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The Canning Stock Route

Outback Travellers Guide Canning Stock Route Map

Canning Stock Route Track Guide - one of The Outback Travellers Guide series, Spiral bound in 15 sections with lots of pictures and information and available in our Maps Shop
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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 the way.

You must have adequate maps and information for your trip along the historic Canning Stock Route - We have the best available.

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 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)

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 cattle.

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 by Chevrolet.

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 cattle that have been brought there to water this can be a reasonable camping area.

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 whole trip.

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 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 camping facilities.

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

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 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.

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 8900.

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 Creek.



Disclaimer 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 the Simson 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.


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