a prison by any other name

I was taken prisoner by sleep deprivation last night. Today, Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues reels endlessly through my head accompanied by echoes of the acoustic instrument of torture that deprived us of the few train free hours we are ordinarily blessed with each night. The diesel motor locomotive monster scoured the rail tracks in a huge & impressive display of sparks and not so impressive display of noise… at 3am, 20 metres from our window.

 “…I hear the train a comin’
it’s rolling round the bend
and I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when,
I’m stuck in Folsom prison, and time keeps draggin’ on…”

The song brought to mind Derby, Western Australia. Why, you ask? Because of the Prison Boab tree on the outskirts. Derby is a 220km, 3 hours drive east from Broome over raw flat landscape, and mostly straight road.

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Prison Boab near Derby
The hollow tree trunk has a circumference of over 14 metres and the door is a metre wide and two metres high. It was used as a “prison cell” in the 1890s by the local police to lock up Aboriginal prisoners over night, on their way to Derby for sentencing.


6 thoughts on “a prison by any other name

  1. A train track was located above my childhood home and I was so used to the whistle stop, it never bothered me. I’ve always loved trains and the sounds they make. Of course, my guests didn’t sleep as sounding as I did. The trains’ whistle would scare the weebie-jebbies out of them in the middle of the night. LOL. Brings back memories … choo, choo!


  2. Just wandering around again today – this post reminded me of life before air conditioning – once the traffic noises grew silent, we could hear the train at night in the distance. It was always on schedule – sort of comforting. But houses all closed up now – no more night sounds.


  3. I agree, the night sounds of trains in the distance are lovely. I’ve always had a fascination with trains, and a bonus of being so close to the train line is we see the stream engines & the Indian Pacific go by, but atm they are a bit up close & personal… oh well, that’s life 🙂


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