Canning Stock Route

I would appreciate dialogue with anyone who has recently (last 12 months) driven the Canning Stock Route. I am looking at it next year from the south and then back down the Gibb River Rd. Any credible advice would be most welcome.
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Reply By: Peter McG (Member, Melbourne) - Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008 at 04:09

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008 at 04:09

We did the CSR last year and enjoyed the trip. I suggest you go through the trek notes and then come back with specific questions.

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Reply By: Wayne (NSW) - Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008 at 07:19

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008 at 07:19

I have been 3 times in the past 3 years and will be going again this year , but have a read here first.


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Reply By: QS - Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008 at 14:21

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008 at 14:21
Thanks Wayne and Peter for your response. I have already printed off the trek notes and studied them carefully along with other publications. I would value your views on the following please:

- weather dependant of course, would you consider March/April a bit early and May/June a little better?
- Looking at photographs of the track it appears to be a good sand based, well travelled route. Is this typical of the entire track?
- Would you expect much traffic from March to June?
- Is the artesian water at "clean" wells tainted in taste although drinkable and how much H2O would you carry for two people?
- I drive a Nissan Patrol 3Lt diesel with 120 lts in the tanks. Do you carry extra fuel in additional tanks or do you prefer Jerrys and how much do you carry? I notice that you, Peter have long range tanks. Where are they placed and are they commercially available?
- What are the camping arrangements? Are you restricted to some areas and banned from others or is it open camping along the track?

Thanks again


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Follow Up By: Wayne (NSW) - Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008 at 16:29

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008 at 16:29

March/ April is a bit early, I go in June and the latest would be September.

The southern end is more a dirt track with some small rocky parts, the middle is sand and the top is back to dirt/ sandy tracks.

The trip is getting more popular, so except a bit of traffic. You might be lucky to go a day with out seeing another vehicle.

The water in the wells does change from year to year and how the person before you leaves the well. In most cases if there is a cover over the well than the water is good to drink. I have boiled water before drinking and top up the water tanks when ever I can. I have 120lt of water on board but will not use all of it before I have the chance to fill up. 60lt would be the minimum.

Long range tanks plus jerry cans are the way to go. The patrol can have an aftermarket tank fitted. How ever the main tank is the one that gets changed the most.
It will also depend on where you get the fuel from. I always go from south to north. I have full tanks at Wiluna, 280lt, plus empty jerry cans. I use the fuel drop at Well 23. This is a 205lt drum and what does not go into the tanks goes into the jerry cans. I will not have to use the Kunawarritji Community for fuel but do call in to restock food items.

The trek notes would have camp sites on them but about the only popular place that camping and visiting is not allowed now is Calvert Range. When you get the permit it will explain where you can go and where you can go. Camping is first in best spot. Most camp sites are near the good wells for water.

I will take 20 days to do the Canning Stock Route, Wiluna to Billiluna, that works out to be 3 wells per day with 4 days where I stay in camp for at least a full day. This does vary because of other campers, weather, and vehicle breakdowns.

It will take about 12 months to get the trip planned. You have started in the right place, and expect to do a lot of reading and phone calls over the next few months. It would be better to have at least one other vehicle as a minimum and 3 vehicles in a convey would be good. HF, UHF, EPIRB, Sat phone, these are not options of one or the other, but what should be carried on the trip.
There are some good books available from this site on the Canning, and they should be taken on the trip for information as you travel.

This is a remote track to travel and if planned correctly will be a lot of fun. Have a good trip when you go and if you are there in June 2008/ 2009 I might see you you on the CRS.


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Follow Up By: Peter McG (Member, Melbourne) - Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008 at 19:08

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008 at 19:08

Wayne is spot on. We have long range tanks and carry close 215l in tanks plus 30 extra in cans. We used 130l to get to Well 23 and could have gone through to Bililuna without filling at 33 but did top up. We have 80l water in the Patrol with a bit extra in smaller containers. We found we could top up enough from the wells which were good last year.

We plan on being back there between 23 and 33 this August on our way out to the Pilbara.


