Derby – the highest tide in Australia and 2nd in the World


Derby is a small town in Kimberly and along with Broome and Kununurra it is only the third town with over 2000 population.

Despite its size Derby offers a few things to explore. One of the most famous places to go is Derby wharf with its highest tide up to 11.8 meters. This actually places Derby as the second highest tide in the world (after Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia).

Derby - the highest tide in Australia
Derby - the highest tide in Australia

The good thing about it is it is a round wharf where you can drive around, park your car and start fishing. Derby wharf was the highest tide wharf we have seen so far.

Other interesting places are Wharfingers House Museum (open on request), Old Derby Gaol, Norval GalleryMowanjum Aboriginal Art & Culture Centre, Derby Pioneer Cemetery and Baob Prison Tree (this is the second prison tree in our trip – check our post from Wyndham)

Arriving to Derby

When we got to Derby we had dust everywhere so the first thing we did was to clean the trailer. Also, after so many corrugations in Gibb River Road we had broken a few things, e.g. little battery doors so we called camper service immediately to order a repair. 

It turned out that we cannot fix everything and it will be necessary to go all the way to Perth to do it. Anyway, until they fixed it, the trailer was not going on any serious off-road.

Derby wharf sunset
Derby wharf sunset
Travel Spiced Life

Be prepared when offroading in remote areas. Bring spare parts and tools to do fixes on your own. There are no services around.

Old Derby Gaol

Next day, after cleaning from Gibb River Road, we visited Old Derby Gaol. This is where Aboriginal people were held back in 1906. 

The whole building looked like a bicycle shed, except the floor had chains attached to the floor, to which people were chained for the night. The overall impression was very depressing.

Derby Old Gaol
Derby Old Gaol

Fishing from Derby wharf (11.8 m highest tide)

Upon arrival at Derby, we bought the necessary fishing gear like hooks, weights and other things. We only had a rig for barramundi, and now we are talking ocean fishing!

We were told that we could fish from the pier which is up high and the crocodiles don’t reach unless you go down to the rocks.

Derby wharf
Derby wharf - I really enjoyed fishing there

In the evening Marius went to ‘wet the line’ and check the new gear. The best time to go fishing is always an hour before the highest tide. 

In the evening it was already pass the highest tide and unfortunately, the fish were not interested. Instead, he did catch a crab, but fortunately he did not take it with him. I did not know any crab recipes yet. 

Surprising catch - 5 kg Malloway

Next day, Marius went fishing at high tide again. He took a lot of cold beer with him and I think he enjoyed his time. Marius promised to be back in an hour. 

He came back after 2.5 hours and brought a huge fish! It happened to be a malloway (jew fish) and it was 90 cm long and weighed 5 kg. Simply giant.

Derby - my biggest catch - mulloway
Derby - my biggest catch - mulloway

Half of the campsite came to see it. I personally hoped that someone would tell us how to fillet the fish, but they only took pictures and disappeared!

We were struggling for a while, so a guy camping next to us came with his knife (a special one, very thin) and he separated it from bones. We had eight diner portions of one fish! Not bad.

Derby - the highest tide in Australia
Derby - the highest tide in Australia

In the evening we had a delicious dinner. We haven’t eaten such fresh and tasty fish for really a long time. Marius on the other hand has become a campsite celebrity. Everyone knows him already. 

They constantly ask about what rig he used, what bait he used, they come with their rods. It’s funny, because this was Marius’ first real fishing experience. 

After 3 days in Derby, the next big thing on our list was Dampier Peninsula with beautiful cliffs, white sand beaches and turquoise waters.

We expected a lot!

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Pigeon Heritage Trail – it is a story of the Aboriginal tracker Pigeon who led a successful, armed rebellion against European settlers. It is a self guided trail that takes you to different places where you learn the history of Pigeon. Get more information from Derby Visitor Centre.

Wharfingers House Museum – open on request museum that holds various displays related to the town’s history. You can obtain the key from Derby Visitor Centre.

Myall’s Bore – the bore was created by a man called Mayall who sank it to a depth of 322 meters.  It is located 7 km from Derby. They claim it was possible to water a long trough for 1000 cattle at one time.

Old Cemetery – the cemetery is located in Lovegrove Street and is part of the Pigeon Heritage Trail. It has graves of first Pigeon’s victim and Aboriginal tracker ‘Larry’.

Mowanjum Aboriginal Art & Culture Centre – located 13 km from Derby it is an Aboriginal art centre that is home to unique Wandjina figures. You can meet the artist and buy paintings, prints, clothing, books or videos.

Norval Gallery – the gallery is located in the beginning of Derby, 5 km from wharf. It is Mark Norval’s work, past and present plus other artwork from local artists. Dogs are more when welcome to visit too.

Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek – located 150 km from Derby, Windjana Gorge is home to freshwater crocodiles and this is the only place in Australia it is almost guaranteed to see them. Close to the gorge is Tunnel Creek – Australia’s oldest cave system.

Read more from our post about Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek.

There is no road to Horizontal Falls. The only way to get there is by boats or seaplanes. To book a tour visit

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