Canning Stock Route, 2020


  • 61cm x 61cm
  • 2020
  • Acrylic On Canvas
  • Catalog No: 2252-20-652

“Canning Stock Route that road, Highway.” – Ngamaru Bidu
The construction of the ‘Canning Stock Route’ cattle droving route in 1910 was hugely significant not only for the route’s extraordinary length of 1850km, but also in that it resulted in first contact with Europeans for many Martu (Aboriginal person/ people) still living a nomadic life in the desert at this time. This occurred because the route exploited many of the life sustaining water sources that ran its length with their conversion into 48 wells. Until that time, and for countless generations, the water bodies had been used exclusively by pujimanpa (desert dwelling, nomadic Aboriginals). In the construction of the route many Martu were cruelly coerced by Alfred Canning and his team into revealing the location of these traditional waters.
Following the Route’s completion, contact between desert dwelling pujimanpa and European and Martu drovers became increasingly common. This, in combination with an extreme and prolonged drought in the 1960s facilitated the eventual movement of the last remaining pujimanpa from the desert to several newly established ration depots and mission stations in the area surrounding the track. Of course, this dramatic transition irreversibly altered the lives of Western Desert people by disrupting centuries of family connection, custom, and movement.
This work explores the ecological nature, history, and social impact of a specific area of the Canning Stock Route that was traversed by the artist and their family during the pujiman (desert dwelling, nomadic) era.