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Follow Up By: meggsie1972 - Monday, Apr 14, 2008 at 20:47

Monday, Apr 14, 2008 at 20:47

I am going in May will approximately be at the beginning on the 8th.

Now there is no fuel at well 23 this year. I have spoken to at the aboriginal community at well 33 and he has suggested to carry 260 litres for a landcruiser 6 cyl. I don't know what your fuel consumption is however i have been told you will use about 15% more fuel on the route than on a normal road.

As far as water is concerned the 20ltr containers are better than one large one as it is easier to fill up smaller ones at the wells.

it is a trip one does not take on without prior 4X4 sand experience and it will take 12 months to organise properly. there are a lot of vehicles travelling the route and each day just seems to bring more of us. People that live there wonder why people would attempt such a thing.

I just love it.

I will post my trip notes when finished. hopefully one can get out alive.
Enjoy the planning it is just as good as the trip
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Follow Up By: QS - Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 01:10

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 01:10
Meggsie 1972

Thanks for your input. No fuel at 23 is a problem. How did you find that this will be the situation please?

.....and I reckon that if you are only hopeful that you will get out alive then perhaps you should not go, or is this just melodramatics for another cause??

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Follow Up By: meggsie1972 - Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 08:56

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 08:56

I have been speaking to Grahame at the roadhouse at The aboriginal community and he has said that the truck has burnt to the ground. I also have read it on the VKS737 site. that is why i called him to find out about fuel.

I travel for a living and have crossed many paths in the deserts, cape, Kimberley and most of the south and one day i know my old girl won't make it, i travel on paths that are rarely ventured and some that are not even tracks.

I just enjoy getting out there, ring grahame his number is on this site, i believe he is transporting fuel but not as far south as well 23. the best knowledge is local.

Enjoy the planning
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Reply By: QS - Thursday, Mar 27, 2008 at 00:51

Thursday, Mar 27, 2008 at 00:51
Thanks again for your reply Wayne & Peter. We are and have been planning on a departure from Perth in June 09 but trek notes suggest an earlier departure. Thought it was a bit too soon.

More questions please??

- Is there any possibility that the fuel dropped in drums can be tampered with or do they have a seal on the drums to indicate they have not been compromised?

- Is the fuel available at Kunawarritji clean? (just recently picked up a load of fuel in Menzies that was foul and that was at a commercial fuel outlet/ roadhouse).

- Who do I talk to about good quality after market fuel tanks?

- I notice that you both have roof racks. I have always tried to shy away from carrying anything up top because this increases the centre of gravity. I am not fixed on this view and would appreciate your input. What do you put up there?

- I am reticent to travel in convoy. I appreciate the safety factor but I have found that in most instances others are not as prudent in preparation and our safety becomes compromised because of this.

- I am fortunate to have my amateur radio licence (HAM) and am a member of the VKS net and so carry a Ham radio and UHF and wouldn't be without my EPIRB. Don't carry a SAT Phone because I don't need to and I don't trust them.

We would be very pleased to meet you both on the track or in Perth on your way through. If you need any assistance this end, just ask.



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Follow Up By: Wayne (NSW) - Thursday, Mar 27, 2008 at 05:59

Thursday, Mar 27, 2008 at 05:59

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As you can see from the photo that the drums are sealed from the refinery. That how ever does not stop any one else from taking it.
It does work on a honest system. having said that we have not had a problem with furl being taken.
Before I started taking empty jerry cans we left a half full drum of diesel. I had a convey of 8 vehicles and that was leftover after we had filled every thing we could that would hold fuel. Most people that are short we take the fuel in the part empty drums.
The drums are marked with you name on the top, you will have to roll them out to stand them up and back you vehicle over to the drum.
There are some hand pumps there, but they have been dropped in the sand and look very ordinary. I always take my own hand pump.
The fuel at Kunawarritji (Well 33) does have a high turn over. That can be good also bad. The fuel tends not to sit in the tank for long but they can also run short very quick. I have not purchased diesel from there but have last year had to get some petrol and that was OK.
At Kunawarritji they don't accept credit cards, cash or eftpos only. We saw a driver of a petrol vehicle pay just on $900 to fill up. Fuel has been around the $2.80lt last year.

