Canning Stock Route – 4×4 adventure

Planning, preparation and permits – 3 essential things to do before you depart

The Canning Stock Route is the ultimate destination for the 4×4 traveller. Stretching for 1700 kilometres between Wiluna in central Western Australia to Halls Creek in the Kimberley, the stock route crosses three deserts – the Gibson, Great Sandy and Tanami deserts.

All travellers need to be self-reliant and self-sufficient, carrying fuel, food and water requirements in their vehicles as resources are few and far between.

Although water is available at several restored wells, this water may only be suitable for washing and not drinking. Fuel is available at a couple of settlements, as are limited food supplies.

There are three essential considerations for a safe and happy trip on the Canning Stock Route. These are planning, preparation and permits.


The journey along the Canning Stock Route should take about 15 days comfortably. It can be done quicker than that, or longer than 15 days. Why would you rush and try to do it in less than 15 days? Take your time and enjoy the magnificent scenery and the desert experience.

There are two main settlements along the stock route, one is at Kunarwarritji, only a couple of kilometres from the track near Well 33. Kunarwarritji has fuel available on most days (Sundays by appointment) and a goodly range of supermarket goodies.

Parrngurr is the other settlement, it does have fuel and a small store with limited supplies. Parrngurr is over 100 kilometres from the stock route on the Talawana Track from Georgia Bore, but the community does welcome travellers. There are no other settlements along the stock route.

Kunarwarritji is in the northern part of the Canning Stock Route, approximately 615 kilometres from Billiluna. If you choose to only fill up at Kunarwarritji you need to be able to carry sufficient to cover 1000 kilometres for the distance to or from Wiluna.

Canning Stock Route Well 26

Water from restored Well 26 on the Canning Stock Route

Also sufficient food for 15 days plus a couple of days in reserve in case of an unexpected holdup. Some of the water in the restored wells is drinkable – some is not – but it should all be boiled before drinking. The well water is safe for washing, but it is wise to carry drinking water and 80 litres is a good estimate for two people.


Now you have to work out how you will carry enough fuel for 1000 kilometres, food for 15 days and 80 litres of water and where you will fit it into your vehicle. In our case, John built a shelf and draw system for the back of our 4wd. The food fits into the draws and fridge, 80 litres of water sits under the shelf in 4 jerry cans, clothing and other bags on top of the shelf and the roof rack carries all the camping gear – simple! … well maybe not.

Canning Stock Route campsite

Another fine campsite on the Canning Stock Route

For our first Canning trip, we travelled with two of our sons. We allowed ourselves to take only one bag each for clothes. John built an extra box to sit on top of the shelf. In this box was a lot of extra food we needed for 15 days of unassisted travel. In this box we carried many of the items that we would need for the second week, biscuits, cereal etc, and fruit and vegetables, e.g. potatoes, carrots and apples. But during the day when we were on the move, there was no access to this box.

This system did work very well for us as long as we prepared ourselves in the morning for what we would need during the day. If we forgot, then we had to do without for that day!

And don’t forget the vehicle itself. You must give it a thorough going over before heading off to the Canning Stock Route. Check all belts, batteries etc, but especially check the shock absorbers. Unfortunately any straight section of track on the Canning is now badly corrugated due to the amount of traffic there. It’s a good idea to carry some basic spare parts, such as belts.

Canning Stock Route Well 33

Changing a flat tyre at Well 33 on the Canning Stock Route

Tyres are another item for a good checkout. Take the tyre repair kit for the easy repair job and carry two spare wheels for when a puncture repair is not possible.


This is the final part of the planning for the Canning Stock Route trip. The Canning passes through native title land and permits to travel through are required. The system is complicated, but the process is quick and easy over the internet. Two permits are required – one for access to Wells 5-15 and 40-51 from – and the other for Wells 16-39 from A comprehensive information pack is available with the permit from the former.

Now after all this planning, preparation and permits, you are ready to set off on what will be one of the greatest travel adventures in Australia. Have fun and enjoy it all!

You can get a good idea of what the trip is like in our DVD Canning Stock Route.

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