Derby, Western Australia

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Western Australia
This boab tree near Derby was actually used as a prison, hence the name the "Boab Prison Tree"
Derby jetty King Sound.JPG
Low tide at the Derby wharf on King Sound
Derby is located in Western Australia
Coordinates 17°23′0″S 123°41′0″E / 17.38333°S 123.68333°E / -17.38333; 123.68333Coordinates: 17°23′0″S 123°41′0″E / 17.38333°S 123.68333°E / -17.38333; 123.68333
Population 3,093 (2006)[1]
Established 1880s
Postcode(s) 6728
Elevation 8 m (26 ft)
LGA(s) Shire of Derby-West Kimberley
State electorate(s) Kimberley
Federal Division(s) Durack
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
33.9 °C
93 °F
21.7 °C
71 °F
622.4 mm
24.5 in

Derby (/ˈdɜrbi/ DERR-bee)[2] is a town in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. At the 2006 census, Derby had a population of 3,093, with about half of Aboriginal descent.[1] Along with Broome and Kununurra, it is one of only three towns in the Kimberley to have a population over 2,000. Located on King Sound, Derby has the highest tides in Australia, with the peak differential between low and high tide reaching 11.8 metres.[3]


During World War II, Derby was bombed by Japanese planes because of an air base and jetty that was steadily used by Australian forces. More recently, refugees are housed at Royal Australian Air Force Base Curtin, which is located to the south of Derby.

Derby was famous in the 1920s as the terminus of the first scheduled aviation service in Australia, West Australian Airways Ltd. They began their service with a first flight on 5 December 1921. At one time the Perth to Derby service was the world’s longest passenger airline route.


Derby is rich in cultural diversity, with the local Indigenous culture playing a large part in the community. The Mowanjum Festival is held annually at Mowanjum Community and features a showcase of traditional art.

The Boab festival is a week long festival that includes traditional events such as mud football, watermelon seed spitting, the Mardi Gras and other festivities.[4]

Historically, Derby has played a major role in the Australian Royal Flying Doctor Service for the Kimberley Region. The Kimberley School of the Air is also located in Derby.

Derby has two other schools, Holy Rosary School Derby and Derby District High School. Derby District High School follows Chris Sarra's vision of 'Stronger Smarter', which aims to raise the expectations of the school as a community.

Wharfinger’s House museum tells the story of the aviation history of the town as well as the history of the Port....


There is employment in the pastoral and mining industries, as well as administration and tourism. There is oil at Blina, diamonds in the Phillips Range, stone is quarried from the King Leopold Ranges and lead and zinc from Cadjebut. In 1997 the Derby wharf, which was closed in the 1980s, was re-opened for barging operations for the export of lead and zinc.

The Derby Leprosarium on the outskirts of the town was one of two in Western Australia that helped to contain an epidemic of the disease from the 1930s to the 1960s.[5]


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Derby (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2008-06-02. 
  2. ^ Macquarie Dictionary, Fourth Edition (2005). Melbourne, The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd. ISBN 1-876429-14-3
  3. ^ Derby tides at Retrieved 7 January 2007
  4. ^
  5. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • Derby's history at a glance: A chronology of Derby history, 1688-1992. Boab Babbler, 26 February 1993, p. 20