If you rotate Australia slightly, you will see that it looks as though it would fit fairly snuggly into the eastern curve of the African continent. According to the theory of plate tectonics, that is, in fact, precisely where Australia started out. Aside from shape, another bit of evidence of the one-time proximity of these two continents is the local flora, particularly acacias and boabs. Acacias are primarily found in Australia and Africa. Boabs are only found in Australia and Africa—though they are called baobabs in Africa.

Most of Australia’s boabs are located around the town of Derby, in the extreme north of Western Australia. The trunk of the boab is bulbous, and one famous boab was large enough to serve as a makeshift jail during the early days of settlement out west.

The limbs of the boab are generally leafless, which, combined with the bulging trunk, gives the tree a most unusual appearance. Aboriginal legend tells that the boab tree was once tall, proud, and beautiful. However, the tree’s conceit and air of superiority when comparing itself to other trees angered the spirits, and they bewitched the tree so that from that time forward it would grow upside-down. When you hear the legend, then look at the boab, you can’t help being amused at how utterly the tale suits the tree—it really does look like it has been uprooted and stuffed head first into the ground.

Boab, Western Australia

1 Comment

Filed under Australia, Geography, Lore, Nature, Photography, Travel

One response to “Boabs

  1. Erica Johansson

    Interesting facts. Your book “Waltzing Australia” seems interesting too.

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