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One of the things I loved about North Western Australia and The Kimberley was the boab trees. For some reason they exemplified The Kimberley region and had this mysterious quality about them.
You see every boab tree is unique. They have character and personality as you would expect of such an ancient creature. Some individual boab trees are 1500 years old and older, which makes them the oldest living beings in Australia, and puts them amongst the oldest in the world.
Aboriginals used the giant boabs as shelter, food and medicine. For the white settlers they served as easily recognisable land marks and meeting points, and not to forget as impromptu prison cells.
The Australian boab tree (Adansonia gregorii) is related to the Madagascan and African Adansonia species known as baobabs. Like its relatives it is sometimes called a “Bottle Tree”, due to their bottle shape, but in Australia we like to call them boabs.
They are extremely slow growing and it takes hundreds if not thousands of years to grow into an impressive specimen. At most they reach 15 metres high, but their trunks can better that with a circumference of up to 20 metres.
My first sighting of a boab tree was actually in The Pilbara at a ghost town called Cossack near the mining town of Wickham.
The coastal, pearling and tourist town in The Kimberley region of Western Australia, Broome has hundreds of boab trees lining its streets and the historic Broome Courthouse has some magnificent specimens.
The famous Prison Boab near Derby WA has a hollow tree trunk which is over 14 metres in circumference and the opening is a 1 metre wide and 2 metres high. It was used as a “prison cell” in the 1890s by the local police to lock up Aboriginal prisoners overnight, on their way to Derby for sentencing.
Whilst we were in Derby we watched the local Aborigines use boab tree nuts for carvings and paintings. When the dark surface of the boab nut is scratched away it reveals a light colour underneath so a pattern or image can be etched into the oval shaped nut.
Departing Derby for the long trek across The Kimberley on the Great Northern Highway we saw many fine specimens along the roadside. Including one of the biggest boab trees I saw on my travels at a rest stop along the way. We stopped here and enjoyed morning tea and a chat with fellow-travellers.
We ventured off the Great Northern Highway onto a gravel road, the Leopold Downs Road which connects the Great Northern Highway with the Gibb River Road. You can use it to cut across from one to the other and visit Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge on the way. We however were looking for a camping spot we heard about at an abandoned RAAF Quarry. We were not disappointed as it had fresh water in the disused quarry where we enjoyed a refreshing swim and the quarry was dotted with beautiful boabs.
Once we had driven the 900 kms through the Kimberley on the Great Northern Highway we reached Wyndham. Here we camped at Parry Creek Farm around 20kms outside of Wyndham. We saw many more boabs in and around Wyndham including the largest boab in captivity at the Caravan Park.
Lastly, but not by any means least, we visited Kununurra and the magical Lake Arygle, which is a massive man-made lake that dammed the Ord River system. Here we stayed lakeside at the Lake Argyle Caravan Park and took in the beauty of this awesome place.
I will leave you with this captivating image of Lake Argyle, the last stop before leaving the Kimberley region for the Northern Territory. Breathtaking!
For more posts on The Kimberley region see Swept away by Broome, Kimberley Dreaming and East Kimberley
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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Pinky PoinkerAugust 15, 2015
When I was young our father decided to take the inland route from Townsville down to visit the grandies in Sydney and we saw a lot of bottle trees for the first time. They’re beautiful in a strange way aren’t they!
KathyAugust 15, 2015
I had never seen a boab until I travelled to North Western Australia. So I am learning something new. I agree that they are uniquely beautiful. I was a little obsessed with them actually!:)
malaysianmeandersAugust 16, 2015
Growing up in Texas, boab trees were part of our Australia unit at school. I remember having to cover Coke bottles with brown tape and adding branches. I didn’t realize that the trunks got that wide or that one could even be used as a prison cell. So interesting.
KathyAugust 16, 2015
They are indeed a very interesting tree. For some reason they intrigued me and I couldn’t stop take photos of them. They are used very widely as an emblem for the far north of Western Australia. :)
JoAugust 16, 2015
I agree Kathy, they are such interesting trees.Each one unique. I can remember seeing some on our Kimberley trip that resembled ballet dancers ;) Such funny upside down trees. In Africa there’s one which has a long drop loo in it! We used to call them Baobab trees.
KathyAugust 16, 2015
Ha ha fancy having a loo in a boab tree! I suppose if they used one as a prison then you could certainly use one as a loo. Fascinating trees. The only other place I saw some was coming across the Central Highlands in Outback Queensland and I thought it very strange that they grew here. :)
budgettraveltalkAugust 16, 2015
What I love about the boabs is their individuality. They are like people with their different shapes, sizes and lives. I love the sunset behind the boabs photo. We drove from Perth to Townsville “over the top” thirty years ago and they look the same now as then which is a wonderful thing. :)
KathyAugust 17, 2015
Boabs are very individual and I think that is why I was so obsessed with them. I also love that they are so ancient. If they could speak they could tell some very interesting stories! :)
FairlieAugust 17, 2015
I love boab trees – they’re just so bizarre and also soooo old. My parents had some carved boab nuts in the house when I was a child and I was fascinated by them. They seem almost prehistoric.
KathyAugust 17, 2015
I had never seen an actual boab tree until we travelled over to North Western Australia, but they seem to be used as an emblem for this part of Australia on everything from boab nuts, t-shirts and souvenirs. The really old boabs were fascinating. I must admit I fell in love with them. :)
Michela FantinelAugust 21, 2015
Love Boab Trees…I went recently on a Kimberley Tour and saw many of them. :-)
KathyAugust 21, 2015
Aren’t Boabs the best? I loved photographing these magnificent trees as they were all unique and different in shape, size and colour. Thanks for visiting my blog :)
Malinda (@MBPaperPackages)August 21, 2015
I haven’t actually been to this part of Australia yet so this was a great insight, thanks. Boab trees are so captivating aren’t they.
Thanks for joining in #wednesdaywanderlust this week
KathyAugust 22, 2015
Malinda do yourself a favour and go to The Kimberley and the north west of Australia. It was one of the most eye-opening and amazing trips I have ever been on. We really do have some of the most fascinating places right here in our own country! :)
Red Nomad OZSeptember 7, 2015
I fell in love with the WA Boabs too, Kathy!! I saw an awesome pair of coloured glass earrings with boab tree silhouettes in Halls Creek, but foolishly I didn’t get them. I still regret it!!
KathySeptember 8, 2015
They just exemplify that part of Australia, don’t they? I loved their different shapes, colours and sizes and the way they reflect light. Beautiful specimens! Those earrings would have been awesome.