We’re aiming for the Tanami Desert but Derby is close, so we’re tempted to visit as neither of us have been there.
The countryside moving north is changing. Flowering wattle forests change to wide yellow grasslands populated by termite mounds, literally thousands of them, all producing methane, just as cattle do.
Now the earth changes from rust red to ochre yellow, and back again. Soon, in patches, there’s evidence of cool burning for many kilometres, but no sign of the burners. The waterways are called pools, not rivers – which fill and empty with the seasons. Then, more and more frequently as we drive, there are the boabs – those lovely fat citizens who live, some say, for thousands of years. Like other Aussies, some are fat, some slim, some tall, some very small. I fall in love with their king-like audacity, and Derby is just full of them.
Derby proves to be everything that Broome used to be – a sprawling town of simple dwellings on large blocks, a long main street scattered with shops, better on a bicycle than on foot. We take in the sunset down at the long wharf with new friends Rod and Donna whom we met back at Gnylmarung.
Then we head back to the market, selling a wide variety of local goods, including Boab Tea, and a band plays endless music.
Derby knows how to enjoy themselves – and entertain us! We dine at Neaps Bistro, which boasts a French Chef and the best food we’ve had since Sydney.
Another night we attend a free musical evening by the wonderful Terry Bennett, where he enlists the help of local storytellers and bush poets. One 88 year-old indigenous elder tells the early history of Derby, as well as how he planted all the boabs in the main street.
Yes, we have loved Derby, but now we’re heading back inland, towards the desert…
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