Wharfinger House Museum

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Timber house on wooden stumps, the Wharfinger House Museum in Derby, circa 1928

The Wharfinger House in Derby was occupied by the wharfinger from 1928 until 1962.

A wharfinger is a person who owns or has charge of a wharf. The house was first requested by wharfinger Camphle, however, it wan’t until the middle of 1928 before the house was completed, three wharfingers later.

Wharfinger Maguire was the first to occupy the house, paying rent 5/- per week. The house was occupied by several wharfingers through to 1962 when a new wharfinger residence was built.

The continued to be a resident for assistant wharfingers or clerks until 1976. The last resident was Bagsy Jones and it remained vacant after he passed away.

Traditional carved canoe from the Kimberley's, at the Wharfinger House Museum in Derby

The house now operates as a museum with memorabilia and history of Derby and The Point. The Point is what the area where the Wharfinger House is located at used to be called.

A tramway depot was located here too, the hub of activity from the 1880s to the early 1960s. When a ship berthed at the Derby Jetty with passengers, they would catch the tram to the depot. At one time there were 3 hotels, stores, residences, and houses of disrepute.

Wharfinger House was roughly in the middle of the Derby Jetty and The Town of Derby, where the courthouse, police station and the Old Derby Gaol. Eventually, the space between filled in to become a single town.

The coastal area was first surveyed by Captain Philip King, who gave the name Cygnet Bay to the waters after the ship Cygnet, captained by William Dampier in 1688. It later became known as King Sound. We found this interesting as we have family connections to Captain Philip King.

Derby was named after Edward Henry Stanley who was the 15th Early of Derby and Secretary for the Colonies from 1882 to 1885.

Memorabilia displays are varied with old relics of sowing machines, bottles and household items. There is also a model of the proposed tidal power plant that was designed to take advantage of the massive tides from King Sound.

Entry to Wharfinger House Museum is available by collecting a key from the Derby Visitor Centre. The hours vary during different seasons but it is generally open every day between 9am and noon, except for Sundays between October and March.

To get there:

Brown sign for Wharfinger House c. 1926 Museum

Coming from the Great Northern Hwy, continue to Derby on the Derby Hwy (continue straight ahead from Broome or turn right from Fitzroy Crossing). Follow Derby Hwy all the way into Derby, about 39km.

At the end of the Derby Hwy, continue straight ahead north from the Woolworths supermarket on Loch St. Follow Loch St for 2.5km to the junction of Jetty Rd and Elder St. The museum is on the right just before entering Jetty Rd.


Hours:Oct-Mar Mon-Fri 9am-4pm, Sat 9am-12pm, Closed Sunday, Apr-May Mon-Fri 8.30am-4.30pm, Sat-Sun 9am-1pm, Jun-Aug Mon-Fri 8.30am-4.30pm, Sat-Sun 9am-3pm, Sep Mon-Fri 8.30am-4.30pm, Sat-Sun 9am-1pm

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