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Derby is a town in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia, best known for its giant "prison" Boab tree. It's on the north coast on an inlet of King Sound, and in 2016 had a population of 3325, half of them Aboriginal. You might stop off here on the long, long highway into Northern Territory, or for fishing. The town has no decent beach and limited other attractions - if you're a mud crab you don't want to read about these.

1 Derby Visitor Centre is on Loch St at the west end of town by the bus stop, open M-F 08:30-16:00.

Get in[edit]

Map of Derby (Western Australia)

1 Derby Airport (DRB  IATA), +61 8 9191 0999. Aviair flies 3 days a week from Broome, which has connections from Perth, Geraldton, Karratha, Port Hedland and Darwin. The airport is tiny, 10 km south of town.

Derby is 220 km east of Broome by Highway 1, a two hour drive. That makes it 2270 km from Perth by the shortest route, the Great Northern Highway inland via Newman and Port Hedland, or 2580 km by the North West Coastal Highway via Geraldton, Carnarvon and Port Hedland. Integrity buses run three days a week from Perth along these highways, taking 36 hours to Broome where you change to the Greyhound, another 2 hr 30 min.

From Darwin by road is 1650 km by Highway 1, which is sealed and suitable for 2WD in all seasons. With 4WD you can short cut from Wyndham along Gibb River Road, which is gravel but crosses river fords, impassable in the wet season.

Greyhound Australia runs from Darwin five days a week, taking 21 hours via Katherine, Timber Creek, Kununurra, Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing, and continuing to Broome.

The bus terminus in Derby is outside the Visitor Centre, northwest end of town on Loch Street.

Get around[edit]

You can walk between Derby town and the jetty, but you need your own wheels for anywhere else.

Derby Towntour Taxi is on +61 8 9191 1434. You might have to wait awhile.


  • 1 Boab Prison Tree stands at the entrance to town. It's a 1500-year-old hollow Boab (Adansonia gregorii) with a girth of 14.7 m. It was used by the Aboriginals as an ossuary, but in spite of the legend was never used as a jail, though the Boab near Wyndham was. The real jail is 500 m southeast.
  • Frosty's Pool on the highway by the Boab turn-off is a rusting swimming pool, built in 1944 by Corporal Frost and a couple of mates. Hard to see how a Guardsman would ever fit in it.
  • 2 Mowanjum Culture Centre, Gibb River Road, +61 8 9191 1008. Tu 9AM-5PM, W-F 9AM-3PM, Sa 9AM-2PM. The Mowanjum comprise the Worrorra, Ngarinyin, Wunambal and Gaambera people. The centre displays their art and crafts, hosts events and has a museum. Adult $5.
  • Norval Gallery, 28 Loch St (by bus stop and visitor centre), +61 458 110 816. Temporarily closed. This displays Aboriginal art, some is for sale.
  • 3 Wharfinger's House Museum, 3 Loch St, +61 8 9191 1426. Key from Visitor Centre. The "wharfinger" was the wharf manager, and his bungalow on stilts is now a local history museum.
  • 4 Derby Jetty is the place to come line-fishing or watch the sunset. It's a curious horseshoe built in the 1960s, replacing the original of 1885 which was connected to town by a horse-drawn tram. As elsewhere on the Australian west coast, the problem for early European settlers was the lack of safe harbours and a big tidal range, which here reaches 12 m. Great expanses of mud flats disappear remarkably quickly as the tide floods, don't be caught out them.
  • Mary Island North and South are the low scrubby archipelago seen 8 km west of the jetty. Their waters and mud flats are popular for fishing.


