Canning Stock Route

Canning Stock Route is one of the toughest tracks in the world

Through the vast deserts of Western Australia, the Canning Stock Route is one of the toughest and most remote tracks in the world. It runs to Halls Creek in the Kimberley region from Wiluna in the mid-west region, both in Western Australia. With a total distance of around 1.850km (1,150mi) it is also the longest historic stock route in the world. It’s one of the Australia’s best 4WD tracks.

Proper preparation is essential to having a safe, enjoyable trop on this road. The route traverses the Gibson Desert, Little Sandy Desert and the Great Sandy Desert and runs through 4 determined native title areas - Tjurabalan, Ngurrara, Martu and Birriliburu - and through the area around Wiluna that is currently the subject of a native title claim. You'll need up to three weeks, a four-wheel drive vehicle, space for food, water and spare parts, and at least a basic knowledge of how to fix a faulty car. Fuel drops should be arranged in advance, although petrol can be purchased at one or two Aboriginal communities along the way. There are also a number of wells en route.

Is the Canning Stock Route Open?

Perhaps the world's remotest road, it traverses empty desert and is a popular journey for adventurous petrolheads. The Canning Stock route is considered one of the world’s great four-wheel drive adventures. Apart from keeping the track open, the route is not maintained. Some wells have been restored but others are in ruins and unusable. While quite a few travellers successfully make the trip, it still requires substantial planning and a convoy of well-equipped four-wheel drives or equivalent vehicles, and is only practical during the cooler months. Recreational four-wheel-drive convoys can now cross the desolation with the aid of fuel drops, forging endless sand and sun-baked earth to traverse one of the least inhabitable places on the planet. One of the world’s most remote tracks, running 1,850km between the towns of Wiluna and Hall’s Creek, the dust-tinged, take-no-prisoners toughness of this old drover’s trail is tempered by the opportunity to meet the traditional owners of this isolated land and visit rock art sites that date back tens of thousands of years.

How long does it take to do the Canning Stock Route?

You’ll need to allow at least 21 days to complete the drive This trail passes through remote areas, so you need to be prepared. You also need to be completely self-sufficient for a minimum of three weeks - that means few or no facilities along the way. Fuel drops typically need to be organised in advance and the 1,850 km (1,150 mi) trip will take two to three weeks. Fuel is now available at Kunawaritji Aboriginal community near well 33. The Canning Stock Route (CSR) is one of the most remote and isolated 4WD tracks in the world and holds it appeal as the "last frontier". Stretching about 1850km from its southern end in Wiluna, to its northern end at Billiluna Community on the Tanami Track, there are no towns along the way, no major services, and a general absence of emergency support.  It is well traveled by tourists who want an adventure holiday or those looking to brush up on their survival skills thanks to the fact it is located in a barren wasteland without any amenities or services.

How many sand dunes are on the Canning Stock Route?

It’s a must-do for experienced Australian adventurers. The drive crosses 900 sand dunes, some of them higher than a three-storey building, and passes 51 wells. Trailers and heavy vehicles are not recommended due to concerns for safety, the environment and track conditions. All vehicles, whether private or in commercial tours, are required to hold permits for travelling on the Canning Stock Route. This incomparable outback adventure should only be attempted by experienced four-wheel-drivers and should never be tackled alone.

When to travel the Canning Stock Route?

The track was created in 1910. The drive can be tough on you and your vehicle and needs a truckload of advance preparation. It traverses extremely harsh arid terrain and sand dunes. You need a robust four-wheel drive with high clearance, strong suspension and both high and low range capabilities. It isn't for everybody and it certainly isn't something to be undertaken lightly as many have found out the hard way. Travel on the Canning Stock Route should only be undertaken during the cooler months, between April and September. Travelling outside this time frame is not recommended due to extreme heat and possible wet and boggy conditions.
Pic: By Peter WH (talk) - the English language Wikipedia (log), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3332801