Here is a route that is on my list of 4 wheel drive adventures I want to complete before I die:
AUSTRALIA’S ICONIC CANNING STOCK Route, created in 1906, runs for 1800 km through WA from the Kimberley to Wiluna in the state’s mid-west. The history of this famous cattle track has typically been told from a colonial perspective, but a new exhibition at the National Museum of Australia seeks to retell the story through Aboriginal eyes and voices.
“The Canning Stock Route (CSR) is a place where Indigenous and non-Indigenous histories intersect. This exhibition tells the story of the recovery of the Indigenous histories,” says Michael Pickering, head of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Program at the museum. “For many years the story of the stock route was represented as a white man’s story. This exhibition, and the collection that forms its heart, allows us to recognise that its history goes back much further and is held in the hearts and minds of the Aboriginal people of the region.”
Alongside stories and objects, the exhibition – called Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route – features paintings by traditional owners of the land which combine both traditional and contemporary styles of art. These paintings reflect the stories that Aboriginal elders have passed on of their experiences as stockmen and other interactions with ‘white fellas’ during the early days of the stock route, while others are interpretations by younger artists.
World’s longest stock route
Surveyor Alfred Canning led an expedition which created the route in 1906, with the ultimate goal of driving cattle from Halls Creek, in the Kimberley, to market in the Kalgoorlie goldfields. It is the longest stock route in the world and runs though the Little Sandy, Gibson, Great Sandy and Tanami deserts, passing 52 wells bored by Canning’s team. (See a map of the CSR)
Earlier expeditions to survey the CSR had failed, but Canning set off with a team of seven men, 23 camels, two ponies, 2.5 tonnes of provisions and 1440 litres of water. All up, they trekked 4000 kilometres over 14 months. Stock routes were created as defined paths along which cattle were driven from pastoral land to markets. They allowed access to waters and grasslands to keep the animals fed.
“There is history – an indigenous history – and it needs to be told in an Indigenous way so that the wider audience can feel both worlds,” says 33-year old co-curator of the exhibition Murungkurr Terry Murray. Terry says that some local Aboriginal people volunteered their assistance to Canning’s team to help them locate waterholes and were later employed as stockmen. Others were captured and put in neck chains and force-fed salt beef or saltwater until they became so thirsty that they had no choice but to lead the team to water.
Some of the elders remember the first European contact they had as children in the desert. Terry tells how people couldn’t believe their eyes and they ran to hide when they first saw white people, thinking they had seen a ghost. [Australian Geographic]
You can read the rest at the link.