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Sunday, 16 Aug 2009

Beanie Bunch conclude Canning Stock Route Adventure via haunted well and 17m dunes at 24kph average

Manual low range first. The 2000 Hi Lux does it easy.
Manual low range first. The
2000 Hi Lux does it easy.

Day 14 Cold and windy again last night and as we pass Well 34. Well 35 has been restored with a 120mm bore casing with a cap. This was a very dusty area with the dense undergrowth and bull dust.

There has been really bad corrugations but we are now back into the dune country and native Casuana trees. We are looking for a native well 19kms out, but cannot find so we move onto Well 36. 

There are lots of Zebra finches and some budgies here. Abandoned camel water tanks are seen at Well 36 and Well 39. They were made by Wally Dowling, a drover of the 40’s and 50’s from 200 litre drum halves with steel bars welded to their sides.

A tank was slung each side of a camel.
Stockman Michael Tobins grave
Stockman Michael Tobins grave

Lunch was near Well 37 the site of four graves. It is known as the haunted well because drovers George Shoesmith, James Thompson and aboriginal stockman Chinaman were speared by natives here and died in 1911. Nearby is another grave, that of prospector Jock McLennan who was clubbed to death by aborigines in 1922.

Each night by camp fire we listened to mystery and murder stories from our reference book by Eric and Ronelle Garde.

This area contains the highest dunes, with the largest being measured at nearly 17 meters.

Well 38, the Rock Pools is dry. We lined up four Beanie Bunch vehicles for a photo shoot and camped a few kms up. Again the wind came up but this time at 2am. We may as well arisen then rather than waiting for daylight. There was much spinnifex caught up under the Rodeo, the lowest vehicle of the four. This is a fire risk and was removed.

Day 15 we passed Well 39 located near the edge of Lake Tobin which has now been dry for many years. The dry lake bed was solid, smooth and we finally had the opportunity to engage 5th gear and reach a top speed of 70 kmph, the first time for two weeks!

It’s still very windy and we are entering termite mound country again. We detour to visit the site of Michael Tobin’s grave, situated on a hill, a member of Canning’s 1906 – 07 expedition. He was speared by natives in April 1907 near Well 40. It is a picturesque grave site with the Lake in background. The grave features a metal gravestone and white quartz rock under a shady tree. It is listed as Australia’s most remote grave site.

We travel on to Well 41 which has been recently restored. The water is OK for drinking (they say) but contains a lot of tannins and is dark coloured.

We will use it for washing as our supplies were getting low. We pumped the jerry cans full using the portable shower pack with the shower head removed.

Camping tonight between 41 and Well 42 after 133 kms about 25 degrees.

There is a plaque located on top of a sand dune between Well 39 and Well 40 on an official trig point tower which says – Neil Barker Christchurch 26th July 2007 broke an ankle 6pm on this spot.

Gallant rescuers Dave and Margaret and Max and Sara of Perth drove two hours in the dark to help in true Anzac spirit. Thanks to VKS737 for their radio support. Many thanks to Neil and Sara who drove three days to Port Hedland for treatment.

The Plaque was placed here on 26th July 2009.
Spinnifex fire risk collects underneath the Rodeo
Spinnifex fire risk collects underneath the Rodeo

Day 16. Windy again today with an 8.45am departure for Well 42 Guli Tank, the shallowest in 1.7 m of limestone.

There was a recently discarded vehicle water tank here now being used as a visitors board and is now home to the Beanie bunch’s autograph and official placement of GoSeeAustralia’s most remote decal.

We travelled 141 kms today to find a nice camp spot ready for Bert’s surprise birthday party, in the middle of the desert, there was the cake, chocolate, streamers, bon bons and even a couple of unbroken candles.

We partied hard tonight and Adventure B4 Dementure group were also partying nearby.

Day 17 by-passing Well 43, 44 and 45 off the track on to Well 47 which is in ruins as is 48. We are in the Breaden Hills and travelled off the track to Breaden Pool and Godfrey’s tank, named by Canning after Godfrey Massie.

This large natural rock hole above Breaden valley was dry when visited by Canning.

The rock face bears the initials of many early explorers and drovers. We could clearly photograph H S Trotman’s name in the far wall along with many others. Well 51, WERIADDO, is the northernmost well constructed by Canning.

But it was Hubert Trotman, Canning's deputy, who built it. Canning had gone on to Halls Creek to replenish supplies.

North of this well the drovers could follow the pools in Stuart and Cow Creeks. But most of the cattle that went down the Canning Stock Route came from Billiluna station.

H.S.Trotman 1874 to 1965 is said to have made five surveying expeditions to the Canning Stock Route. Eleanor Smith worked with Trotman to write her book "The Beckoning West" on his experiences on the Canning Stock Route. 

She compiled a record  of Trotman's experiences in the  most remote part of Australia by listening to Trotman's accounts and carefully recording all she was told. The book is available in the National Library of Australia collection Bib ID 38744. It is a collectors item and is also available through online shopping cart sites at around $A110.

Well 49 is the site of Jack Smith’s grave a stockman, who died in his swag in 1939. This well also contains good water but is generally 15m deep to obtain water.

