A trip down the Canning is like nothing you could ever imagine. One solitary set of wheel tracks setting out across the Great Sandy Desert eventually connecting with Wiluna, 2000 km to the south making it the longest and most remote stock route in the world.
It is a place of great natural beauty, with land systems ranging from spinifex plains to wetlands, dune systems, desert oak forests, spectacular ranges and escarpments and salt lakes. It is also the longest heritage trail in Australia, containing Aboriginal rock art galleries, lonely graves of stockmen and explorers, and the series of wells that punctuate the route. Some of these have been restored, and good water can be obtained. Others lie in ruins.
This is a fully catered expedition. You can choose to travel in our vehicles or tagalong in your own. The Canning today is one of the worlds greatest 4X4 adventures that combines a rich cultural heritage, extraordinary natural history, and an exciting remote area tour. Diamantina has been operating down the Canning Stock Route since 1992.
Travel with the acknowledged and recognised experts! You will be travelling in a small convoy of modern desert equipped expedition four wheel drives over the Great Sandy Desert. We never use large vehicles like unimogs or 4X4 coaches. Your drivers and guides are all experts in their field.
After lunch just north of Yuendumu we enter the realm of the termite. The vast Tanami Desert stretches before us, the anthills are in places so dense they resemble a city of skyscrapers.
We travel through Rabbit Flat and camp just short of the Western Australian border.
We will enjoy breathtaking views from the Balgo Pound. On up the track we lunch at Sturt Creek and visit the remarkable Wolfe Creek meteorite crater.
We camp on Ruby Plains Station, the only Kidman property in the Kimberley.
Following the western edge of the Sturt Creek overflow, we arrive at the first Canning Stock Route Well 51, known as Weriaddo.
This is the real start of the Canning; it was the delivery camp for the drovers, and the last well constructed by Canning. We camp on a large clapyan near Well 50.
The spectacular buttresses of the Breaden Hills rise above us. We will explore Breaden Tank, a rock hole with an Aboriginal hide surrounded by massive fig trees and walk to Godfrey's Tank, where explorer David Carnegie and Canning's second in charge Hubert Trotman carved their names into the sandstone.
We will continue south to camp on a flat surrounded by Snappy Gums at Well 46.
Sometimes we are in a sea of spinifex with its blonde heads waving in the breeze like a vast wheat field, other times we are in a forest of holly grevillea with its red inflorescence hanging like Chinese lanterns.
We camp at Billowaggie, Well 43.
We travel on down to Well 41, which is surrounded by dead melaleucas, victims of the 2001 flooding.
It is then on down to Well 40. A kilometre or so behind the well is the grave of Michael Tobin, a member of Canning 1907 Survey Party who was speared by natives.
Explorers and drovers have carved their names in the rock here, and there are also some ancient Aboriginal scrapings. After lunch we travel to Well 37 the so-called 'Haunted Well'‚ due to several graves of drovers and prospectors speared or bludgeoned by Aboriginals.
We will hear the stories of the first contact, and the horrors of the subsequent Police Punitive Expeditions led by Sgt. Pilmer.
Beyond the haunted well we enter the area Canning called the Great Oak Forest and here, beneath whispering casuarinas we make our camp.
Many of the desert oaks have died here. We travel over high lateritic ground and ironstone plains to Kidson Bluff. Here we run down heavily corrugated sections of track to Well 35.
We will visit the remote Kunawarritji Aboriginal community store and refuel. There is a chance to shop in their small store and have a shower. We will drive on down to Well 30 and camp beneath impressive stands of Bloodwood trees.
A short climb to the summit is rewarded with excellent views of the surrounding country- right out to the west you can see Lake Auld, another vast salt lake.
Larry Wells named all the features in the area during the Calvert Expedition after members of John McDouall Stuarts party that first crossed the continent.
Well 29 is burnt out; nothing remains of well 28, and there is little left of 27 except some old rusted troughing and a couple of timbers. We camp in a magnificent natural amphitheatre in the Slate Range.
If you are very quiet and wander about the hills, you might spot some rock wallabies here.
Shortly the Canning joins the Talawana Track, which if followed 450 km. to the west, one would arrive at Newman. The Talawana Track was surveyed by Len Beadell and built by his Gunbarrel Road Construction Party as part of the network of roads that serviced the Woomera Range.
Using a hand pump we will refill our tanks with pure water from Georgia Bore and head to our camp on a sand hill beneath desert oaks with a spectacular view over Lake Disappointment.
We continue down to lunch in the dunes near the Tropic of Capricorn. In the afternoon we continue south to the Durba Hills. We track eastwards along the northern flanks of the range, past giant boulders that have fallen from the scarp.
Hidden along the range is Durba Springs- described by Dick Smith as one of the most beautiful places in Australia. The Drovers took advantage of its natural pound shape making it an ideal place to make a cattle camp. We camp on soft grass beneath river red gums.
At well 15 we replenish our water supply and travel through the Ward Hills to our camp in the Mulga beyond Lake Aerodrome.
Here the remains of a stone fort can be seen that was built by John Forrest in 1874 to protect his party against attack by Aboriginals. We continue south around McConkey Hill and travel down to Pierre Springs.
The well here has been reconditioned, and is surrounded by majestic river red gums. We encounter a magnificent stand of Grass Trees -Xanthorrhoea preissii -neither grass, nor trees, these magnificent plants are beautiful to look at. We continue on to camp in Mulga near Well 5.
During the gold rush, Wiluna had twelve taxis, five sporting ovals, three swimming pools, three soft drink factories and four pubs, but in 1947 the mine closed and the population dropped to around 1000. We'll use Wiluna to clean up, both the equipment and ourselves and restock for the next leg, the journey back across Australia either on the famous Gunbarrel Highway or the Great Central Road
(Please note that we will choose which route we take depending on local conditions at the time).
If the weather is dry (which it usually is) we take the Gunbarrel.
We then travel past Mt. Nossiter to our camp at Mungilli Claypan a RAMSAR listed ephemeral wetland in the Gibson Desert Nature Reserve.
The track is very rocky and rough as it turns southward toward Mt. Beadell. Here you can climb to the top which houses a memorial theodolite to Len Beadell. We continue on past Notabilis Hill to our camp near Mt. Samuel.
We pick up the Great Central Road at Steptoes Turnoff. From here we travel to Warburton to refuel. We travel north along the Great Central Road and camp on the Rebecca east of Giles Meteorological Station, in view of the Petermann Range.
Whilst the rock and the Olgas are spectacular, we are not accredited to tour the area and are only permitted to drive through. We refuel at Yulara before stopping for lunch en route to Curtain Springs and on to drop off late afternoon early evening at Alice Springs Hotels. *Those who wish can leave the expedition at Uluru to explore this area further. The airfares out of Yulara are similar price to Alice Springs.
Diamantina Touring CompanySince 1988 Diamantina have been running award winning nature based eco tours and expeditions into remote areas of outback Australia.
Our trips feature contemporary fresh Australian cuisine cooked over the open fire and fine Australian table wines.
Our tours visit some of the most spectacular and wild desert locations on the planet including the Canning Stock Route, The Gibson Desert, The Simpson Desert and the Great Sandy Desert.
Travel is in forward seating air conditioned desert equipped land cruisers. Diamantina is fully ATAP accredited and holds advanced eco accreditation.