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Derby lies 220km north of Broome on the King Sound. Derby is a small but spread out town that marks the western end of the exciting Gibb River Road.

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Derby Prison Tree

Derby is known as the gateway to the gorges. Most famous for its haunting Prison Tree, it is no longer the Administration Centre for the West Kimberley, but operates as a coastal administration centre and important supply point for the surrounding Kimberley stations.
The Municipal Gardens in Derby offer a quite walk through some spectacular flora, left from not so long ago, when Derby was Administration Centre of the west Kimberley and was the busiest, friendliest town in the wild Australian outback.

Derby History

Derby developed slowly as a small town serving local tenacious pastoralists who settled in the area despite the isolation and harsh conditions.
In 1880, sheep stations were built nearby at Yeeda and a landing port was built. The massive 11 metres 36 feet tides, rips and scattered islands of the Dampier Archipelago made a port necessary for the development of the West Kimberley outback.
In 1885, a jetty was constructed to service the growing pastoral areas and the thousands that flocked to Western Australia for the gold rush. Troubles broke out between the European settlers and local aborigines, violence and hostility racked the towns development.
Derby was the western base in the 1960s and 1970s as the Gibb River Road was built for the station owners in the outback to carry their beef from the remote outback stations to abattoirs at either Derby or Broome in the West Kimberley, or the Wyndham in the East Kimberley.

Gibb River Road

The construction of the Gibb River Road was responsible for white man seeing and finding things never before dreamed of. Sacred sites of different aboriginal language people were discovered, as were magnificent art sites. White men and aboriginal men worked side by side, building what started as a utility road for the beef industry, and what has become one of the most iconic remote self-drive tracks in the world.
Sam Lovell was one of the young aboriginal fellas who worked alongside the white fellas to build the Gibb River Road. Sam Lovell is now much honoured and revered for his contribution to understanding Australias North West.

Boab Trees

Boab trees are a symbol of the Kimberley outback.
The infamous Boab Prison Tree is just south of Derby. This symbol of inhumanity is 14m wide and has an opening or doorway 1m wide, 2m high. Capable of holding a number of prisoners, it was used by police during the 1890s as a lock up for Aboriginal prisoners on their way to Derby for sentencing.

Derby Prison Tree

In 1912, close by to the Derby Prison Tree, a man called Myall originally sank a bore - Myalls Bore - to a depth of 322m. The water from Myalls Bore was used to fill a 120m-long, 4.2m-wide cattle trough known to be the longest in the southern hemisphere. Many, many thousands of cattle would have drunk from that trough in the days when cattle was king of the Kimberley.

Derby Circular Wharf

At Circular Wharf, the Derby jetty area, according if the tide is in or out, you can either walk a jetty on huge stilts, high above the mud flats and the saltwater crocodiles or be close to the brown and dangerously rapid waters stirred up by Australias biggest tides as the massive 11 metres tides rush in.
The port was actually closed by Derbys Department of Marine and Harbours in 1983. Remains of the original livestock loading facility can be seen right next to the jetty.
Today, beef is Derbys primary industry and oil is mined at nearby Blini. Derby holds its Boab Festival in July and is the Western Gateway to the rugged Gibb River Road through the Kimberley.

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