More than meets the eye: Derby Boab “Prison” Tree, Australia

There are plenty of fascinating natural oddities found in the land down under, that will often mystify curious travelers. However, it’s always good to know more about certain attractions, instead of falling for the temptation of local myths. While attracting curious visitors due to its unique natural shape, The Derby Boab Prison Tree has been named based on a highly controversial myth, dating back to the late 1940’s.

According to the myth, the massive tree was once used as a makeshift jail for indigenous prisoners, before they were brought to Derby. However, the tale of the temporary prison has been questioned ever since the 1960’s. There has never been any concrete evidence to affirm the validity of this myth. While some tourists may find the charm in this story and may be attracted to the lore behind it, many experts have found this insulting to the indigenous community and cultural heritage.

The truth is, Boab trees are very important symbols in the indigenous religious beliefs and most were used as an ossuary, a place of storage for bones and remains of the dead. Ancestral remains were discovered within the trees as early as 1916, which could possibly indicate how the prison story may have been conjured up.


Nevertheless, the Derby Boab tree is a unique and fascinating sight to visit for curious tourists, despite its misconstrued back story. It is located along the Derby highway and can be easily accessed. However, the perimeter of the site is fenced, in order to prevent any further vandalism towards the tree.

Definitely check it out to appreciate the unique indigenous traditions and Australia’s fascinating natural landscapes.

Location: Derby, 6728, Australia


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