The Derby Wharf/Jetty
The first wharf, built in 1894, was a wooden T shaped structure located at the northern end of the present steel and concrete jetty. It was linked to the town of Derby by a horse drawn tramway, crossing the mud flats via a causeway where the present day road is located. Wool and pearl shell were the major exports in the early days. In 1964, when the new jetty was built, live cattle were exported and fuel, oil and provisions were the main imports. The last passenger ship visited in 1973 . The Jetty is a popular place from which to view the stunning sunsets over King Sound or to fish for silver cobbler, shark, golden grunter, north west salmon and mud crabs on the incoming tides. These tides are Australia’s highest and the second highest in the southern hemisphere.
The Centenary Pavillion
Located at the jetty, this Pavilion tells of the geography and history of King Sound and the Port of Derby. The Pavilion features a colourful 28sqm mosaic tile floor depicting facets of life in the district.
Wharfingers House Museum
Corner of Elder and Loch Streets
Open on request. (Call at the Derby Visitor Centre during opening times for a key.) The history of the Wharf and the demise of the steam ship, the SS Colac, continues in displays at this Museum devoted to the communications history of the town. Displays feature the shipping, telecommunications and aviation history of the area together with small displays on fossil mud lobsters and termites. The building is a fine example of the prefabricated wooden housing of the 1930s well adapted for living in a tropical climate without the benefits of air-conditioning. It was restored in 1988 as part of the Bi-Centennial Project.
Opposite the Museum can be seen one of the oldest buildings in Derby. This is the old Wool Shed, for the export of goods prior to 1964. The import shed, where goods imported were stored for collection was demolished in 1998 to make way for a direct route to the wharf.
The horse drawn tramway extended from the Jetty down Loch Street as far as the King Sound Hotel site. Nearby was a quarry that was used to supply stone for the causeway across the mud flats. The tramway finished near McGovern and Thompson’s Store, (now Woolworths).
Those wishing to follow up on the story of the SS Colac can view the anchor and propeller of the vessel in the Lions Park in front of the Derby Civic Centre in Loch Street. The remains of the vessel can be viewed at low tide out from the end of the Derby airport runway via a fixed wing or helicopter flight. Access to the wreck is not possible from the land.
Old Derby Gaol
Loch Street – Registered National & State Heritage Site
The Police Station and depot for the Police Horse Patrol was located in Loch Street halfway between the original Town of Derby (established near Numbala Ngunga) and Derby Port, locally known in the early days as “The Point”. The restored Old Derby Gaol is a tangible reminder of these times and is the oldest building in the town (1906). The significance of the Gaol to the Derby community is explained at the site.
Derby Pioneer Cemetery
The cemetery and Old Gaol are sites on the Pigeon Heritage Trail which tells of the exploits of the Aboriginal Jandamarra. A booklet on the trail can be obtained from the Visitor Centre. At the cemetery one of Jandamarra’s victims, Police Constable William Richardson, is buried.
Another interesting grave is that of the Aboriginal Police Tracker “Larry” Kunamarra who was honoured by the Queen for his services. Many graves in the cemetery are without headstones.
Myalls Bore and Cattle Trough
7km from Derby near the Prison Tree
The first bore at this location was dug in 1910/11. It replaced the original well sunk by Alfred Duckworth Mayall in the early 1890s. The 1910/11 bore was 322 metres deep, had a residual head of 6 metres and cost 2700 pounds. When John Tait Blain was Secretary of the Road Board (1916/17) he had Joe Griffen build the concrete trough which is there to this day. This trough could handle 500 bullocks at one time and was later extended to a length of 120 metres. The flow from the bore was dropping off even by 1919. Now water is pumped into the trough by a windmill. The water from the bore has a rich mineral content and was reputed to have therapeutic properties. A bath house once stood near the trough. (See the Boab Prison Tree Interpretative Pavilion located on site for further information).
