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.
How to Use this Trek Note
Click the "Map" tab below to see the route we've provided. Icons on the map are the POIs you'll need for navigation purposes. Be sure to check the list of Nearby Places
on each POI page.
If you'd like to save this information there are a couple of ways to go about it, depending on what you're actually after:-
- Ideal solution - download the ExplorOz Traveller App from Google Play or the App Store. The app enables you to carry the ExplorOz Places, Treks, & Maps data offline in your mobile device ready for your adventures. It is a complete mapping, navigation and tracking app. For more details, read our ExplorOz Traveller page.
- You can print a paper copy of the text using the print icon button shown above, near the social media buttons. For the best output it is advised to open each tab/section to load all images and artwork. You will still need to click open each Place page (listed in Where to Stay, What to See) to print off all available information.
- If you have a Hema Navigator or use Mapping Software such as OziExplorer, or TrackRanger AND you are an ExplorOz Member, then you can click the Download Trek button at the top of this page to obtain the raw data files (eg. GPX) for this Trek.
- If you're not a Member, or you'd like to batch download the entire Treks database you can obtain this by buying a product called EOTreks Route Files from our online shop.
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 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.