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Derby
Western Australia
BoabPrisonTree.jpg
Local legend claims this boab tree near Derby was 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
Derby
Derby
Coordinates 17°18′20″S 123°38′02″E / 17.30556°S 123.63389°E / -17.30556; 123.63389Coordinates: 17°18′20″S 123°38′02″E / 17.30556°S 123.63389°E / -17.30556; 123.63389
Population 3,325 (2016 census)
Established 1883
Postcode(s) 6728
Elevation 8 m (26 ft)
Location
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 ( DUR-bee) is a town in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. At the 2016 census, Derby had a population of 3,325 with 47.2% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent. 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 differential between low and high tide reaching 11.8 metres (39 ft).

History

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 were housed at Royal Australian Air Force Base Curtin, however the detention center was closed in 2014.

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

In 1968 the town had a population of approximately 1,500 many employed at the meatworks. A A$900,000 beef road from Glenroy Station to Derby was completed the same year to assist with the development of beef processing. A A$2 million steel and concrete jetty was built in 1965 to provide adequate port facilities for the shipment of live cattle.

Culture

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.

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 located in Derby. The school provides education to islolated Primary-aged children living on cattle stations and in remote Aboriginal communities scattered throughout the 423,517 square kilometres Kimberley region.

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.

Climate

Derby has a hot semi-arid climate with a short, highly variable wet season lasting from late December to March. The wet season features hot, humid days and nights and erratic downpours. Some years there is no wet season whatsoever, however in others more than a years worth of rain can fall in a month. Derby can be affected by severe tropical cyclones from time to time. The dry season lasts from April to November and features very little rain, warm to hot daytime temperatures and mild to cool nights. Extreme temperatures have ranged from 48.4 °C (119.1 °F) to 6.0 °C (42.8 °F), while the wettest month on record was January 1917 when 803.6 mm (31.64 in) of rain fell.

Climate data for Derby
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 45.2
(113.4)
43.8
(110.8)
42.8
(109)
42.1
(107.8)
39.4
(102.9)
36.2
(97.2)
36.7
(98.1)
39.5
(103.1)
42.8
(109)
43.4
(110.1)
47.8
(118)
45.7
(114.3)
48.4
(119.1)
Average high °C (°F) 35.0
(95)
34.7
(94.5)
35.3
(95.5)
35.2
(95.4)
32.4
(90.3)
30.1
(86.2)
29.6
(85.3)
31.7
(89.1)
34.2
(93.6)
35.7
(96.3)
36.5
(97.7)
36.2
(97.2)
33.9
(93)
Average low °C (°F) 25.9
(78.6)
25.6
(78.1)
25.2
(77.4)
22.7
(72.9)
19.2
(66.6)
16.2
(61.2)
14.7
(58.5)
16.2
(61.2)
19.4
(66.9)
23.0
(73.4)
25.5
(77.9)
26.4
(79.5)
21.7
(71.1)
Record low °C (°F) 17.1
(62.8)
19.4
(66.9)
18.8
(65.8)
13.9
(57)
9.6
(49.3)
6.9
(44.4)
6.0
(42.8)
8.0
(46.4)
12.4
(54.3)
14.0
(57.2)
18.8
(65.8)
20.3
(68.5)
6.0
(42.8)
Rainfall mm (inches) 181.7
(7.154)
157.3
(6.193)
108.9
(4.287)
31.0
(1.22)
22.1
(0.87)
10.4
(0.409)
5.9
(0.232)
1.3
(0.051)
0.3
(0.012)
2.5
(0.098)
16.2
(0.638)
83.1
(3.272)
620.7
(24.437)
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 11.8 10.6 7.9 2.4 1.4 1.0 0.5 0.1 0.1 0.5 1.9 6.5 44.7
Source: Bureau of Meteorology
  • Derby's history at a glance: A chronology of Derby history, 1688-1992. Boab Babbler, 26 February 1993, p. 20

Economy

There is employment in the pastoral and mining industries, as well as administration and tourism. There is oil at Blina, diamond mining at Ellendale. Granite is quarried from the Wunaamin-Miliwundi Ranges and lead and zinc from Cadjebut and an iron ore mine at Koolan Island. A major mineral sands mining project is being developed at Thunderbird, 100 kilometres (62 mi) west of Derby. In 1997 the Derby wharf, which was closed in the 1980s, was re-opened for barging operations for the export of lead and zinc.

Tourism bolsters the local economy between the months of May and September.

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

Notable people

  • Vinka Barunga, who grew up in Mowanjum and Derby, graduated from the University of Western Australia with an MBBS in 2016, and is the first Worrora doctor and the first Aboriginal doctor in Derby.
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