Tablelands Highway

StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesCape Crawford
FinishBarkly Homestead Roadhouse
DifficultyDifficulty 2/5
Suitable For2WD Motorhome/Van Motorbike 
Distance379.78 km
Minimum Days1
Average Speed59.16 km/hr
Travel Time6 hrs 25 mins
Page Updated: 14 Jul 2023

Description

The Tablelands Highway is a remote stretch of single-lane bitumen. Despite the challenge of the drive for big rigs, it is a popular route for caravan tourists as it connects with the 2 of major east-west arterials that are also suitable for caravans, being the Barkly Highway and Carpentaria Highway. It is also 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. There are not many decent overnight camp spots and the official Brunette Downs Rest Area (with windmill) is the main site along the route that is favoured by the majority. 24 hour stopping permitted only. There are a couple of other unofficial spots to camp in gravel pits or quarries that have also become popular overnight rest areas which you'll easily spot along the way, or check for Place markers on our map if you are using the ExplorOz Traveller app.

Although named as a "highway" it is really just 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 so you must take extreme care as the road is too narrow and unforgiving to a sudden need to stop or swerve to avoid obstacles.

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

  • To download this information and the route file for offline use on a phone, tablet, headunit or laptop, go to the app store and purchase ExplorOz Traveller. This app enables offline navigation and mapping and will show where you are as you travel along the route. For more info see the ExplorOz Traveller webpage and the EOTopo webpage.

TIP

ExplorOz Traveller now features the NEW EOTopo 2023 mapset!

Environment

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 nearby Connells Lagoon Conservation Reserve offers the opportunity to observe many protected species of wildlife and enjoy an "off highway" camp and 4WD track. See parks guide notes for info in the ExplorOz Place listing for the reserve.

History

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

Preparation

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.

TIP

Please refer to Road Reports published by the local shire and/or main roads for the area you intend to visit. Road/Track conditions can change significantly after weather events. Travellers must be responsible for their own research on current conditions and track suitability.
There is limited firewood along the Barkly - so bring your own supply if planning a camp fire. No fires, no pets and no generators allowed within the Connells Lagoon Conservation reserve.

Fuel Usage

There is no fuel along the Tablelands Highway other than at Barkly Homestead Roadhouse and Cape Crawford.
DieselULPLPG
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 51.88km S
 JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
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 mm105.999.956.215.38.17.04.41.45.915.530.067.1
    Best time to travel      Ok time to travel      Travel NOT recommended

Map

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Directions

Cape Crawford to Top Crossing
Driving: 12.69 km
Heading: 163°
Avg Speed: 60 km/hr
EST Time: 12:41
  • Drive north. for: 0 km time: 00:01
  • Turn right onto Carpentaria Highway/1. for: 0.3 km time: 00:12
  • Turn right onto Tablelands Highway/11. for: 12.39 km time: 12:29
Top Crossing to Kiana Turnoff to Rest Area
Driving: 93.97 km
Heading: 185°
Avg Speed: 59.76 km/hr
EST Time: 01:34:20
  • Drive southeast on Tablelands Highway/11. for: 93.88 km time: 01:33:53
  • Bear left. for: 0.09 km time: 00:28
Kiana Turnoff to Rest Area to Tablelands Hwy & Barkly Stock Route
Driving: 47.69 km
Heading: 189°
Avg Speed: 59.4 km/hr
EST Time: 48:10
  • Drive southeast. for: 0.1 km time: 00:29
  • Bear left onto Tablelands Highway/11. for: 47.54 km time: 47:32
  • Turn right onto Barkly Stock Route/16. for: 0.06 km time: 00:09
Tablelands Hwy & Barkly Stock Route to Tablelands Hwy & Calvert Rd
Driving: 19.01 km
Heading: 168°
Avg Speed: 59 km/hr
EST Time: 19:19
  • Drive east on Barkly Stock Route/16. for: 0.06 km time: 00:04
  • Turn right onto Tablelands Highway/11. for: 18.85 km time: 18:57
  • Turn left onto Calvert Road/16. for: 0.1 km time: 00:19
Tablelands Hwy & Calvert Rd to Brunette Downs Rest Area
Driving: 56.49 km
Heading: 141°
Avg Speed: 59.58 km/hr
EST Time: 56:53
  • Drive southwest on Calvert Road/16. for: 0.1 km time: 00:15
  • Turn left onto Tablelands Highway/11. for: 56.32 km time: 56:21
  • Bear left. for: 0.06 km time: 00:18
Brunette Downs Rest Area to Tablelands Hwy & Ranken Rd
Driving: 6.54 km
Heading: 156°
Avg Speed: 56.95 km/hr
EST Time: 06:53
  • Drive northwest. for: 0.06 km time: 00:17
  • Make a sharp left onto Tablelands Highway/11. for: 6.49 km time: 06:36
Tablelands Hwy & Ranken Rd to Barkly Homestead Roadhouse
Driving: 143.39 km
Heading: 188°
Avg Speed: 59.4 km/hr
EST Time: 02:24:50
  • Drive southeast on Tablelands Highway/11. for: 142.86 km time: 02:22:52
  • Turn left at the end of the road, onto Barkly Highway for: 0.33 km time: 00:31
  • Turn right. for: 0.09 km time: 00:22
  • Bear left. for: 0.01 km time: 00:04
  • Turn left. for: 0.1 km time: 01:01
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

Brunette Races (June) at Brunette Downs Station.

Facilities

Where to Stay

Services & Supplies

None available along the Tablelands Highway itself

Wildflowers

Related Travel Journals

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