The Tablelands Highway is a remote stretch of single-lane bitumen which has also become a popular route for caravan tourists as it affords a unique opportunity to explore the land that lies between the major east-west arterials - the Barkly Highway
and Carpentaria Highway
. Although some 190km east of the Stuart Highway, it is a decent alternative route for getting some north-south mileage under your wheels on a quieter stretch of road if you don't mind the remoteness.
With that said however, the Tablelands is a major cattle grazing region and at times you may encounter cattle trucks moving stock and some caution is required if you do.
Although named as a "highway" the Tablelands Highway is much closer to a pastoral service road making its way through grazing land. Many kilometres are not fenced and red kangaroos and cattle cross the bitumen with no regard for vehicles.
Each year in June, the Brunette Races also draws
a crowd. Located on Brunette Downs Station, this is a 4-day outback carnival of racing, campdraft, and rodeo, along with kids and adults gymkhana, a fancy dress party, and the Battle of the Barkly. Participate or spectate - camping onsite.
Interactive Route Map
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Tablelands Highway From:
Barkly Homestead Roadhouse
This trek supports moving map, to take a virtual tour click on the Play button.
Things to See & Do
Birdwatching, and Brunette Races (June).
There is limited firewood along the Barkly - so bring your own supply if planning a camp fire.
Camp Sites & Accommodation
The Tablelands Highway is noted for it's seemingly endless horizon of treeless plains, which dominate the area at the southern end. Whilst it's northern end is sandstone
and gulf country
The dominant flora of the Tableland is semi-arid savanna of Mitchell Grass. Mitchell Grass is well adapted to dry soils and periods of drought. The grasslands support other distinctive plants but only widely spaced acacia trees.
The Flock Bronzewing is the most widespread of the birds seen in the area, but nearby wetlands are also breeding grounds for waterbirds and as the season dries out, these birds may be seen seeking water from the bores that dot the highway.
A few venomous snakes such as the speckled brown snake, and Collet's snake are prevalent in the grasslands, along with the dwarf dtella (gecko). You might also spot
a dunnart, brushtail possum, and the long-haired rat (in huge numbers after the wet season).
The Barkly tableland was discovered and named by William Landsborough. In 1877 Nat Buchanan crossed the Barkly and rode on to the Overland Telegraph Line opening new land for settlement. Brunette Downs (then called Corella Creek), with outstations at Anthony Lagoon and Creswell Creek, for Macdonald, Smith and Co. was established in 1883 after Harry Redford (Captain Starlight) drove a mob of cattle to the Barkly.