Just south of Derby in the Kimberly region is a large, hollow boab tree known as the Boab Prison Tree. A popular tourist attraction, the tree is believed to have been used as a prison for indigenous Australian prisoners in the late 1800s, though some contest this.
Regardless of whether it was used as a prison or not, the boab is impressive. Believed to be about 1,500 years old, the tree has a huge diameter of 48 feet (14.7 meters) and has been declared a registered Aboriginal site. Local legend has it that early police patrols used the tree as an overnight lockup as a natural cell. The hole cut into the side of the tree is manmade, supporting the idea that it was used as such.
The interpretative centre nearby to the tree gives a history of interactions between early white pastoralists and the Aboriginal people, giving insights into local tensions and times the tree was used. The centre details the events of the droving days and World War II upon the town of Derby, as well as explaining the biology of this ancient tree. A short trail at the prison tree leads to a picnic area and a view of the longest cattle trough in the southern hemisphere: Myall’s Bore.
The Boab Prison Tree sits 4.3 miles (7 km) south of Derby, on the King River Road, and is protected by a fence. Visitors are requested to remain away from the tree in respect to the cultural significance of the tree and to protect it.