No. 10: Barkly Transport

Jon Condon, 04/12/2013


ROADTRAINS bearing the Barkly Transport insignia were once a familiar sight across the Northern Territory, before disappearing after being taken over and absorbed within the larger Road Trains of Australia business.

But following a change of ownership, the Barkly Transport name and business entity is now back, and the business is again growing rapidly.

Barkly Transport was founded by legendary NT cattle baron Peter Sherwin in the 1970s, starting with two trucks out of his pastoral company headquarters at Mungabroom on the western edge of the Barkly Tableland.

It later grew to include about 15 trucks, before Sherwin Pastoral sold out its land, cattle and trucking interests to Heytesbury Pastoral Co. Heytesbury had no real interest in transport operations, on-selling the Barkly Transport business to Road Trains of Australia.

When Jim Cooper, who then owned RTA, sold RTA to Hansen’s Transport about six years ago, the Barkly Transport name was not included in the deal. He retained the business name, keeping it 'on the shelf' before being convinced to sell it to today’s owner, ex buffalo catcher, Tommy Fawcett, based out of Adelaide River.

Fawcett Cattle Co was already running five or six of its own roadtrains at the time, and bought the Barkly Transport name partly for nostalgic reasons, but also because the original Barkly Transport had such a strong reputation across Northern Australia.

Nothing happened until January this year, when, under the operations management of 40-year industry veteran, James “Zipper” Murphy, Fawcett Cattle Co resurrected the respected Barkly Transport name. By mid-year, it had 33 trucks working under the Barkly Transport banner, including 15 prime movers owned and operated by the company itself, both Kenworths and Macks, and a further 18 sub-contractor and station-owned trucks managed as part of the fleet.

Waterloo Station, in the VRD, for example, as three trucks based with BT permanently, while the Murphy family from Kalala, near Daly Waters, has six.

The company-owned trucks are all run in three-trailer roadtrain configuration, with one-time uplift capacity of 90 decks.

Corporate clients include Terra Firma (Consolidated Pastoral Co), S. Kidman, Thames Pastoral, and Paraway Pastoral Co.

The vast bulk of the business is in shifting cattle off the Barkly or VRD areas to Darwin for live export, plus some runs to WA ports including Broome and Wyndham. At other times of year, trucks head south to Naracoorte and other southern processing destinations, crossloading at Port Augusta with trucks supplied by Trans Australia Transport. 

BT also often works collaboratively with Alice Springs operator, Tanami Transport.

“It works for both of us. When Tanami’s busy, we tend not to be, so we go down and help them, and the reverse applies when we are flat out up this way,” Zipper Murphy told Beef Central.




Barkly Transport

Fawcett Cattle Co, Lot 196, Coach Rd, Adelaide River NT 0846

Ph (08) 8976 7040

Fax (08) 8976 7090

Email: zipper.bt@bigpond.com






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  1. Scott Parker, 05/09/2021

    My dad drove for barkly in the 70s. I’m looking for a aerial picture of him pulling 6 double trailers

  2. G .loder, 24/06/2016

    The original Barkly boys were the best you get, they did unreal trips and under old peter only they know how it was, the yarns that can be told most would not deem true ,may the red bull hang in there,cheers to all

  3. Mario DeSilva, 17/06/2016

    it will never be as good as the original Barkly Transport nor have the tough as bull-hide / character drivers who could do the miles and then party till next trip out, sometimes 3 months out on the road before getting back home to the yard, tough men them ex Barkly boys,

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