Tablelands Highway

StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesCape Crawford
FinishBarkly Homestead Roadhouse
DifficultyDifficulty 2/5
Suitable For4WD AWD 2WD Caravan Camper Motorhome 
Distance378.25 km
Minimum Days1
Average Speed49.3 km/hr
Travel Time7 hrs 40 mins
Page Updated: 11 May 2014


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.

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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.

TrekID: 222


MUST READ: You are strongly encouraged to read the following articles prepared by the knowledge experts at ExplorOz for your safety and preparation before undertaking any published ExplorOz Trek - Outback Safety, Outback Driving Tips, Outback Communications, and Vehicle Setup for the Outback.

There is limited firewood along the Barkly - so bring your own supply if planning a camp fire.

Fuel Usage

There is no fuel along the Tablelands Highway other than at Barkly Homestead Roadhouse and Cape Crawford.
4cyl 53 litres4cyl 61 litres4cyl 76 litres
6cyl 58 litres6cyl 69 litres6cyl 67 litres
8cyl 58 litres8cyl 63 litres
Usage is averaged from recorded data (* specific to this trek) and calculated based on trek distance.

Best Time To Visit

This road is sealed and generally passable year round, however if there has been rain, beware of wash-outs on the shoulders.

Closest Climatic Station

Brunette Downs
Distance from Trek Mid Point 51.97km S
Mean Max. °C37.136.335.133.529.826.826.729.633.536.737.938.4
Mean Min. °C24.524.222.319.215.011.310.512.516.620.623.024.4
Mean Rain mm105.999.956.
    Best time to travel      Ok time to travel      Travel NOT recommended


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Cape Crawford to Heartbreak Hotel
Driving: 0.62 km
Heading: 125°
Avg Speed: 49.3 km/hr
EST Time: 00:45
Heartbreak Hotel to Top Crossing
Driving: 11.78 km
Heading: 163°
Avg Speed: 49.3 km/hr
EST Time: 14:20
Top Crossing to Kiana Turnoff to Rest Area
Driving: 91.98 km
Heading: 185°
Avg Speed: 49.3 km/hr
EST Time: 01:51:56
Kiana Turnoff to Rest Area to Tablelands Hwy & Barkly Stock Route
Driving: 49.34 km
Heading: 189°
Avg Speed: 49.3 km/hr
EST Time: 01:00:02
Tablelands Hwy & Barkly Stock Route to Tablelands Hwy & Calvert Rd
Driving: 18.82 km
Heading: 168°
Avg Speed: 49.3 km/hr
EST Time: 22:54
Tablelands Hwy & Calvert Rd to Brunette Downs Rest Area
Driving: 55.41 km
Heading: 141°
Avg Speed: 49.3 km/hr
EST Time: 01:07:26
Brunette Downs Rest Area to Tablelands Hwy & Ranken Rd
Driving: 8.69 km
Heading: 156°
Avg Speed: 49.3 km/hr
EST Time: 10:34
Tablelands Hwy & Ranken Rd to Emu Waterhole
Driving: 58.59 km
Heading: 172°
Avg Speed: 49.3 km/hr
EST Time: 01:11:18
Emu Waterhole to 5km SSW of Homestead ALROY DOWNS
Driving: 34.34 km
Heading: 188°
Avg Speed: 49.3 km/hr
EST Time: 41:47
5km SSW of Homestead ALROY DOWNS to Barkly Homestead Roadhouse
Driving: 48.68 km
Heading: 208°
Avg Speed: 49.3 km/hr
EST Time: 59:14
Distance is based on the travel mode shown (Driving, Straight, Cycling, Walking etc), Direction is straight line from start to end, Avg Speed & EST Time is calculated from GPS data.

What to See

Birdwatching, and Brunette Races (June).


Where to Stay

Services & Supplies

None available along the Tablelands Highway itself


Related Travel Journals

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