As far as aftermarket fuel tanks go, have a talk to ARB or TJM. What vehicle do you have? That will make a big difference to the size of the tank that can be fitted.

Roof racks. Very hard not to travel with out one. I have the empty jerry cans up there plus the gas bottles.

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As you may have guessed I take conveys on trips all over Australia. They do have problems from time to time, but I have fixed a lot more vehicles that are not we me than travel in my convey.

Based in Sydney I start the Canning at Yulara (Ayers Rock) and finish in Alice Springs. Perth is a bit out of my way but hope to spend some time there one day.

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Reply By: Member - Wayne G (WA) - Thursday, Mar 27, 2008 at 22:54

Thursday, Mar 27, 2008 at 22:54

I travelled the CSR last year from south to north commencing early August. The weather was magnificent, cool nights, warm days, no rain, and light cross winds. By the time we reached Halls Creek it was getting quite hot, so I wouldn't commence the journey any later. Keep an eye on the weather in the interior of WA before you go and be prepared to put the trek off for a year if they have had a lot of rain just before you go. The track will be impassable in many sections if that is the case, and you will not be appreciated if you deeply scour the track. We travelled with five other vehicles and this was good for the company, but any more and parking at some camp-sites could become a problem. The track varied from smooth sand, rocky outcrops, to bad corrugations, especially around Well 33. My Landcruiser experienced no problems, but one of our party in a brand new Patrol had to abandon the CSR when his vehicle had all four shock absorbers fail. As he did not carry replacements, he had to limp back to Well 33 (from Well 37) and exit via Marble Bar. In Nissan's defence, the shockies were all replaced under warranty, as they were a bad batch.
The secret to a trouble free trip is to take it easy - and carry all recommended spares just in case. Water at the following wells was excellent - Well 2, 5, 6, 12, 15, 26, 33, 46, and 49. Georgia Bore was also excellent. In all cases, boil the water before drinking. These conditions are subject to change so ensure you have enough. I carried 95lt but next time will take a little less.
We all bypassed the fuel dump at Well 23 and refuelled at the Kunawarritji community ($2.80lt). We all had diesel vehicles and there was no problem with the fuel. We enquired re availability before we left Perth, and were assured that there was plenty of fuel at the Community as they had just put in a much larger tank. Ensure you get a permit and it will indicate where you can, and cannot go on the CSR, as some places are now out of bounds. Camping at Durba Spring will be a highlight for you, it is one of the best in Australia.
Finally, make sure your UHF is always tuned to Ch 40 whilst on the CSR, as any other channel makes travel over the dunes downright dangerous. We met a tag-along tour (based in Victoria), coming the other way and they were on CH14. Luckily no-one was killed. The waving flag alerted us to their presence. The operator said he did not want his travellers to have to listen to a lot of un-necessary chatter. Unbelievable!
AnswerID: 295140

Follow Up By: Wayne (NSW) - Friday, Mar 28, 2008 at 07:09

Friday, Mar 28, 2008 at 07:09
Wayne G,

Just a couple of things,
Fuel at the Kunawarritji can be unpredictable. Last year in June they did not receive a delivery because of the mines in northern WA requiring more fuel for some reason. Even Rabbit Flat was effected. This was a short term problem of about a week with out a delivery.

I am not having a go at you but just to explain why I don't use CH 40 on the CSR.
Having every convey on one channel is just as bad as not having a UHF on at all.
I agree UHF is good for a convey but no one wants to listen to convey chatter all day. Important information can get lost when another vehicle speaks over, music is played over the UHF or static is heard.
I am not saying don't use CH 40 but if you are a lone traveler put the UHF on scan, if you are in a convey have at least one UHF on scan. That way you will pick up every other UHF in range that has convey chatter also every vehicle should have a sand flag not just the trip leader. The more flags the easier to be seen.

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Reply By: QS - Thursday, Mar 27, 2008 at 23:40

Thursday, Mar 27, 2008 at 23:40
Thanks again Wayne.
We have a Nissan Patrol 3Lt GU series three, 2002 and still going good.

