Go West, Day 91 – Derby

Day 91

Friday 5th June 2015, 32 degrees


You know that it must be a hot climate when the caravan park washing machines are out on the verandah and folks leave their cars running whilst they go shopping, for the sake of the air conditioning.

This is a nice park and there is a large treeless area at the back where vans can be left whilst the owners do the Gibb River Road in their tents.

We return to the wharf to see the low tide, what a difference. We can now see how high the wharf really is. In the old days the steamers used to rest on the mud at low tide.

Derby Wharf

The Boab Prison Tree on the edge of town is huge, squat, gnarled and old. Used as a lock up in the early days it is estimated at about 1500 years old. Boabs don’t have rings so a more accurate figure can’t be ascertained. Nearby is Myall’s bore which feeds the Southern Hemisphere’s longest water trough. At 120 metres in length 500 cattle could drink from it at once, just imagine the sight, smell and sound of that. In the droving days cattle were rested here overnight. The next day they would be moved a few kilometres to the Dinner Tree where they would be rested in the midday sun before being herded across the mudflats to the waiting ship.

The boab prison tree at Derby, WA
Myall’s bore, you can almost smell the cattle
Dinner Tree, last rest stop for the cattle
Then out across the flats to the wharf and waiting ship

We visit the Wharfinger Museum which was once the house belonging to the ‘Wharfinger’ which was the name given to the wharf manager. Ah the intricacies of the English language. Does this mean that the manager of a ‘finger wharf’ is a Finger Wharf Wharfinger?

We’ve been having great fun with Mi Flight Radar app as Derby is under a flight path. Surprisingly it is close to the halfway point between Sydney and Kuala Lumpur. Which is ironic as Geraldton to Derby was Australia’s very first commercial air route in 1922 before even Qantas got off the ground.

Accom: $44.00

Travelling Kms: 0

Note: For those unfamiliar with this area, the Gibb River Road runs roughly north south through the Kimberley region between Kununurra and Derby. It is a four-wheel drive road. We’ll be taking the more circuitous bitumen road.

The Dinner Tree, a lunchtime stop for the drovers and cattle as lunch back then was referred to as dinner and dinner as we know it was called tea. Tea (morning or afternoon) was called smoko.

Live cattle shipments are a contentious issue today but surprisingly it is a practice that has been in operation since the 19th century when cattle was shipped from the Kimberley to markets in the Philippines. Refer “kings in Grass Castles’ by Mary Durack.

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