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Monday, June 4, 2012

BigRedBusTouringCo.com: Derby And It's Rich History

BigRedBusTouringCo.com: Derby And It's Rich History: On from Broome, with an over night stay in another of the Main Roads free camps, and here we are in Derby.  the oldest town in the Kimberle...

Derby And It's Rich History

On from Broome, with an over night stay in another of the Main Roads free camps, and here we are in Derby.  the oldest town in the Kimberley's.  Steeped in history, its a town of around 5,000 people, and services the outlying areas.

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.
 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. 

The Boab 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.

Boab Prison Tree

Termite Mound and Barry

The Water Trough

Azure Kingfisher
The Dinner Tree
 So short of being the gateway to Windjana Gorge, and Tunnel Creek, that is Derby.  Booked on the Gorge tour for tomorrow and then we will be heading on towards Fitzroy Crossing, Geike Gorge and the Bungle Bungles, Halls Creek and up towards Kununara. 

Really looking forward to this next part of our journey - a photographers paradise, and will be so good.  We come back over this way again, it will be with a totally off road set up, so that we can really get into the nitty gritty of this amazing part of Australia.

BigRedBusTouringCo.com: On The Road To Broome

BigRedBusTouringCo.com: On The Road To Broome: After a wonderful few days at DeGrey's River, it became imperative, after a short detour down to Eighty Mile Beach, to have our rear view m...

On The Road To Broome

After a wonderful few days at DeGrey's River, it became imperative, after a short detour down to Eighty Mile Beach, to have our rear view mirrors fixed, as they had almost be shaken off, so off to Broome asap.  Also  needed to make enquiries about purchasing new house batteries, as ours no longer seem to be lasting the distance, so a visit to Broome may just be a bit unhealthy for the old bank account.

An overnight stop at Goldwire rest area, which is another great overnight stop (again with 24 overnight campers) and a dump point, and this one in conjunction with another one further down the road called Stanley Rest area, are to be commended and are maintained by WA main roads - they are doing a great job providing these camps.  After all - it is a long way between towns over this way.

Arrived in Broome and located our mechanic, who couldn't fit us in for 4 days, so off to a caravan park we go.  $38 pn + a $8 pn electricity tariff!! The High season price hasn't started yet, but even heard of a caravan park somewhere over this way charging an on top tariff for dogs.......

Nice caravan park though.

Spent our first day, perusing the pearl shops, of Broome, of which nearly every second shop is consumed with pearls, so very beautiful, but take your money with you.  The historic Chine town is well worth the visit, but in particular the ope air picture theatre, with its deck chairs and the occasional jet over shooting the screen, drowning out the sound of the movie, but all just a great experience.

Staircase To The Moon Necklace

Yellow and White Pearls
A visit to Broom is not complete without the compulsory sunset shot of the camels on Cable Beach.  A photographers dream shot.  Very difficult to get that perfect shot, with hundreds of tourists down there trying to get the same thing, sitting in their chairs with drinkies taking in the scene.  Each camel train, has about 4 photographers running along side taking photos for clients as well.

Camels On Cable Beach

Sunlit Jelly Fish

That Almost Perfect Shot

The Camel Earning Every bit of his $65

Sun Setting Over Indian Ocean

Sunset On Cable Beach
History of Broome

Originally founded as a pearling port over a hundred years ago, Broome now boasts a multicultural population of many nationalities lured here by the promise of finding their fortunes.  Koepanger, Malay, Chinese, European and Aboriginal cultures have all blended to create a captivatingly friendly and flamboyant personality that is the heart and soul of Broome.
No modern discussion of Broome's history can ignore the regions indigenous Australians, historically known as the Aborigines or Aboriginals. Their claim to the lands that would become known as Dampierland, Roebuck Bay and Broome, span forty thousand years and clearly supersede that of any of the European explorers that would come later.
In 1688, when William Dampier first visited "New Holland" as the area was known to the rest of the world at the time, the first seeds were sown that would forever change the lives of the regions indigenous people. The constant and fundamental cultural clashes between the two people eventually led to the exploitation of the regions original inhabitants, especially in the early days of the pearling industry when Aborigines were forced to become skin divers for pearl shell and work aboard the pearl luggers.

