15 June 2002
The next morning we packed up and headed to Derby. The road was much better on the way out of Windjana Gorge than on the way in. After a while we turned onto the western end of Gibb River Road, which was dusty and corrugated but not nearly as bad as it was on the Eastern end near Emma Gorge. After a while we found ourselves on bitumen again. Since there was no petrol available between Fitzroy Crossing and Derby, we arrived in Derby with almost no petrol in the tank.
When we checked our email at the tourist information centre, we learned that we had permission to visit the Curtin Detention Centre. I rang the Centre and spoke briefly to a guy called Lex, who told me there were some last minute bureaucratic details to sort out.
We visited Derby wharf at low tide with the intention of returning at high tide to witness the enormous difference in the sea level, but we never got back there. We did get some idea of this from the height of jetty, which you can see in the background of the feature photo .
We went shopping to replenish our food supply which was severely depleted, and to buy some supplies for the family in the detention centre. Following Lex’s advice, we bought lots of sweet drinks and confectionery. We rang the Detention Centre one more time, and it appeared the path really was clear for our visit. It was hard to believe.
We returned to the caravan park, dusted ourselves down, and washed a couple of loads of laundry. While we were going about our business, a tagalong tour arrived. There were about 15 vehicles in the convoy. Millions of dollars worth of hardware lined up on the narrow verge of grass next to our camp, and noisy celebrations ensued. The following morning we would be setting out on the road to Broome. En route we planned to visit an Iranian family interned in the Curtin Detention Centre, which is located on the grounds of an air force base 10 km off the highway.
They don’t get many visitors out there.