It is a short distance from Derby to the Curtin airbase. You pass the Prison Tree, a great boab where Aboriginal prisoners were held temporarily in the late 1800s
Further south from the Prison Tree, we came to the Curtin Airforce Base. It was here that in 1999, a detention centre was hurriedly constructed in response to the increase in numbers of asylum seekers arriving without prior government authorisation by boat. Over the years I have read, heard and seen footage of the Curtin detention centre: stories and images of abuse, unrest, and hopelessness.
In late 2002 the Curtin detention centre was closed down. Its remaining detainees were sent to the new high-tech Baxter detention centre, near Port Augusta (see Day 8)
We didn’t get to see the old detention centre. The turn-off warned us that we were entering a prohibited area. We took it anyway, but only got to the front gate which was shut. There was no need to go any further. The remoteness of the place was palpable. Another part in the government’s strategy of keeping asylum seekers well out of the sight and out of the minds of Australians.