Alfred Wernam CanningPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Suzie Canning

The plaque on the grave, placed by members of the Western Australian Division of the Institution of Surveyors, commemorates Alfred Wernam Canning, the surveyor of the Canning Stock Route who died in 1936.

A. W. Canning is most widely known for his work in establishing the Canning Stock Route. His work in surveying the 1150 mile line of the No 1 rabbit proof fence is less well known and very little has been written about it. About the turn of the century, rabbits from the east were beginning to invade Western Australia and Canning was instructed to survey a route for a rabbit-proof fence. Construction of the fence, known as the No. 1 Rabbit Proof Fence, was completed in 1907.  Even though 'the fence' was technically a more challenging project, Canning is best known for surveying the Canning Stock Route in 1906-07.

In 1906, the Western Australian Government appointed surveyor Alfred Canning to survey an overland stock route from Halls Creek in the Kimberley to the rail head at Wiluna to bring cattle to growing markets in the south west of the State. The goldrush and expansion of the colony had created a demand for meat that could not be met from the south. Cattle from Kimberley pastoral regions were being transported south via an arduous sea journey. This was followed by a long trek inland to the goldfields by which time the cattle had lost considerable condition and market appeal. After establishing the feasibility of an inland stock route, Canning was then instructed to equip 51 watering points along the route. This task was completed in 1910 and the droving of cattle southward began.


Address:Railway Road, Anglican ZB 548, Karrakatta Cemetery, Karrakatta, 6010
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -31.972761
Long: 115.798291
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Government - State


Front Inscription


Alfred Wernum Canning

Remembered by his kindred professionals for his outstanding contribution to the state of Western Australia through his extensive surveys in the remote interior, the Gascoyne and Murchison regions between 1900 and 1930.

His excellent leadership and organising abilities and his expertise in bush survival meant that the challenging tasks of surveying the route for the No. 1 Vermin Fence (1900 km) from near Esperance to the Port Hedland coast and the location of a viable stock route from the Kimberleys to Wiluna could be achieved.

The Vermin Fence survey took two years to complete but Canning`s work along the stock route involved three journeys and five years of his life.  The final journey to restore wells along the stock route began when Canning was 69 and lasted for 15 months, a truly remarkable feat of endurance.

Members of the Western Australian Division of The Institution of Surveyors

Source: MA,ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au