Day 14

Day 14

Fitzroy to Derby

We discovered a sad story about ‘Blackbirding’ (forcing) natives to work in the pearl industry developed by Chinese business men and explorers in Broome in the 1860′s. That made a change from the previous ‘game’ of chasing the natives simply for a pastime.

Once caught, often they were imprisoned in the ‘Boab Prison Tree’ outside Derby on route to Broome, now a famous beach resort. A tree so big that 20 men were squeezed inside for the night, so the  ‘Blackbirders’ and their horses could rest.

 

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The Boab Prison Tree

Derby itself has a population of 50% native Australians, and is high on the government priority list of towns to ‘improve’. So plenty of social programs are tested and developed there, as well as huge sums set aside for social infrastructure.

Further to a delicious lunch on the jetty we visited the Aboriginie Art Centre, where the curator (who sets up these centers in many towns all over Australia) gave us a tour, explaining all about native religious and cultural beliefs transmitted through art. Louise and Rose were thrilled to get a packet of ‘ochre’ pigments (made from special colored rock) and she explained exactly how to mix them with special sap and how to apply them. The girls couldn’t wait to use them.

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