Brisbane, QLD

Monday, September 7, 2009

Kimberley and Top End (Part4)-Derby

In the last post the fake pearls were the ones on the left on the red background. Congratulations to those who could tell (I couldn't). Apparently the way to tell is that they are too perfectly round to be real. Real pearls are rarely perfectly round.

Well at last we are on the road towards Darwin.

We stop at a roadhouse for the loo and an ice cream (it was straight out of the 50's). The temperature is 37C.

Derby is a small town on the north coast of W.A., which developed in the 1880's as a port for shipping wool and beef cattle. Now it exports zinc and lead concentrates. The street is lined with Boab trees.
The Boab tree is found in the Kimberley and Top End region of Australia. Different species are found in Madagascar and Africa. This one has leaves because it has access to water, the ones in the wild do not usually have leaves. They grow to 9 to 12 metres high and have a diameter of over 5 metres. They have an egg shaped fruit.

The Boab Prison Tree is found on the outskirts of Derby. It is estimated at being 1500 years old and it has a girth of 14.7 metres and it is hollow.
Before Derby was established in1883, Aboriginal people were kidnapped. The kidnappers, known as blackbirders, were settlers connected with the pearling industry. They wanted divers and workers for the boats. They rounded up people and put them in chains and held them at the Boab Prison Tree while they waited for a boat. Later prisoners were held here awaiting trial in Derby.(Not a pleasant part of our history)

Later, The old Derby gaol, was built. It had concrete floors, iron roof and wire walls.

Near Derby is the Myall Bore and trough. The bore is 322m deep and the trough is 120m long, the longest in the country. It can water 500 bullocks at a time. It was used by drovers taking huge herds to the jetty in Derby.
Now road trains take Zinc and Lead to the jetty from mines 300 k. away at Pillara. The trailers are fully sealed. The trains are 50 m long and have 84 wheels and carry 118t. They make 2 round trips a day. 1200t of concentrates are moved every 24 hours.
Derby has huge 11m. tides. There is no water under the jetty at low tide so big ships cannot dock. Instead the Zinc and Lead is conveyed from a storage shed to the jetty and loaded onto barges at high tide and the barges take it to the ships anchored out in deeper water. So work has to be managed around the few hours of high tide.

Tourists enjoy the jetty.

View Broome to Derby in a larger map


  1. Another great post, Diane. I'm amazed at those Boab trees. Unbelievable!!!! AND--the road trains are interesting.... Things are so different there than they are here. I love hearing your story. Thanks for taking us along.

  2. The old gaol (jail for US readers) was very primitive and hot under an old tin roof.

  3. Diane, it is good to be back blogging;can see I have some interesting reading here.
    Great Post as usual!

  4. Wow - so many new words for me! gaol (thanks to the above poster) and bore..Boab tree, bullocks..we get a lesson in history, geography and language! I love it -and the map was very helpful as well. thanks for taking us along :-)

  5. What wonderful pictures and so interesting! I love the Boab trees, I think they are so fascinating.
    Sunny :)

  6. Thanks for share so beautiful report. Love the Boab Tree!!
    Luiz Ramos

  7. Thanks for the visit to Australia. Great photos and info. Love the name of your blog!

  8. Fascinating, Diane, to see such differences between this part of Australia and life here in the UK. Especially loved the pictures of the boab tree - which I've never seen before. The Boab Prison Tree is amazing!

  9. The boab tree sure is an interesting thing!

  10. "HB" or "Yellow Mellow"September 10, 2009 at 8:28 AM

    That Boab tree with the large hole in the trunk is like the trees at Burra, SA - but of course not a boab tree - too cold for them down there. The big trees at Burra were where the poorer miner families lived way back in the 1850's. I think it was the Hartz Germans who lived in these trees. Seeing is believing - excellent coverage. The poorer Irish were those who were living in the holes in the river banks!

  11. I am re-living our trip to The Kimberley in 2007 and really enjoying your posts. Looking forward to retracing our steps next year from Darwin to Broome to Perth to Kalgoorlie. Lots of wonderful places to see.

  12. What a wonderful insight into that part of the world Diane, such an informative and interesting post. I loved it. The Boab tree is extraordinary. I have never seen one before. I have heard of those road trains before, even saw a documentary on them once. They are amazing as are all your photographs. Thanks you for the fun read!

  13. Wow! I just finished reading the posts of your Mom's diary, house building and tribute to your brother. Thank you for sharing! Your family is amazing. My daughter loves Australia. She was in Sidney for some college classes and would love to go back. I sent her your blog address and I'm looking forward to your next posts.

  14. wow! amazing tree, there's a large hole and I think there are children who loves to play inside, hehe. I love all the series of pictures, very beautiful..


  15. A 1500 year old tree?! YIKES! I hope it is protected. The gaol looks so cruel! Great Blog Mum. I'm enjoying the trip with you!

  16. I love that last photo of the people fishing.

  17. Reading these first few days in reverse order. You have many more facts and figures than I include in mine. I am more into personal assessment. Should be a good complement to each other.