Unveiling the Mystery - How did the Boab Tree arrive in Australia?

How the Boab arrived in The Kimberley Australia

If you’ve ever seen the Kimberley Boab Tree you will understand the complete fascination and intrigue that they carry.

Each tree has their own charm, character and personality. Every local has their own favourite Boab.

There are nine different varieties of Boabs in the world, most of them are found in Madagascar while the rest are found on mainland Africa and the western edge of the middle east.

Australia has only one, the Adansonia gregorii.

El Questro Boab Tree
El Questro Boab Tree

So how did Australia – the Kimberley more specifically – come to acquire its own species?

This is something that scientists can’t agree on.

While the consensus is that the Boab did not arrive in Australia from Gondwana….

The experts can’t agree on whether the Boab arrived by ocean currents or human migration.

I love the Boab. I have four varieties in my garden, my firm favourite remains the Australian native. As a born and bred Kimberley girl I have to weigh in on the debate!

My belief is that the Australian boab arrived via Human Migration, carried by explorers out of Africa. Why? Well it comes down to these three reasons.

Milky Way Boab Tree
Ancient and Mysterious Boab Trees

1. The Aboriginal Dreamtime Story of how the Boab came to be the upside down tree and the African Creation story are almost identical. 

2. Linguistic similarities. Over the years I’ve taken an interest in these trees and have read a fair bit about them.

There were linguistic similarities between the Aboriginal boab names and the African Baobab names. That doesn’t come with ocean currents now does it?

This article from 'The Conversation' on the boabs is one of my favourites.

3. Nutrition. Do you remember how European sailors would take lemons on board long sailing trips with them, to stave off scurvy?

Lemons had a long shelf life and high Vitamin C levels. Well this is what the Boab Nut and its chalky flesh were to early African explorers.


Interesting quirks and facts 

Landi Bradshaw Photography

Landi Bradshaw Photography

The Kimberley Boab Tree is so well loved that the local Council in Kununurra and Wyndham gives each local baby a boab tree to plant and commemorate their life.

Wedding Ceremonies are often held under the towering watch of a favourite boab tree.

Kings Park in Perth hosts a huge Boab Tree that was transplanted from the community called Warmun, between Kununurra and the Bungle Bungles. At times Kimberley ex-pats organise catch-ups and their meeting point is at the big Boab.

A local Kununurra artisan sourdough baker recently incorporated boab nut flour/meal into her bread baking.

The young roots when cultivated can be eaten like a carrot and taste like a fresh, crisp water chestnut. 

All those boab trees in Broome? Weeelllll, they aren’t actually native to Broome and has all been plated or transplanted there!!

Boab nuts are carved into beautiful Art Pieces by the Indigenous people. Personally I love these as they are the original transportable canvas.

Wyndham Prison Tree

The Miriwoong name for the Boab Tree is Gerdewoon – and a really big boab tree is a Gerdewoon Ngerregoowoong.

And very sadly there is a dark history with the use of some boab trees in that some were used as prison trees to hold overnight Aboriginal prisoners along long walking routes.

Prisoners who speared cattle on their country.

If you’ve ever visited a prison tree, it’s likely that you have felt the darkness.

Thank you to Kool Kampers - Travelling Australia with Kids for this image of the Wyndham Prison Tree. 

Kimberleyland's Heritage Listed 1000 Year Old Boab Tree

Camping with Boabs at Kimberleyland 

The "Kimberleyland Boab" is a very special tree. 

Have you visited our own 'Kimberelyland Boab' Tree?

Estimated to be around 1000 years old it is also has Heritage Listing as it was used by the pioneering pastoralists, the Durack family. 

The Boab Tree was a recognised camping site for many drovers when they travelled between their Argyle Downs Station (now submerged underneath Lake Argyle) and Wyndham. 


Boab Pendant Kimberley Fine Diamonds

You can buy handcrafted Boab Tree Pendants and Earrings at Kimberley Fine Diamonds in Kununurra. They have their own workshop onsite and Argyle Diamonds can be added to them.

The Mystic of the Kimberley Boab Tree

Do you want to see a Boab Tree in person? Check out what there is to do in and around Kununurra and the East Kimberley 




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