Boab Prison Tree
  • Beaches: frankly no, it's just mud flats, although the shoreline is enlivened by wacky sculptures. The big tides churn up the mud so the sea is turbid cold cocoa, no fun to swim or paddle in, and snorkelling is pointless.
  • Golf: Derby Sportsmen's Club is south side of town at 61 Ashley St. As well as the golf course they organise other events.
  • Memorial Swimming Pool is west side of the Visitor Centre, corner of Clarendon and Johnston streets. It's an open-air 25 m pool, open daily 11AM-5PM. Day membership is $5.50 in 2024.
  • One Mile Dinner Camp is south end of the golf course. Cattle drovers would lay up here with their herds awaiting the next ship at the jetty. One lucky cow traditionally got eaten here instead of further down the transport chain, with its meat traded for supplies from town, and the drovers tucking in to a roast. It's still a popular picnic spot especially at sundown.
  • Derby Speedway have regular races May-Oct. They're on Worsley Road south of town, turn off the highway by Frosty's Pool.
  • Mud crab races are two or three times a year, at Mary Island Fishing Club, 12 Elder St. The club gathers crabs and paints names on them. They're tipped into a ring marked by a rope, and the first to scramble out of the ring is the winner. But win or lose they all get eaten.
  • Birdwatching is mainly on the shore. There's a hide south of the golf course, and lots of other quiet spots along the tidal creeks. Doctors Creek is the bifurcated creek north of town, Airport and Alligator creeks are south. Remember those big tides - check times before venturing out on the flats.


Win or lose the race, the mud crabs get eaten
  • Rusty's IGA is west side of town at 52 Clarendon St, open M-F 7AM-6PM, Sa Su 8AM-5PM.
  • Woolworths is east side of town at 131 Loch St, open M-F 8AM-7PM, Sa 8AM-5PM, Su 10AM-5PM.
  • Fuel: BP Truckstop is on Loch St opposite Woolworths, open 24 hours.


  • Neaps Bistro is within Derby Lodge at 165 Clarendon St, open M-F 7-10:30AM, 5:30-8PM, Sa Su 8-11:30AM.
  • Lwoy Chinese[dead link] is at 2 Loch St by Wharfinger's House Museum, open M W-F 5-9:30PM
  • Cairo Cafe does kebabs at 2 Johnston St by the visitor centre, open M-F 11AM-8PM, Sa Su noon-8PM.
  • Spinifex and Mud Crab Motel serve meals to non-residents.


Drink lots of water against the heat, the tap water is safe.

Cafes and restaurants serve alcohol, there isn't a free-standing pub.


The jetty curls round in a horseshoe
  • 1 Dumbara Burru Caravan Park, Sutherland St, +61 499 947845. Secure site east side of town, open April-Oct.
  • 2 Boab Inn, 98 Loch St, +61 8 9191 2579. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Basic mid-town hotel, cleaning erratic. Double (room only) $140.
  • Kings Sound Resort at 112 Loch St gets miserable reviews.
  • 3 Kimberley Entrance Caravan Park, 2 Rowan St, +61 8 9193 1055. Well-run site, edge of the mud flats so check your spot and car are clear of the tides. Pet-friendly. Hook-up $55.
  • 4 Spinifex Hotel, 6 Clarendon St, +61 8 9191 1233. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Fairly basic place near the bus stop, no aircon so it's roasting in summer. Double (room only) $200.
  • Derby Lodge, 15 Clarendon St (opposite Spinifex), +61 8 9193 2924. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 10AM. Most visitors find it a friendly well-run place. They also have studio apartments and self-catering cottages. Double (room only) $200.
  • Mud Crab Motel, 4 Hardman St (opposite bus stop and visitor centre), +61 8 9102 2748. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Simple motel but clean and with great welcome and service. Double (room only) $160.


As of March 2024, there is patchy 4G coverage in town from Optus and Telstra, but nothing from Vodafone, and you'll be lucky to get any signal on the approach highways.

Go next[edit]

  • Broome 220 km west is the largest town in Kimberley, with long sandy beaches.
  • Camballin 100 km east is on the long road to Darwin. It has freshwater fishing but no accommodation, come in a camper van if you intend to stay over.
  • Gibb River Road is an alternative route east to Wyndham, a track passable by 4WD in dry season. At Wyndham you rejoin the sealed road.

This city travel guide to Derby is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.