayle Homestead
(08) 9981 2990
Medical Wiluna Medical centre (08) 9981
7063 Halls Creek Hospital (08) 9168 6003
Looking forward to seeing you back here soon,
Mobile 0408 245 892