Camped in a great sheltered Sheoak grove tonight and after dinner, we had a movie screening in our open air cinema next to our camp fire featuring “Australia” starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Interval was called about an hour and a half later when the computer went flat. To be continued tomorrow night.
Wolfe Creek
Wolfe Creek

Day 18 departed camp at 7.45 am with a good run into Billiluna Aboriginal Community where the Canning Stock Route officially ends at the junction with Tanami track running from Halls Creek to Alice springs.

After a quick look around the community, we proceeded onto Wolfe Creek Meteorite Crater turnoff where we pitched camp 23 kms further on at the crater camp ground. Wolfe Creek Crater is the world’s second largest crater of its kind more than 300,000 years old it is almost 1 km across and 50m deep.

First recognised in June 1947 it is now a National Park. We finished our second screening of Australia movie tonight.

The crater contained more dense undergrowth with many wildflowers than when GoSee staff visited 22 years ago.

Day 19 was a supposed easy 154 kms via the Tanami into Halls Creek, however 3kms from the end of the Wolfe Creek road, the Rodeo developed a loud thump in the front end. We pulled over. It had spat a shocker- a new Pedders Track Ryder 4x4 shocker fitted specially for the trip.

Apparently the top retainer nut had worked loose with the corrugations allowing it to drop down bending the shaft. We removed it and limped the last 134 kms of gravel road into Halls Creek at 60 kmph. The last of our fruit and vegies were surrendered at a surprise quarantine area 19kms from Halls Creek at the junction of the Broome Highway, a welcome site – bitumen!
Lowering of the Swan Hill Riverside Caravan Park sponsored sand flags
Lowering of the Swan Hill Riverside Caravan Park sponsored sand flags

We stayed at Halls Creek Caravan Park for a couple days to wash and re-organize the vehicles.

There were no problems and after a quick call to Pedders in Geelong, Scott kindly arranged a replacement shocker to be flown into Broome to be fitted by Pedders Broome agent as a warranty claim.

This meant limping the vehicle 700km into Broome under 80 kph. The shocker arrived before we did and was fitted in one hour.

A suspension check which is always conducted in the case of a Pedders warranty claim revealed no other problems. We were normal again and this was really the only casualty of the trip happening after the end of the Canning.

The SR5 Toyota was the Beanie Bunch’s only vehicle fitted with a trip computer. This revealed our average speed for the Canning to be 24 kph Wiluna to Halls Creek.

Over the whole trip this varied from 19 kph to stages at 25 kph.In summary we all took too much food with us and had accurately calculated our fuel and water requirements.
Defender Waeco fridge
Defender Waeco fridge

The fridges operated on freeze-cool cycles well and frozen foods packaged by the butcher in Kalgoorlie were still in top condition.

It was agreed the most handy items packed for the trip were our small folding step (about $12), which could also be utilized to stand our wine glasses for happy hour or a coffee table, but there were no latte’s out there.

Another was a small blue LED light torch (about $10 each) and a flexible plastic bucket which could be used to lower down wells for water, or as a washing basket and as well as somewhere to wash your feet at the end of a hard day.

Each of our group were happy with our OzTents. Taking 30 second to erect and pull down they proved weather proof, wind proof and vermin proof.

They are comfortable and with extra sides and front panel being available prove to be versatile to suit all weather extremes and prevailing conditions. Our group mainly used a Wild Country self inflating matress (4WD Mat) which proved comfortable and easy to use on a daily basis.

They roll up to a suitable size to transport and can be kept dust free if kept in a large garbage bag.

Once again, the OzPig proved popular with cooking and heating in places where wood was scarce.

It is fuel efficient and packs up easily in its box along with utensils and other camp fire requirements.
Holden Rodeo fuel storage
Holden Rodeo fuel storage

Our group also used a Biji Barbi designed by Tony Upton

It is rugged, innovative and practical as well as being compact, versatile – solid fuel or gas, strong steel and energy efficient. 

We preferred cooking our evening chops, snags or chicken in the biji over hot coals while our potatoes cooked underneath wrapped in foil. Other standard LPG cookers were also used by all the Beanie Bunch.

The vehicles used the following tyres and carried two full spare wheels each without any punctures.

SR5 Coopers Discoverer ST 31x10.5 R15LT

2000 HiLux BF Goodrich All Terrain 30x9.50 R15LT

Defender Coopers Discoverer ST 235/85 R16LT (large chunks of rubber are peeling from the rear tyres)

Rodeo Nangtang Sportrek 245/70 R16 (available from The Tyre Factory outlets)

Happy travelling from the Beanie Bunch and thanks to ContACT Internet Solutions in Canberra for our IT requirements.

After leaving Halls Creek, Alan and Pam travelled to Broome to have a new shocker fitted. 

Editors Note: Which is the  northern end  of another great Western Australian touring experience the Warlu Way - 

Warlu Way links sea, land, culture in journey into Western Australian Dreamtime

They spent four days there sight-seeing as well and then travelled to Derby and the Gibb River road. On Friday night they visited Home Valley Station and El Questro on Saturday.

