Eight years ago Marcel was raving about the Canning Stock Route (CSR) for the first time. Driving the CSR is one of his big dreams ever since. No wonder, the historic stock route is one of these Off-road adventures many 4×4 enthusiasts are dreaming about. Tomorrow we’re starting the 1’850 km through lonely deserts. Do you want to know how we prepare for our biggest and loneliest adventure of our lives?
The Canning Stock Route is a 1’850 km Outback track through the Gibson and the Great Sandy Desert. It’s a hell of a trip as the stock route has not been maintained since the 80s. There are no shopping opportunities along the track and fuel is available in one remote aboriginal community only. Therefore we need to be well prepared. In this blog post we tell you how to prepare for the Canning Stock Route adventure.
Driving the Canning Stock Route is one of Marcel’s big dreams. And for me? Well, I’m curious and very much looking forward to this adventure. But I also feel a bit uneasy. I’m nervous because we will be away from civilization for three weeks or more. It’s a rough trip through no-man’s land, through unforgiving country, through desert. That’s why I am super happy that we do the Canning Stock Route with friends from Switzerland.
A dream comes true
We love 4WD adventures, the Outback and driving off the beaten tracks. We are used to drive lonely roads through Australia’s Outback but driving the Canning Stock Route is different. It’s the first time that we drive such a lonely and long track. On the 1’850 km we will cross sand dunes, drive on corrugated tracks, come along wells and we’ll for sure see amazing starry skies. Sounds like a great adventure.
But, as mentioned before, the Canning Stock Route is one of the loneliest tracks in the world. If we have a breakdown, we need to be able to help ourselves as there are no mechanical services or any shopping opportunities along the route. We will be far away from everything and therefore we need to be self-sufficient. We need food and drinking water for at least three weeks, we need to have a reliable car and we need enough fuel. All that is part of the adventure.
How to prepare for the Canning Stock Route
First of all, we need two permits to drive the Canning Stock Route. We’ll drive through Aboriginal land and therefore we need to have valid permits. Luckily we can apply Online and as soon as the payment is done, we get the permit sent by email.
The most important thing before we drive the Canning Stock Route is a reliable 4WD vehicle, having enough food, water, fuel and good health.
This is how we prepare for the Canning Stock Route
- Our Toyota LandCruiser is in perfect condition for the Canning Stock Route. We recently did a service and we have new tires.
- We do a thorough vehicle check a couple of days before heading off. Spare parts, tools and recovery kit are ready in case we have a problem along the track or we need to help someone else.
- Our vehicle is converted to a camper and we are self-sufficient. We have a fridge, a gas stove (gas will last for the time of travel), cutlery and tools. Everything is ready to survive for 28 days.
- Solar panel for additional power to charge batteries and electronic devices
- We have a menu plan ready with three meals a day for 28 days (planned time of travel 21 days, additional 7 days in case of a breakdown).
- Preparation of a shopping list and research where we get food before starting our journey, especially fresh products.
- We plan to do the big shopping in a bigger city (Kununurra, Broome, Derby)
- We buy fresh products like veggies, fruits, meat and bread in the IGA in Fitzroy Crossing and/or IGA Express in Halls Creek. Limited choice.
- We make an inventory and list all food and drinks. That should help us to plan and adjust the menu plan if needed.
Water – Drinking water and water to wash dishes or shower
- Min. 2-3 liters drinking water per person per day (40-60 liter per person for 21 days) plus additional water for cooking and dishwashing (2-3 Liters per day).
- In Halls Creek we can fill up our 40 liter water tank and all containers. We can carry approx. 100 liters of drinking water.
- There are more than 50 wells along the Canning Stock Route. Some of which even have drinking water quality but it is always recommended to boil or filter the water before drinking.
- It’s a good idea to bring a water filter. With our small portable water filter we can produce our own drinking water.
- Diesel is the most critical point. We have a dual diesel tank and when both tanks are full (2×90 liters) we usually do 1‘500 km. If we have to drive with 4WD and low-range it reduces the range. Without extra diesel we can’t do the 1‘850 km long Canning Stock Route. Until a few years ago people had to order a 200 liter diesel barrel. Today, it is possible to get fuel at one of the Aboriginal communities. That makes life a lot easier.
- It’s important to calculate all side trips to historical sites to make sure that we’re not running out of fuel.
Communication in an emergency: Satellite telephone and UHF radio
- We do have an UHF radio which is very useful to contact oncoming traffic to avoid a collision on a sand dune.
- We do not have a satellite telephone but the second vehicle in our team has one.
- It’s wise to inform parents and/or friends about your travel plans. Tell them what to do in case you don’t contact them in a certain time frame.
- Recommended travel time is between May and September. Check before you start the trip if the track is open. It is not wise to travel outside the recommended time to travel as you can be hit by extreme heat or heavy rain. Parts of the track could be flooded and impassable even for 4×4 vehicles.
- Additional maps (e.g. HEMA Map) and GPS
- Find someone with whom you can do the Canning Stock Route. It’s safer to do the CSR with others and it’s more fun too.
- Medical kit and if you need some prescription medication make sure you have enough.
- Plenty of (e-)books
- A fridge is a must to take along fresh food like cheese, meat, fruits & veggies. Aaaaannnnd, an ice-cold beer after a strenuous driving day is heaven 😉
- Make sure you have a travel insurance that covers you on your adventure. Here is more information about our experience with World Nomads travel insurance.
What to do in case of a breakdown?
Rule number 1 if you can’t help yourself: Stay with the vehicle. If you are out in the bush it is much easier to spot a car than a person. The car offers some shade. Don’t try to walk and search for help. The distances are extreme and you will not be able to carry enough water. Don’t underestimate the heat during the day in the desert and the cold in the night.
Even if the Canning Stock Route is known as the loneliest track in the world, during high season there are for sure other 4×4 enthusiasts on the Canning too. In case of a breakdown or problem people in the bush help each other. But nevertheless, at the end you are self-dependent. Make sure you are well prepared because help is far away. There is no doctor or hospital nearby.
If you are planning to do the Canning Stock Route, also check the website of exploreoz.com.au and hemamaps.com for more information. You also get a great and helpful brochure (PDF) with tips and detailed information on how to prepare for the Canning Stock Route.
Are you ready to drive the Canning Stock Route? We are. One of our biggest adventure is starting now.
Byebye, we’re offline for a while
It is going to be quiet on the blog for a few weeks. We’ll tell you all about our big adventure once we are back in civilization. Do you wonder how we manage the trip on the Canning Stock Route? How it is to be Offline for three or four weeks? How it feels not to have access to Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, the internet & Co.? Stay tuned and check swissnomads.com again.
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What are you interested in? Any questions about our offroad adventure? Do you have additional tips on how to prepare for the Canning Stock Route?