Barkly Tableland is a vast territory that has to be one of the most sparsely inhabitated regions in the world: it's about the same size as the United Kingdom, but home to just 5,900 inhabitants. The region roughly stretches from Newcastle Waters in the north to Barrow Creek in the south. Both of these settlements are connected by the Stuart Highway, the largest paved road that stretches right through the Northern Territory. More than half the population live in Tennant Creek, a gold-mining village with the last gold rush occurring as recent as the 1930s. The second paved road is the Barkly Highway, which connects Tennant Creek all the way east to Queensland. Along the road are wide grassy plains with plenty of cattle stations to be found. These plains are among the most important cattle grazing areas in the Northern Territory. The region has an average of about 140,000 tourists each year, most of them passing through on the way to the Red Centre. History The history of the Barkly Tablelands started in the late 1850s, when William Landsborough discovered the area and named it after Sir Henry Barkly, then the governor of Victoria. The completion of the Overland Telegraph Line in 1872, which allowed fast communication between Australia and Europe, led to increased settlement in the region. The Overland Telegraph Line connected Port Augusta with Darwin, a total span of 3,200 kilometres right through the Outback. It roughly followed the current Stuart Highway, where most settlements can still be found today.