Broome people have a friendly rivalry with Derby people for many reasons. They think we stole their Boab trees and they have established an imaginary boundary just west of the Fitzroy River. According to them, anything south-west of that boundary is in the Pilbara. They’re funny that Derby mob! Australia is renowned for great rivalries. There’s Sydney versus Melbourne, West Coast Eagles versus Fremantle Dockers and Benson versus Hedges. Broome and Derby have nurtured their own great Australian rivalry that covers everything from rainfall to boabs, from mudflats to Barramundi, we love to hate each other, in the nicest possible way.
It’s just 220 kms to Broome’s east and not pronounced Darby. Derby used to be the main regional town of the Kimberley region, in the 70s it was the most populated Kimberley town. All government departments had their regional offices situated in Derby along with the regional hospital. These days the situation is reversed. Broome’s population is at least four times the size of Derby and all the government head offices have shifted to Broome. It’s this power shift to Broome, that is in part responsible for the rivalry.
Derby is a great place to visit and if you are in Broome, its certainly worth the two-hour drive to get there. There’s not much in between apart from one of the world’s largest herds of brahman cattle that regularly stray across the highway from one unfenced tract of land to the other. This is a drive that demands your attention. At the halfway point there is the Kimberley Meat Company. They have an abattoir located on Yeeda Station. Free range Yeeda beef is something everyone should sample. Ninety minutes into the drive and your crossing one of the last great wild rivers in the world, the Fitzroy. Be careful at this crossing, as it’s a single lane bridge. Be sure to stop at the Willare Roadhouse for something to eat and drink. Derby mob claim this river as theirs but it’s a favoured weekend fishing spot for Broome anglers keen to catch some Barra (Barramundi) and Cherabin (fresh water prawn found in the Kimberley).
The Kimberley Art Awards and the Kimberley Photographic Awards are both hosted there. Derby has great attractions, including the Norval Gallery situated at the entry to the town. Meet Mark and Mary Norval and most times you will get the opportunity to meet Aboriginal artists and see them paint. You will see an extraordinary collection of carved boab nuts and art by Mark and Mary plus their private collection of incredible Kimberley art. Jila Gallery Cafe with its Ducati and Motoguzzi parked up in the café and meet fabulous hosts Marco and Rose. This place has great food, art and a garden alfresco café. Then there is the Mowanjum Gallery just a few kms up the beginning of the Gibb River Road. This is the home of the Wandjina, a very significant art and cultural tradition of the Kimberley. The Derby Boab Festival is on 5 – 21 July and the Derby Cup 29 June, if you're into the horse races,
Broome has Cable Beach, 22kms of pristine white sand nestled between the pindan and the turquoise Indian Ocean. Derby has the marsh, lots of kms of pristine mudflats nestled between saltwater crocodile habitat and the town. That marsh now features, a Mark Norval sculpture titled “Contemplation”. Derby is the southern gateway to the Kimberley, it’s a great starting point for an adventure up the Gibb River Road or a day trip to Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek. Derby has magnificent boabs standing tall as you drive into town. The Buccaneer Archipelago, the home of the Horizontal Falls, is on their doorstep. For information on your Derby touring options visit Jenny Kloss and the team at the Derby Visitor Centre.
Each wet season on Broome’s Facebook Noticeboard the citizens of both towns closely follow the annual rainfall so that they can boast having the most rain. Sometimes it’s the insignificant things that are important! While Broome has the great range and diversity of bars, café’s and restaurants, only in Derby can you find Jila Gallery Café.
While there is great rivalry between the two towns, we are jointly parochial about the Kimberley. Derby people do have one thing over their Broome cousins though. If you live in Derby, as the joke goes, at least you can go to Broome for the weekend! Its #SoBroome to visit Derby.
Feature Image: Contemplation on Derby Marsh. Courtesy Norval Gallery.