The Fat Years of 1889 to 1891 saw the price of mother of pearl shell escalate to new highs and established Broome as a port often referred to as the Queen City of the North. By 1898, Broome was the principal cargo port for north Western Australia and by the First World War; the Port of Broome was second only to Fremantle.
At this time, men from the UK dominated the pearling industry at Roebuck Bay but by 1900 many had retired to England or other destinations to enjoy their fortunes. As these men disappeared, they were replaced by younger men from Victoria and New South Wales affected by the depression of the nineties.

War returned to Broome on December 8, 1941 the day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour. Australia instantly joined America in declaring war on the Japanese and almost immediately, all pearling activity ceased in Broome. Men rushed to join the war effort and the industry’s labour pool vanished overnight as Japanese residents were interred in camps.
Since Broome’s livelihoods relied heavily on the skill and experience of Japanese divers this was an economic death knell for the pearling industry and the town. The residents of Broome were suddenly faced with rounding up and interring friends and employees simply because they were Japanese. Unlike other towns Broome’s Japanese population made up a good portion of the towns inhabitants and many had been born and raised in Australia and had no ties to Japan. Although they complied with the internment policy, Broome, residents tried to make life as easy as possible for the Japanese.
The war escalated quickly and by February 26, 1942 Malaya (now known as Malaysia) and Singapore had fallen, as well as the islands of Ambon and Timor. This put the Japanese only three hundred miles north of Broome and the threat of a Japanese air attack became a reality. A defence unit was organised and the town’s aerodrome was upgraded to accommodate the largest planes and Broome became a re-fuelling station for the R.A.A.F.
In January 1942, pearlers were informed that their luggers were to be purchased and unseaworthy vessels destroyed as a provision against a Japanese landing. Shortly afterwards on March 3, 1942 Japanese Zeros strafed the aircraft in Roebuck Bay and at the aerodrome wiht machine gun fire and destroyed sixteen Flying Boat planes (Dorniers, Catalinas and Short Empire flying boats) which were refuelling after evacuating Dutch refugees from Java.
Following there were three further air raids, one on the 20th March 1942 in which one aircraft was destroyed and one person killed, and in August 1942 and August 1943 which resulted in minimal damage with no deaths or injuries.  The constant fear continued to force Broome residents to stay away and the town languished into decay. By the time the war ended, Broome was badly deteriorated and a mere shell of its former self. Residents, who did return, found little to salvage and were forced to start from scratch. But, as had happened after World War I, Broome would recover and rebuild once again. The pearling industry once again evolved and a new market in cultured pearls changed the way pearl shell was harvested forever.(Courtesy Of Broome Visitor Information Centre).

A highlight of our time in Broome was a visit to Willie Creek Pearl Farm. Very informative to hear how pearls are cultured and grown, and totally understandable as to why they are so expensive.

"Divers ‘drift’ over the oyster beds of the Australian North West coast between January and March each year to collect ‘Wild’ caught shell for use on Farm for Pearl production. As an industry we are restricted to collecting no more than 572,000 oysters of a minimum legal size of 120mm. Oyster are housed in Pearl panels and rested for a period of 4 months on a bottom lease. However, heavy investment into research by Australian companies has led to an increased production of hatchery produced Pinctada maxima with a minimum legal size of 90mm. This technique reduces the cost and hazards of collecting wild shell whilst allowing more control over oyster growth, health and production.
Hatchery and wild oysters are held in large re-circulating tanks onboard seeding vessels prior to their first operation. Oysters are relaxed and ‘pegged’ open to allow a pearl technician to perform the operation in a sterile room onboard the vessel.
Highly trained pearl technicians perform the delicate seeding operation. A small nucleus formed from the shell of the Mississippi mussel is inserted into an incision in the oysters gonad. The nucleus is coupled with a piece of nacre secreting mantle tissue. The shell is then safely housed within a protective pearl panel and placed in the ocean. Divers ‘drift’ over the oyster beds of the Australian North West coast between January and March each year to collect ‘Wild’ caught shell for use on Farm for Pearl production. As an industry we are restricted to collecting no more than 572,000 oysters of a minimum legal size of 120mm. Oyster are housed in Pearl panels and rested for a period of 4 months on a bottom lease. During their two years on a ‘farm’ the oysters are cleaned and nurtured before being examined by pearl technicians who hope to find a large and lustrous south sea pearl.
 These technicians are highly skilled and highly paid professional performing up to 500 operations a day during harvest time. They generally work for 3 months annually and can earn in excess of AU$100,000 for this period. Technicians have been predominantly Japanese however the success of the Australian industry has lead to increased diversification with Australian technicians now more common."
(Courtesy Of Willie Creek Website).

