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First Solo Walk of Australia's Canning Stock Route

The Canning Walker's Challenge for 2013

Gaynor Schoeman Canning Walker is on FacebookEnd of the CSR for Gaynor Schoeman Canning WalkerStarting from Billiluna in the north near Halls Creek on 31 May 2013, Gaynor Schoeman walked 1657km solo for 66 days, carrying a backpack of 30kg, finishing on the 05 August 2013 in the tiny outback goldfields town of Wiluna.

Gaynor was raising money for quadriplegic wheelchair rugby players under the banner Walk 4 Wheels and Walk 4 Wings in memory of hangglider pilot and friend, Bruce McClunan, who broke his neck on 1st April 2011.

Many class this walk as unsupported, done in the same way as the first successful walkers lead by Murray Rankin in 1976.
Timeline for Canning Stock Route Cyclists, Walkers and other Notables.

Whilst I did not walk with vehicle support, or with another person, without the help of Andy Sutcliffe in establishing my supply route before the walk, and my food sponsors, this walk would not have been possible.  For this reason I class my 2013 desert walk only as SOLO .... by my own standards. Media interviews - TV, Radio, Newspapers and Magazines.

To learn more about my book writing - Desert Diary to Book, Every Step of the Way.

The Tankwa Camino – Pilgrimage or Endurance event? Final article.

For those who want photographs, they are in the daily reports which can be accessed here.

The Tankwa Camino

'The desert is our troubled state. It is the dwelling place of our demons.' SEAN CAULFIELD, The God of Ordinary People

In 2013 I completed a 1657km solo walk through the deserts of Western Australia, without a support vehicle. Before training for that endurance event, I considered walking 7km to be a big effort. In May 2016 I took part in the Tankwa Camino, eager to experience the difference between backpacking alone in a desert for more than two months, and slackpacking with 59 other walkers and a dozen support crew for ten days; an event defined as pilgrimage by its title and endurance event by its description. So which is it?


2015 A Meeting of Camel and Woman

Bull camel arriving at Breaden Poola
I had come back from an afternoon walk to Godfrey’s Tank where I had seen the names of the Great’s on the eastern sandstone wall gallery above the pool, enjoying taking photographs in the warm afternoon light of the setting sun. It looked like it might rain as clouds were gathering quickly and so I erected a tarpaulin off the back of Les under which I could sleep in my cot bed and enjoy the show.

It was dusk when I heard the rush of a large animal behind me. I had seen the tracks of a single camel at Breaden Pool upon my arrival and knew that this was likely the same animal returning for a sundowner drink.

Instinctively, as I turned, I shouted sharply with great authority ‘HEY!’ and clapped my hands loudly, even before I saw the camel. He was in full charge, long legs high around his body, pounding down upon the earth, coming at me full on.


Fish River Canyon hike in Namibia - Story and Photo's

The Fish River Canyon, NamibiaFish River Canyon mapMy hikes are both learning tools and Soul restorers. By testing myself in nature, I learn more about who I am and what I am capable of,  soaking up the restorative energy that nature provides.

Having completed a 1657km solo hike through three of Australia's deserts the previous year, I was super keen to share that experience with other women.

There was just one problem: Me.


Richtersveld hike in South Africa - Story and Photos

Gaynor finding water at the base of a dry river bed in the RichtersveldIt was a 30km overnight hike in the Richtersveld Transfrontier Park from Paradysberg to Sendelingsdrif. Images included.

Three of us were driven up in a 4x4 by Nick de Goed, the Richtersveld SAN Parks Manager and dropped off in the mountains, prepared to walk around 30km over two days, up and down mountains and gorges, without food and with minimal equipment. My pack was the heaviest at 6kg, 4kg being liquid. The lightest load of 3.5kg was carried by the youngest in our little group, Anthony.

Anthony was a last minute inclusion, a 20 year old of frail build, going on his first overnight hiking adventure.

Our leader, 25 year old SAN Parks employee, Pieter Van Wyk, was suffering a stomach bug and exhaustion having just come off a two week canoe training stint on the Orange River.  I was concerned, but he said he would be ok.

Water was going to be our main concern on this hike. The Richtersveld is in sever drought, some areas only receiving 2mm of rain in five years.


The Canning Walker's Challenge for 2015

Les the Landy and Gaynor Schoeman the Canning Walker

3.5 months Bushtucker Adventure on the Canning Stock Route

Finding a suitable 4x4 for under $13 000 including Roadworthy and Registration whilst still in South Africa was not without difficulty, but I did get the right vehicle for me. An ex-Australian Army Land Rover named Les, as in Les Hiddens, The Bushtucker Man.

Next challenge was to equip Les with everything a woman might need for a solo remote desert crossing lasting last up to four months.

Vehicle preparations can be viewed here 4WD Gear and Sponsors 2015

Researching the availability of additional water sources and bush food was my focus in 2015. My goal was to determine whether I was capable of doing a future live-off-the-land traverse of the Canning Stock Route, WITHOUT resupply. This has never been done by a walker before.

My research entailed driving the full length of the Canning Stock Route from Wiluna to Halls Creek (about 3000km with side trips and backtracking) and with the aid of detailed maps both modern and old locating little known soaks and wells, visiting with Aboriginal Communities to learn about bushtucker, and putting my new found knowledge into daily practice. Then finishing with an easy drive back down the CSR with a passenger from Halls Creek to Wiluna (1850km) and finally Perth (1000km)

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