Website updates are ongoing. Please feel welcome to contact me should there be any information requiring correction or rewording.
My passion for Canning Stock Route history, particularly foot powered traverses started in 2009 whilst hitchhiking the Tanami Track from Hall Creek to Alice Springs. I spent just one night in Billiluna and that is all it took. I was hooked. Since then I have hitchhiked the CSR twice, once with multiple lifts and once in a sedan (non 4x4 vehicle), driven it in a 4WD as a passenger and I have walked it solo with the aid of supply drops, without a support vehicle.
My continued interest is in one day achieving an unsupported traverse between Billiluna to Wiluna, living off the land. All facts suggest that this is impossible at the moment, but one day I believe it will be possible. And so I keep looking....researching and sharing my information with you, so that even if I cannot do it, maybe you can.
According to historians Ronel and Eric Gard, the first cyclists to traverse the Great and Little Sandy Deserts were gold prospectors back in 1913 who pushed their bicycles across the desert on their way to the Tanami goldfields. In 1913 the CSR had only been open for three years. The wells were in good order, providing water roughly every 25km to the intrepid gold seekers. They would still have had to carry all their own camping equipment, food, and daily water and there was no obvious track to follow.
Today, other than 4WD enthusiasts, it is only the cyclist who has managed to conquer the Canning Stock Route completely unsupported. The reason for the difficulty is that of the 51 Wells, only 10 have survived the ravages of time, leaving gaps of up to 200+ kilometres along the 1650-1850km traverse without fresh water. The track is a mixutre of churned up sand, rock and bone shaking corrugations, the vegetation such that even the Aborigine nolonger survive off the land, the last of the nomads coming out of the desert in the mid 1970's. And so it is that without vehicle safety back up or the luxury of supply drops, a peculiar breed of cyclist took up the challenge. These Canning Stock Route completely unsupported cyclists are rare, but there is more than one and it has been done on more than one occasion.
Summary of CSR cycle events from 1996 to Today
Recently I was asked about water availability and quality on the Canning Stock Route for a traverse planned for 2015.
Here is my 2013 Water Report with references to 2010 and 2011 and 2005. This is from the perspective of a person walking or cycling the Canning Stock Route.
ExplorOz Trek Notes on The Canning Stock Route.
ExplorOz Trek Notes regarding distances between wells and other places of interest.
ExplorOz Notes regarding information on each well, including photographs and water drinkability.
Below is a list of wells I found to have drinking water in 2013. Note that heavy rain changes everything, so you need to be prepared to treat and drink water found in flooded wells, pans etc. Animals dying in wells is always a possibility. I recommend Aqua Salveo as an effective, odourless, tasteless and safe water treatment. It is what I used for two months in 2013.
Distances between water points are included, measured on my supply run from Wiluna to Billiluna before the walk. These distances are pretty accurate. You can cross reference them with the distances on ExplorOz to be sure. The big distances (over 100km) between water points are :Read more...
Starting from Billiluna in the north near Halls Creek on 31 May 2013, Gaynor Schoeman walked solo for 66 days, carrying a backpack of 30kg, finishing 1657km later in the tiny outback goldfields town of Wiluna on 05 August 2013.
Gaynor was raising money for quadrepligics 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 succussful unsupported walkers lead by Murray Rankin in 1976. I, however, do not. Whilst I did not travel with a vehicle support, or walk 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.
Click on the media logos for reports.
UPDATED 2014-08-28 A six page article in Western 4Wheel Driver, an Australian 4x4 magazine - Spring 2014 edition Nbr 92. Once the magazine is in circulation for awhile, I will post the pdf.
Thank you for reading the first pages of my Desert Diary. Prompted by readers interest, I am in the process of writing a book about what it takes for a woman to walk across a desert alone, the realities and the 'why' of it, something so many people ask me.
Solo desert walking is not for the faint hearted. The walk forever changed me, the raw feeling of isolation and loneliness shattering my 'I am an island' world, prompting me to seek connection in a way I have not done before. It has not been an easy, but if I was looking for easy I would sit down in front of a television and surrender my mind.
This will be my first attempt at publishing a book. There is only one way I can write and that is from the heart. It is not in my nature to provide a glossed over recreation of how I would like things to have been. There is no learning, no discovery in that. My life is about discovery and about transformation.