Canning Stock Route - Breadon Hills to Well 43

Saturday, Jul 22, 2006 at 00:00

Mick O

Saturday 22nd July
Well 43, Canning Stock Route
S 21.12.799’ E 125.58.421’

Another great days travel today starting with an early 5.15 a.m. rise, ostensibly to answer the call of nature but also to see the sunrise in our spectacular little campsite. It had been pretty damn windy during the night causing the tent fly to flap madly. This prompted a quick pegging session about the tent at 12.30 a.m. clad in budgie smugglers and boots. Not a mistake I’ve made tonight let me assure you. After watching the splendour of the sunrise from my collapsible throne some distance from camp, I prepared the fire. The last of the massive log we sourced was still glowing energetically in the wind so it took no time to get a blaze going. Bacon and tomato’s on toast ala Jude for breakfast and then a bit of a pack up and Johnno did his engineering best to jury-rig something to prevent the bullbar from moving. He ended up, packing out the gaps between the bullbar mounts and the chassis rails with some plastic salvaged from the wreck of the Ford Exploder and then wound the screws and washers back in. It worked.

We were on the road at 8 bells and we seem to have more and more room as we eat and drink our way through supplies. After pulling back onto the main track we’d only travelled 500 metres when we found the sign indicating the road to Breadon Pool and tank. Our journey of yesterday obviously hadn’t been to Breadon Pool at all! Oh well. The next leg of our journey took us 57 kilometres down the track to bypass well 47 and then turning right and west for 13 km to well 46 and a supply of fresh water. The track was in good condition (relatively speaking that is) with corrugations, sand, spinifex, thick scrub and at Crescent Ridge, large reefs of exposed quartz and stone.

We crested crescent ridge with the vehicle and took photos of the impressive cairn and survey marker there before then veering west to well 46. Travel time here is a bit of a guestimate. Whatever time you think it will take, forget it and double it, generally speaking. A good average is 20 to 25 kph. It’s generally a bit lower like 16 to 20 kph. The track can deteriorate instantly and it never looses its ability to both surprise and interest you.

Well 46 has been fully restored and we reached it after 2 ½ hours travel arriving at 10.30 a.m. and had morning tea there. The steel lids of the well hid a pleasant surprise, namely two very large king browns who have made the lower reaches of the well their home no doubt eking a fat existence from the local native animals and amphibians that come to water there. They seemed very nonplussed by our presence and the huge steel bucket dropping into the water at regular intervals didn’t worry them at all. Our 20-litre jerry was soon filled with good quality water. We fished out (pardon the pun), Johns fishing rod and with a bit of ingenuity, some 100 mile-an-hour tape and a half dozen cable ties, the yellow sand flag was flying high. There were two vehicles camped at 46 as well as three other vehicles heading south who had stopped to shower and clean up after several days on the track. For us it was tea and bickies and back on the track.

The road out of 46 was the worst we’d struck so far and at one point the track took a long meandering circular detour around a water obstacle (we presumed that’s what it was because we never actually sighted the problem!). The constant rabbiting or whoopty doing (call it what you like) caused me concern that the front shocks may be rooted. It certainly made us aware that the front tyres are scrubbing on the inside of the bull bar due to the high angle it is on due to John’s fix-it solution. This slowed us down somewhat, particularly once we hit the dunes after well 45. At well 45 we ran across a couple of characters in hilux utes from Tamworth….need I say more? The missus was a treat to behold let me assure you. They were all pretty well stoked and it wasn’t even lunch time. How many blue cans the Canning takes was a question I reckon they’d know the answer to!

From 45 you have two choices of track. It diverges and one section takes you down to 44 and then around to 43 and meets the other track there. We opted for this second most direct route thus bypassing the ruins of well 44. We’d had lunch in the shade of a eucalypt a little way south of 45 and then continued into the dune country of the Great Sandy Desert. It was very enjoyable driving despite being quite challenging purely from the levels of attention you had to maintain for stakes, corrugations, deep sand, diversions, washouts, crests and oncoming vehicles. Totally different conditions from Goog’s Track and the Anne Beadell. Challenging and yet notdifficult. Does that make sense? The dunes were not too high as to be a major issue but many of them had sudden, 90 degree turns on their approach therby adding a certain degree of difficulty. A few where eaten out and eroded mainly due to careless drivers but there was nothing that, although we were constantly in it, really warranted 4 wheel drive until late in the day. I only had to reverse and back up once and that was due to the track taking a sharp left hand turn halfway up the dune, bleeding your forward momentum (that’s my excuse). The countryside is mainly spinifex and occasional stands of eucalypt and mulga. In the lee of the dunes the track was often closed in by the shrubbery that I’m yet to identify but it sure as hell has given the duco a work over. Side mirrors have been tucked in all day!

There was much camel sign on the track (pellets and prints) but we didn’t encounter the dromedaries despite John keeping an eagle eye. We decided to take the 4 km spin into well 43 in the hope that it would provide a break in the spinifex large enough to erect the tent. We collected wood from a hilltop several km before the camp and arrived at 43 at 3.45 p.m. Not the most attractive of campsites but it’ll do. The well is dilapidated and collapsed. There are two natural soaks nearby and this well was originally blasted by Canning on his original expedition. There is a grave here somewhere (unmarked) of an aboriginal stockman who died in 1952. We have enough water for showers and decent timber for a blazing fire. Does it get better than that? Dinner was the last of the rissoles (jeez we got some mileage out of that 1.5 kgs of mince let me tell you), some chicken snags and fire roasted potatoes stuffed with garlic butter and cheese. Bloody delightful.

''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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