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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Derby, Western Australia

Boab Prison Tree

Derby is the home of the boab tree, sometimes called the bottle tree. Fifteen hundred years old, and even older, they are only found in the Kimberley. No one knows how they got here, it's possible the seeds floated across from Madagasca somehow, where they originated from. I'm totally fascinated and in love with the boab and can't stop photographing these beautiful, unique works of art.

Derby was the first town to be settled in the Kimberley and it also has the highest tides in Australia - 11 and 12 metres. It's also the first time I've seen the notice 'no swimming - crocodiles'.

In the late 1800's, young Aboriginal men and women were kidnapped from the West Kimberly and sold as divers and crew to the pearling lugger owners. The kidnappers, known as Blackbirders, were settlers who were connected to the pearling industry. They rounded them up, put chains around their necks and marched them long distances to the coast. Some were held captive at the Boab Prison Tree en route to the Derby lockup where a boat took them to the pearling sites. They had to dive to a depth of 12 metres without any equipment which resulted in many deaths. Such cruel injustice beggars belief.

Cooking the crabs

Derby is also the departure point for keen fisherman who fly in from all over the country to go on fishing safaris in the pristine wilderness of the Buccaneer Archipelago. Prices start at $3500 for five nights, $4800 for a week and the 10 day trip leaving on the 7th August is already booked out. Dennis went out on a crabbing trip with two other men today and came back with 3 good sized mudcrabs for dinner. Delicious.