Friday, July 3, 2015

Derby 25-30 June

The Gibb River Road ends near Derby and our time in Derby was to be a lazy or relaxing time after being consistently on the move for over a month. We hadn’t expected to spend quite so long there, but that’s how it worked out.

The road from Windjana Gorge into Derby was sealed for much of the way which was a pleasant change. However there were a few surprises. The first was distance the red dirt stain continued on the bitumen – several kilometres. Then there was a totally flat area which was quite a change from the hilly country of most of the Gibb River Road. One couple we met were Swiss cyclists, Luc and Sophie, who had been on the road for 5 months, the first 2 months in New Zealand. Among the cyclists we saw on the Gibb, surprisingly, they were tThe only ones we saw with a face covering.

The last time we were in Derby my recollections were of a dingy general store, a jetty and not much else. Either my view at the time was seriously flawed or Derby has changed quite a lot. The jetty is still there with a very pleasant restaurant and take-away at the jetty, where we had lunch on our first day. But there have been many changes. There is now Woolies and an IGA store, several liquor outlets, several other stores, a very good butcher who will cryovac your meat, at least 4 auto-electricians, a light industrial area, large visitor centre, a gallery, 2 caravan parks and other accommodation and a row of boabs along a green nature strip. It’s a very neat and friendly town.The jetty at sunset is the place to be as the sky continues to glow red long after the sun has set.

The mudflats are extensive and very firm
Percy the white peacock lives at the caravan park

Two urgent reasons for visiting Derby related to the car. After travelling nearly 10 000km, many on very dusty and heavily rutted and corrugated roads, the car needed a service. The car also needed a new 7 pin trailer plug because of damage, and the one on the camper itself had disappeared altogether. Despite the many auto electricians in town they were all fully booked, or didn’t have the correct plug so we ended up getting it installed with the service.

Saturday in Derby was Race day at the West Kimberley Turf Club. Although we don’t usually have any interest in horse racing, this was the event to attend. There were “local” people who had travelled a fair distance, quite a few from Broome, about 5 km away, as well as many travellers. A local bus picked up people from the caravan park, and returned them at the end. I backed 3 out of 6 winners, David was much less successful, so we came out behind, but not by very much. The “fashions on the field” was very well supported with local women dressed in their finery – fascinators, high heels and up to the minute frocks.

We toured the town and its facilities. David found the Golf Club which has several holes inside the track on the turf club, so no golf on Saturday. He was very impressed with the quality of the course. There are 2 covered outdoor basketball courts and other sporting facilities. An Aboriginal seminar addressed by the State Director of Indigenous Affairs was being held on the basketball courts and we were invited to come in and listen. We were impressed by the high level of eloquence of the delegates to this meeting and their ability to articulate their concerns. If their concerns are heeded in any satisfactory way, there should be some positive outcomes. But the road will be difficult.

Our final day in Derby was to do the Horizontal Waterfalls day trip. This was a wonderful day, with so much to see from the air and by boat. It was an expensive day, but a great experience. The company is a very well-oiled machine that makes a small fortune during the dry season.

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