Flying Foam Massacre remembered
A small crowd gathered at the standing stones site at King Bay on Sunday to commemorate the 148th anniversary of the Flying Foam Massacre. The 1868 killings had an almost irreversible impact on Yaburara culture, but exact numbers of how many men, women and children were killed at the hands of European settlers is still up for debate.
Traditional owners have called for more education at a commemoration of one of the worst mass killings in Australian history.
About 20 people turned out to the standing stones site on the Burrup Peninsula, where in February 1868 European settlers, angered by the killing of a police officer, his assistant and a pearler, upped arms and rode out to seek retribution against those responsible with the blessing of Roebourne’s government resident Robert John Sholl. The killing of those three men in turn was part of a rescue mission; a Yaburara man had been imprisoned for stealing a bag of flour.
Prisoner Coolyerberri allegedly speared Constable William Griffis after his fellow tribesmen freed him.
The retribution by settlers continued until May, but the number of Yaburara said to have died ranges from a dozen to nearly 200, depending on which colour of history you believe.
Yaburara and Coastal Mardudhunera Aboriginal Corpo- ration heritage officer Audrey Cosmos said it was important for the Yaburara to remember the massacre as part of their ancestry.
“It has taken a big chunk of our culture and what would have happened back in those days living off the land … we’ve lost that and it is hard to bring it back,” she said.
“Men, women and children were massacred right here for three months.
“It was quite a big, horrific event that took place … I think people should be made more aware of it.”
Ms Cosmos said it was pleasing to see local companies commemorating the event after Toll Energy held a minutes silence last Friday.
Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Craig Bonney said to have the Yaburara people share this story of hardship was special.
“The people out there that aren’t related to or connected to country don’t understand the story of the country,” he said.
“If we continue to share it … you’ll be able to get it out there in the broader community.”
YACMAC continue to promote the Stand Up For The Burrup campaign for world heritage listing during a commemoration of a massacre that occurred in 1868.