Fly­ing Foam Mas­sacre re­mem­bered

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Tom Zaun­mayr

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.”

Pic­ture: Tom Zaun­mayr

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.

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