We timed our arrival to Derby around the first bout of Mud Crab Races. We rocked up at the Mary Island Fishing Club at around 4pm, grabbed a cheap beverage from the shed and sat down to soak up the atmosphere.
The purpose of the event was to raise money for a function centre in Derby. As people started rolling in, a line formed at the crab table where people could make a donation before picking a crab from a big bucket, giving it a name and hoping for the best.
There were several bouts of crab racing – each with 10 crabs. The emcee would get up each time and give the audience some ‘facts’ about the awe-inspiring King Sound Mud Crab…
The King Sound Mud Crab is related to the dinosaurs!
Mud crabs used to rule the land – even the Tyrannosaurus Rex was afraid of mud crabs!
King Sound Mud Crabs would arm wrestle with Brontosauruses!
Dinosaur fossils were created by King Sound Mud Crabs because the mud crabs were unbeaten – that’s why there are no mud crab fossils!
They are known to attack whales and they can smell blood from 100km away!
It was fun to watch the tourists and locals get in on the fun. A crab that belonged to a woman next to Juz won the third race and she was so happy that she jumped up and gave Juz a tight hug. They fired up the BBQ and offered burgers and such, and you could also stick around for some free mud crab samples.
Derby is about 220km north east of Broome and is the entrance to the Kimberley. Along with Broome and Kununurra, it is one of the three towns in the Kimberley with a population over 2,000 and about half of the residents are of Aboriginal descent.
We went straight to the Information Centre for news on road conditions, before spending the rest of the morning in a great second hand book shop, picking out books to swap for some old ones that we had in the Troopy.
It took an hour or two to explore the town, and after checking out the Friendly Trees and filling up on fuel, we hung about at the pub, waiting for the Mud Crab Races to start, and met a great welsh chick behind the bar who is travelling around the country with her boyfriend.
The Derby Wharf
Built in 1964 to replace the old jetty, it served as a port for pearls, wool, live cattle, fuel, oil and other previsions, but these days it’s a great place to watch the sunset and do a spot of fishing. It’s also the place where you can experience the extreme tidal variations, with the highest tide recorded reaching 11 metres! One thing that is definitely not good to do at the wharf is swimming! There are big signs near the water warning people to beware of saltwater crocodiles.
At the entrance to the Wharf is the Centenary Pavilion, with a beautiful mosaic that was installed in 2001. The mosaic is a collaborative effort of 370 kids and adults who spent about 700 hours laying down the 30,000 pieces.
The Boab Prison Tree
Derby is packed with boabs, but none other like the Prison Tree. This big fat boab is believed to be around 1500 years old and was used as a checkpoint when transporting prisoners to Derby from the various parts of the Kimberley.