Boab Prison Tree
7km from Derby on the Derby – Broome Highway
This huge tree is believed to be around 1,500 years old and has a girth of 14.7 metres. It was used as staging point for prisoners being walked into Derby in the early days.
The Prison Tree is a registered Aboriginal Site. Visitors are requested to respect the cultural sensitivity of the site and not climb into or approach close to the tree. (See the Boab Prison Tree Interpretative Pavilion located on site for further information).
Derby Pastoral Trail – Stage 1
The Derby Pastoral Trail tells the story of the last day of travel for drovers with their herds from Myall’s Bore to the jetty. Stage 1 starts at the One Mile Dinner Camp at the corner of Mimosa Street and Rowan Street and ends at the Centenary Pavilion at the jetty.
Adjacent to Myall’s Bore
Built in 1944 as a bathing area for troops stationed in the area during the Second World War, this is one of the few remaining reminders of those years in the town. The bath was constructed by the 3rd General Transport Co. and was nicknamed Frosty’s Pool after a platoon member, Charles L.V. Frost.
Joon Joo Botanical Trail
Some of the plants and animals of the Wanganut Land System are described on three kilometres of walking trail located in the Wanganut Reserve between the Derby Speedway and Conway Street. Interpretative plaques explain how the bush was used by the Nyikina people. The trail is an initiative of the Derby Chamber of Commerce and the Derby Visitor Centre. Access off Speedway Road. A trail booklet is available at the Visitor Centre.
Art and History
The Spirit of the Wandjina Art Studio at Mowanjum Aboriginal Community welcomes visitors 9am to 5pm 7 days a week May – September, Phone 08 9191 1008. Work from this community was a feature of the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Jila Gallery and Norval Gallery offers on display artworks from local artists. Boab Canvas Print offers photographic art printing and gallery.
Derby (Waste Water) Wetland
Access via Conway Street.
Bird watchers can view near the waste water ponds a great variety of ducks, waders and other water birds that use the area as a day time roost. The managed wetland adjacent with shallow water and reed beds attracts wetland birds and migratory waders. (Ask at the Derby Visitor Centre for a bird list and directions)
Derby Golf Course
Derby Recreation Area Ashley Street
The wonderful boab trees, green fairways and putting surfaces make this 18 hole composite course a pleasure to play on for any golfer. Recycled water has enabled the green fairways to be created to a design by well known professional golfer Terry Gale. Visitors are welcome.
Kimberley School of the Air (KSOTA)
KSOTA is based in Derby and provides educational services for children in pre-school to Year 7 who live in isolated and remote locations across the entire Kimberley region. Children undertake correspondence programs which are supported by satellite lessons, teacher visits and regular camps and seminars. Camp programs focus heavily on interactive and collaborative socialisation experiences, including the Arts and Physical Education. Year 4-7 students also attend camp in Perth with their counterparts from four other Schools of the Air around the State. KSOTA is also open to visitors and tourists. Tours operate in term 2 & 3 – Enquire at the Derby Visitor Centre for more information.
The Buccaneer Archipelago
The Archipelago is 35 minutes flying time from Derby. It consists of up to 1,000 rugged, sparsely vegetated islands, with patches of rainforest in moist areas, secluded beaches and a fringe of mangroves where silt has accumulated. The islands are rich in bird and animal life with 118 species of bird and 11 species of snake recorded on Koolan Island alone. A tidal range of up to twelve metres is experienced, which creates such phenomena as the horizontal reversible waterfall in Talbot Bay, a must see for any visitor. Rock art on the islands reflects the occupation by Aboriginal people and isolated graves are testimony to the dangers of pearling at the turn of the century. The scars of mining for iron ore can be seen on Koolan and Cockatoo Island. In addition, sea safaris leave Derby on a regular basis between April and November to explore the West Kimberley Coast.
Regular Scenic Flights leave from Derby and give a tantalising view of this wonderful coastline.