Willie Creek- Home to some very big Saltwater Crocs - see the marks on the sand?

Taking The Boat Trip

Aerial Shot of the tidal Creeks From the Helicopter

Cable Beach From The Air
Anatomy Of An Oyster

Flatback Turtle

Bringing Up The Oysters

Long Line Of Oysters

Trip to Cape Leveque

Another challenge on our journey was a trip to Cape Leveque, a 4WD track with a large majority being sandy and very corrugated. At one stage, w felt like we were driving in a creek crossing, and on our return journey, it was right here, that we met not just a semi trailer, but a road train!!! Barry drove as high up onto the embankment as we could, to let him past, but the higher we went, the more we were sliding back down. lol . Bit hairy to say the least.

The trip itself is well worth it, but another visit would see us overnight up there.  Beagle Bay we missed, as we missed the turn off, but took the walk down to Western Beach and saw the awesome red cliffs along the beach.
Further up the road is One Arm Point home to a Trouchus shell hatchery, and some wonderful green turtles and assorted other marine life,  and where we chose a spot to have lunch.

The Awesome Red Cliffs Of Western Beach - Cape Leveque

Polished Trouchus Shell
Guess Who??

Taking a Stroll Through The Waters Of Western Beach

Thought It Was a Joke!!! But They Weren't!!!!

Green Turtle

Our Lunch Spot

Meeting The Road Train

Afternoon glow of the Red Sand
Overall, a great day out, and certainly worth the visit. Just hope by the time of our next visit, they have graded the road!!!!

BigRedBusTouringCo.com: DeGrey River

BigRedBusTouringCo.com: DeGrey River: DeGrey River How lucky we were to find this piece of paradise.........and just what we needed after our experience in Port Hedland. ...

DeGrey River

DeGrey River
How lucky we were to find this piece of paradise.........and just what we needed after our experience in Port Hedland.

DeGrey's is just a small trip from Port Hedland of 83kms - registered as a 24 hour stop over, with a dump point, down down by the river is any number of wonderful sites with heaps of grass, very few sandflies or mosquitoes, and with some beautiful Brahman cattle roaming through to keep the grass down - just makes it a wonderful place to pull up stumps for a while.

The top area is listed as 24 hours, by down by the river is not so restrictive.

At one count we had over 48 camped there for the night, from all over Australia, and so friendly.  We have generally found that we make more friends in camps like this than in any caravan park, other than those in the smaller towns, and the wheatbelt towns of Koorda, Dowerin and Goomalling are great examples of this and are a wonderful example of what tourism in Western Australia should be about.

More camps like this, means more money to spend in towns and helping to prop up some of these towns.

Barry and Geoff Taking a Stroll along the River Bank

Carol Going For a Swing

A Family we Met From Lochinvar

At Eighty Mile Beach - Glenys and Gaye - two solo ladies we had quite a few Happy Hours with

DeGrey River From the Railway Bridge

DeGrey with plenty of Water

Take a Stroll Over The Railway Bridge

Catch a Mangrove Jack under the Bridge

Camp Oven Cooking The Way To Go

See You At DeGrey River