Overlanding Down Under
Overlanding Down Under
Overland expert Andrew St. Pierre White recently conquered the Canning Stock Route in Western Australia: the longest historic stock route in the world. Totaling 1,150 miles, St. Pierre White traveled in a four-person, two-car group—and we sat down with him to get the details of this bucket-list-worthy expedition.
Can you describe the route for us?
The Canning Stock Route is probably the longest remote public track in the world. When I say remote, I mean 600 miles without a single fence, dwelling, power line or road. Just a two-line track through the wilderness. The trail is 1,150 miles long and crosses only one road at a tiny village—where until last year, there wasn’t even a fuel depot.
It's two weeks of deep Australian bush travel. It's the real deal. That trail is notorious for ripping shock absorbers from their mountings and tearing spare wheel carriers from the back of vehicles.
How did you prepare for the trip?
Prep was extremely thorough. We had to carry a satellite phone in case of emergency since the only quick way out would be long-range helicopter. We also carried an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB).
Our truck was a new build and we spent sleepless nights perfecting it for the task. We conceived it a few years ago and finally built it over the course of four months before the trip. This was its first outback outing and it performed even better than expected. It was such a thrill to drive my brand-new truck for my first Australian overland expedition.
What were some unique challenges specific to this expedition?
The sheer remoteness—you have to experience it to believe it. We covered an average of 50 miles over eight hours of driving each day. Severe washboards were quite common, and some of the worst I’ve ever encountered. They can shake the truck to pieces if the tire pressure is too high. Sometimes they feel like hammer blows to the chassis. You have to make the tires act as additional shock absorbers by letting 80 percent of the air out—more than you’d normally feel comfortable doing. We carried two spare tires but didn’t end up needing them.
There were also more than 1,000 sand dunes to cross throughout the route. Day after day, they appear right in front of the windshield—one after the other—in a seemingly unending line. Many of them were a technical driving challenge, too.
What was one of your most memorable moments of the journey?
It was midnight and I was sitting right under the Milky Way in Horse-Show Canyon listening to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. You could see stars stretched from one horizon to the other.
How does it feel crossing this trip off your bucket list trip?
I didn’t cross it off my bucket list. It’s still on my list because I want to do it again—only next time, solo.