I've looked at several roof racks and as per normal, what you see ain't necessarily what you get. The roof of my Patrol is rated at 120kg and so the majority of the steel racks only allow a carrying capacity of 60kg as the racks weigh around 60kg. My spare, using the lightest air that I can find weighs 38.2kg leaving me, say 20kg or 1 jerry of diesel. Not flash for an outlay of $1500 (TJM). I will look at a lighter alloy rack and perhaps get a couple more jerry's.

Also looked at after market aux fuel tanks and still looking. Obviously the way to go. A bit frightened by the fill up price though. Interesting over here that petrol prices increased just before Easter to $1.50 per Lt and diesel to $1.61 per Lt and now Easter has gone petrol is now $1.40ish per Lt but diesel remains at $1.60ish per Lt. This seems to be prevalent over here.

Anyway thanks again and I wouldn't mind talking to you again in the future if you don't mind.

Have you crossed tracks with Jeremy Perks of Global Gypsy's at all. He is a local Western Australian luminary in tag along, similar to yourself.

Catch you again



AnswerID: 295146

Reply By: QS - Friday, Mar 28, 2008 at 00:00

Friday, Mar 28, 2008 at 00:00
This is to Wayne G of WA. (I feel as though I may need to change my name to Wayne before I look at the CSR)!!

Thanks mate for your answer and valuable advice. I had a similar problem with oncoming traffic on the Holland Track last year but the other bloke was a very big Winnebago would you believe! It's not rocket science is it.

My wife and I are looking at leaving Bateman around May and make our way up to the top and then come back down via the Gibb River Rd. No time limit but we reckon that two months should be about right.

Did you do the trip privately or did you join a tour? If you did this privately I would be very keen to hear how you prepared for the trip and what equipment you carried if you don't mind.

Look forward to hearing from you again


AnswerID: 295149

Reply By: Member - Wayne G (WA) - Tuesday, Apr 01, 2008 at 19:02

Tuesday, Apr 01, 2008 at 19:02
We did the CSR privately. Approx. 12 mths were taken to ensure all our vehicles (and stores) were ready for the trip. I calculated the fuel requirement for my Landcruiser, for the 1000km from Wiluna to Kunawarritji, to be 200lt. Worst case scenario, 20lt/100km. Actually worked out to be 17lt/100km. Anyway, I took an extra 120lt in four 25lt and one 20lt fuel containers. A bit of an overkill, but I ended up having to help out a fellow traveller who didn't do his sums right. All fuel was carried low down in the vehicle, not on the roof rack, which was reserved for our Oztent, camping gear, spare tyre, gas bottle, tool box, etc. A good quality roof rack will have no problem with that lot. I also carried a (borrowed) 35lt water pipe, which we didn't require. My main water supply was a 55lt bladder carried just behind and below the front seats. All excess seating should be removed. You will need the inside space for food, clothes, fridges, etc. More to follow.
Wayne G
AnswerID: 295987

Reply By: Member - Wayne G (WA) - Tuesday, Apr 01, 2008 at 19:40

Tuesday, Apr 01, 2008 at 19:40
Continuing. This website contains a wealth of info for you to study. Also get hold of a copy of "Canning Stock Route, A Travellers Guide", 3rd Edition, by Ronele & Eric Gard. This book proved to be invaluable in preparing for the CSR. Make sure you carry all recommended spares. I carried mine in an old cricket bag which was just the right size. Weight can be a big problem, so discard anything that could be considered to "come in handy". My spare tyre (on the roof rack), was actually a complete spare wheel, in addition to the normal one (under the Tojo). We had no tyre problems though, because we took it easy. You sound as though you will too, as you have allocated a sensible amount of time to do the trip.The corrugations are very bad in sections and shock absorbers take lots of punishment. Well 35 has quite a few dead ones on display. If you can, fit a long range fuel tank and this should lessen the amount of extra fuel you may have to carry.
Wayne GBusselton
AnswerID: 295999

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