A Personal Account

The Canning Stock Route

Extract from Kate Leeming’s CSR recollections

It was hopeless. Her arms and legs were numb with the constant strain and she was getting nowhere. With the blazing sun beating down on her, each sand dune loomed like Mt Everest, taunting her, daring her to take them on. Exhausted, she was cracking under the pressure.
Stuck in the middle of the Canning Stock Route, an 1900km series of rough tracks joining wells through unforgiving desert between Wiluna and Halls Creek, Kate Leeming was beginning to wonder what the hell she had been thinking. “The severity of the conditions, combined with my exhausted state, led me to lose control of my emotions,” she recalls. “As I trudged up the dunes, thoroughly feeling ground down, tears started to flow, like the summer storm I had endured three days earlier. A few sporadic drops evolved into a torrential downpour. The hot, dry sands instantaneously absorbed my salty trail, as if the desert refused to tolerate such a show of weakness, fragility, and vulnerability. Giving way completely, I sat down as if on strike.” Kate had to dig deep, remind herself what she was trying to achieve by riding a bike through some of Australia’s most inhospitable territory.
The 40-year-old had put so much thought and planning into her 25,000km journey, driven by her desire to raise awareness about the importance of sustainability, she just couldn’t give up now.
“The Canning Stock Route was the most important part of the expedition, and I always knew it was going to test my limits,” she writes in Out There and Back, her recently published book.

“I had never given up on anything before and I reminded myself of how much I would regret throwing in the towel… Psyching myself into a fixated, almost robotic, state, I took several deep breaths and pushed off again… I set very short-term goals, such as reaching a small bush or a desert oak beside the track 20 or 50 metres ahead, then gradually raised my sights to reach the next sand ridge.”
“I made a conscious effort to look for the beauty in my surroundings and appreciate that few people ever create such opportunities”.

Kate Leeming