On Thursday they accidentally met up with Phil and Barb travelling the other way on the Gibb River Road to Broome to stay with their son Tom for a few days. They have been to the Bungle Bungles.

On Friday Pam and Alan accidentally met up with Bert and Shirl who had been to Mitchell Falls and Drysdale River Station and they were heading to Kununnurra to meet Sue and Geoff, so we have pretty well all had another catch up a week later.

Hope you have all enjoyed the adventure. Now it’s time to have a holiday.
Geoff had an electric fuel pump
Geoff had an electric fuel pump

We are perched atop of a mountain range at Home Valley station (Australia movie location) about 100km from Kununnurra receiving mobile connection to transmit this email.

Our pictures include vehicle set up evaluation.

The Defender was fitted out with a set of sliding drawers professionally built by Bert (A CABINET MAKER). They performed faultlessly. 

12 jerry cans of diesel plus four of water were located behind the drawers in the centre of the vehicle with access from drivers side lift up door. 

Other storage was in bins above and as you can see spare wheels were mounted on the rear of vehicles unfortunately adding too much weight to the rear. It would have been wiser in hindsight to fit one spare to the bonnet and the other on the roof.

The Waeco fridge works well fitted behind the front seat along with other personal effects.

The Rodeo Engel fridge was also fitted behind the passenger seat along with food bins, bedding and clothing bags. Five jerry cans of diesel were located under a fold-up shelf in the rear along with 100 litres of water, 2nd spare wheel, OzPig, LPG cylinder for cooking, chairs, BBQ, tools and misc. items.

The roof rack carried OzTent, mattress, poles and shade cloth for under tent protection.

2000 Hi Lux had a very similar setup utilizing storage bins and jerry cans although Geoff used an electric pump for refuelling his vehicle whereas the other three vehicles poured jerry cans into vehicles with spouts.

Travellers preparing long distance travel using jerry cans should note to make sure all of their cans have the same size openings and that any electric pumps actually fit into the cans to pump out the fuel.

Geoffs pump was not compatible with cans used by others in the Beanie Bunch.

The HiLux was also fitted with a 100 litre water tank in the cabin under the rear window.

This worked well, however was a bit fiddly to refill via funnels and in hindsight, is OK providing you have constant quality drinking water, your main supplies are not polluted with any refill water that may only be suitable for washing.
Drawers slide out on Defender
Drawers slide out on Defender

It is recommended that drinking water jerry cans be used along with a series of washing water jerry cans, plus smaller can or bucket for access.

2009 SR5 Toyota HiLux was fitted with a long range fuel tank which is an ideal feature along with jerry cans for water and foil water bladders which did not stand up to the rough terrain.

Everything we used in casks, with foil bladder leaked including white wine, red wine, cooking oil and water.

The ARB roof rack contained a custom built zip up bag to hold spare wheel, chairs, bedding and OzTent.This worked well although by the end of the trip the retaining straps had broken free and it required rope ties to hold in place.

The SR5 was custom fitted to carry all equipment and worked well.

The DPChip fitted to the GoSee Holden Rodeo gave excellent reliable service.

Fuel saving was great and power on the dunes came in from 1500 revs upwards, with real torque benefits.

Pam and Alan also flew over Cape Levique on a half day trip to the Archipelago and Horizontal Falls with

For more specific information about the beanie Bunch adventure please contact:

Alan on

Editors Note: Follow the Beanie Bunch adventures from Victoria, into South Australia and Western Australia by clicking the story links at the end of each free GoSee Information Article -

Gritty Beanie Bunch handle sand, wind, dunes and low gear grind through Canning Stock Route limestone country

In a slight change of plans (1100km) GoSee Rodeo heads back to the gravel on the Tanami Track to Alice Spring Here are related  GoSee Great drive features and information on the Wet Season from the free GoSee library of more than 500 information articles:


GoSeeAustralia's Great Drives of Australia - Savannah Way

Glenda raises Wet Season the Big tropic topic

GoSeeAustralias Great Drives of Australia 'Once around The Block please'

For more information
contact: Garth Morrison
Editor Go See Australia and Go See New Zealand Directory
Broken ankle memorial plaque
Broken ankle memorial plaque
Defender in dry territory
Defender in dry territory
DP chip has been there too in the GoSee Rodeo
DP chip has been there too in the GoSee Rodeo
GoSee Holden Rodeo  has  least ground clearance
GoSee Holden Rodeo has least ground clearance
GoSee mobile office near Broome
GoSee mobile office near Broome
H.S. Trotman  1906 engraving at GodfreyTank
H.S. Trotman 1906 engraving at GodfreyTank
Passing trade Canning Stock Route
Passing trade Canning Stock Route
Reversing lights mean trouble
Reversing lights mean trouble
Rodeo Engel fridge with two-zone extension
Rodeo Engel fridge with two-zone extension
SR5 ready for the camp fire
SR5 ready for the camp fire
The Beanie Bunch Wolfe Creek
The Beanie Bunch Wolfe Creek
The top retaining nut worked loose on Pedders Trak Ryder shocker
The top retaining nut worked loose on Pedders Trak Ryder shocker
Track marker Canning Stock Route
Track marker Canning Stock Route
Well 41
Well 41

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