Canning Stock Route
Three men, including Courtney Ellis (a director of Outback Spirit) recently set out from Broome in a Toyota Landcruiser and 4x4 Mercedes Benz supply truck in an attempt to travel the full length of the now 100 year old stock route. The supply list, endless to say the least, included 2,200 litres of diesel, 2,000 litres of water, 6 fridges full of supplies, 6 spare tyres, a full tool kit, camping equipment, jet fuel and various recovery equipment. The Mercedes Benz tray truck is the same chassis used for our touring coaches, therefore providing a good guage on how such a unit would perform along the track.
The first day from Broome to Bililuna was uneventful and straight forward, as expected. However, shortly after leaving Bililuna and beginning the northern section of the track, things became quite difficult. For a normal width vehicle like a Toyota Landcruiser the track wasn’t an issue. However, after 100kms or so it became apparant that the track was too narrow for the truck. As you can see from the image, the truck sat outside the wheel ruts making it difficult and slow going.
After 3 days out on the Canning we decided the going was too slow and tough. We therefore returned to Broome, and indeed the drawing board. The trusty Axor unit, the back bone of our 4x4 coach fleet, would be unsuitable for the 2,000kms of track between Bililuna and Wiluna. We are now assessing a number of other vehicles, including the Mercedes Benz Unimog, for the task. The Unimog features exceptional 4WD characteristics and is a foot narrower than the Axor 4WD unit.
Calculations are now been crunched to see whether or not enough water, fuel and general gear can be carried by the Unimog, and we are planning our second test at the beginning of the 2013 dry season. If everything goes to plan, we will order the two new units from Mercedes Benz immediately. Once delivered they’ll be sent straight to Coach Design in Brisbane for their associated coach bodies to be fitted. One unit will carry approximately 20 passengers, while the second unit will be fitted with a coolroom, kitchen, showers and toilets.
We had hoped to release one or two expeditions in 2013, however at this stage the program will commence at the beginning of the 2014 dry season. The response from our interest register has been enormous, and we sincerely thank those who have expressed interest and in turn, helped us to gauge the viability of the program.