Threeways, just 24 kms from Tennant Creek, is aptly named being at the junction of two major roads, the Barkly Highway (east) and the Stuart Highway (north and south). The routes both follow interesting trails and are also known as the Overlander and Explorer Ways. The Explorers Way roughly retraces the journeys of John McDouall Stuart’s exploration parties across Australia and the Overlanders Way (Barkly Highway) retraces the original route of early stockmen who drove their cattle from Queensland through the grazing lands in the Northern Territory.
The Barkly Tableland
This rolling plain of grassland is known as the Barkly Tableland, vast elevated plains of black soil with golden Mitchell grass. It covers the area east from Tennant Creek towards the Queensland border and is among the most important cattle grazing areas in the Northern Territory with some of the world’s largest cattle stations. Roughly the same size as the United Kingdom or New Zealand, it covers 283,648 sq kms, 21% of the Northern Territory. It runs as far south as Barrow Creek, north above Elliott and west into the Tanami Desert.
William Landsborough explored much of northern Australia and named the tableland after Sir Henry Barkly, governor of Victoria.
In 1877 overlanders Nat Buchanan and Sam Croker crossed the Barkly Tableland and rode on to the Overland Telegraph Line opening new land for settlement. After generous leasing arrangements the Barkly region became more settled.