The final leg of your journey will see treat you to two quite different coastal locations. That’s right, after the long inland drive you’ve finally made it to the west coast. Both Derby and Broome have intriguing landmarks and fascinating history to discover which will keep your road trip interesting right to the end.
Ancient trees, massive tides and a quirky festival all characterise this town, which although not overly large is still among the three biggest settlements in the Kimberley region. One of Derby’s hidden gems for art fans is the Norval Gallery. Even if you don’t consider yourself an art aficionado, this is great place to see genuine indigenous art and the owners are famously friendly - you can even buy a piece to take home if you like.
Without doubt the most famous attraction in Derby is the Boab Prison Tree. By this point in your journey, you will have seen countless boab trees, but none quite like this. This 1,500 year old tree with a hollow centre was once used as place to keep prisoners locked up overnight and although visitors aren’t permitted inside as this is now a registered indigenous site, heading seven kilometres out of town to see this distinctive and ancient tree is well worth the trip.
Visitors who are lucky enough to be in town for the Derby Boab Festival, are in for a real treat. Mud football, watermelon seed spitting and a Mardi Gras are just a few facets of this lively event - it’s normally held in the middle of the year, so be sure to check the dates to see if you’re able to make it to Derby in time for the unique attractions of the Boab Festival.
As strange as it may sound, the tides are also a major feature in here. Derby has the highest tides in the country, with the difference between high and low tides reaching as much as 11.8 metres. This makes for some fairly bizarre sights along the coastline at low tide, as wharfs and jetties tower above the wet sand below.
Once you’re ready to head on to your final destination, head south out of Derby until you once more join up with the Great Northern Highway. The whole drive will only take you about two and a half hours.
The last stop on your epic Australian wilderness road trip is more than just an end point, so make sure you set aside at least a little bit of time to explore Broome. Cable Beach is one spot that you have to head down to - not only is this a truly stunning sandy beach that boasts remarkable sunsets, but you can see it all from camelback. That’s right, there are three different companies that offer camel treks across the sands of Cable Beach, and for those who have never tried anything like this before, it’s a must-seize opportunity which is only available at a handful of locations on Earth.
For over a hundred years Broome has been a centre for pearling, and over the years many sacrificed their lives in this dangerous profession to bring pearls to the surface. The Japanese cemetery in Broome is the final resting place for 919 of these pearlers who came to the town to take part in the booming industry and never returned, and although there aren’t any English inscriptions, this place still has a deeply peaceful atmosphere and is a mute reminder of the mottled history of pearl diving.
Check the tidal schedule while you’re in Broome to time a visit to Gantheaume Point. This is a beautiful spot at any time, but at the extreme low tide you can see 130 million year old dinosaur footprints. There’s also an abundance of plant fossils to be seen embedded in the sandstone at Gantheaume Point - yet another window into the distant past that this trip offers.
If you have the time, consider heading up the Dampier Peninsula to Cape Leveque north of Broome. An historic lighthouse rises from the Cape and marks the western entrance to King Sound. Although the area is relatively remote, it is gaining increasing popularity due to its sandy beaches. If you’re lucky, you might even see whales that have come to the area to birth, playing in the waters offshore.
On your way back to Broome those hunting for a peaceful place perfect for meditating on all that you’ve seen over the course of your trip should detour to Sacred Heart Church in the Beagle Bay Aboriginal Community. This pristinely beautiful little church with a mother of pearl altar was constructed from hay bales with a concrete exterior but few would guess without knowing ahead of time. This diminutive visual treat provides an ideal way to round off the journey for those with a penchant for contemplation.
Sooner or later, it will be time to turn in the keys to your motorhome rental and head for home but although you have to leave this unique region behind, memories of your intrepid journey from Darwin to Broome are sure to stick with you for quite some time to come.