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Published: June 24th 2012
This is the main street heading into town (towards the wharf). How great is it to have a street like this lined with Boab trees down the centre strip.
Derby – Beyond the Boabs.
3rg June 2012
After picking up the Trakkie in Broome from Keshi Storage, who were very accommodating, it was onwards and upwards to Derby with some trepidation as we had heard a lot of mixed reports about the town, in fact we had spoken to several people who were not even going to go in there! Derby is also in there as ‘The Gateway to the Gorges’ and where the real Kimberley Region begins and was the first town settled in the Kimberleys. The Port of Derby was first established in the 1880’s and was a landing point for Wool Shipments. The first jetty was built in 1894 and linked to the main town by horse drawn tramway, wool and pearl shell in the early days were the mainstay of the port. In 1964 when the new jetty was built, live cattle were exported and fuel and provisions were the main imports. The tides in Derby are Australia’s highest with tidal variations as much as 11.00 metres and when we were here the tide was 10.98 metres and we made sure we went down to see it at a low and at its peak,
..and wide streets at that.
the speed of the water rushing out and in was amazing.
The first European to visit King Sound on which Derby is situated, was William Dampier in 1688. The land prior to European settlement had been ‘owned’ and occupied by the Nyikina people. There was a lot of confrontation and conflict between the aborigines and white people during the 1880’s mostly due to the white peoples’ oppression and no regard for the aborigine (see slavery of aborigines in Cape Leveque blog). The story of the aboriginal outlaw Jandamarra, (Pidgeon), and his people the Banuba tribe starts here in Derby and finishes in Windjana Gorge and the caves of Tunnel Creek. Jandamarra was initially a Police Tracker and was eventually convinced to turn against the Police as his people were treated so badly. Whilst on the run he killed a Police Constable, William Richardson, who is buried in the Derby Pioneer Cemetery. Jandamarra was on the run for a couple of years and saved many of his tribe and you will have to read the Windjana Gorge, Tunnel Creek Blog to see how his story ends.
Myall’s Bore was built in the 1890’s by Alfred Mayall to water the
The tide in this pic is about7 to 8 mtrs below high tide mark. This pic also shows the nickel loader.
cattle that were driven down from the vast cattle stations of the Kimberley, at the end of what is now called the Gibb River Road. The bore is 320 metres deep and feeds a trough that is 120 metres long, reputedly the longest in the southern hemisphere and able to water 500 bullocks at a time.
Another interesting tourist stop on the outskirts of town and near to Myall’s bore is the Boab Prison Tree. This tree is believed to be about 1500 years old and used as staging point for prisoners being walked into Derby in the early days.
The Mowanjum Art and Culture centre should also be on your itinerary for a visit housing unique Indigenous art from the West Kimberley. To the three Western Kimberley Indigenous communities the’ Wandjina’ is the supreme spirit, being the creator of all life. These people and their ancestors have been painting Wandjina and Gyorn Gyorn figures (hunters) on rock walls, in river gorges and on bark for millennia. We found the artwork here and the cultural display fantastic and interesting and well worth a stop.
Driving into Derby the first time you cannot help but notice the avenue
of Boab trees that ran down the centre of the wide road and lined the sides of the streets, they are impressive and everywhere. Because the tree is protected in the shire, you will find them in some interesting places and roads have been diverted around them! Derby had a modern supermarket that was well supported by a number of other retail outlets and light industry. A highlight for us was the Windmill Café, once again Trish found the best coffee in town, a veritable little oasis.
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