Fly­ing Foam Mas­sacre in spot­light

Pilbara News - - News - Tom Zaun­mayr

A re­mem­brance ser­vice will be hosted this week­end to mark the 149th an­niver­sary of one of the dark­est chap­ters in the Pil­bara’s his­tory.

Be­tween Fe­bru­ary and May 1868, about 60 Yabu­rara peo­ple, the tra­di­tional own­ers of Mu­ru­juga, were killed by po­lice and colonists un­der or­ders from the State Gov­ern­ment’s res­i­dent Robert Sholl in what is now known as the Fly­ing Foam Mas­sacre.

The or­ders to kill were given out of ret­ri­bu­tion af­ter a po­lice of­fi­cer was speared by a party of Yabu­rara peo­ple who were try­ing to free one of their own, who in turn had been ar­rested for steal­ing a bag of flour.

These events dec­i­mated the Yabu­rara peo­ple to the point where the pop­u­la­tion could not re­cover.

The spear­ing of Con­sta­ble Wil­liam Griffis which sparked the mas­sacre was also the first recorded death in the line of duty of a WA po­lice of­fi­cer in the Pil­bara.

Yabu­rara and Coastal Mard­hudunera Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion her­itage of­fi­cer Au­drey Cos­mos said some of those in­volved in the killings, in­clud­ing the gov­ern­ment res­i­dent, Mr Sholl, had streets, bays and land­marks named af­ter them in the area.

Mrs Cos­mos said with the 150th an­niver­sary next year, now was time to make the event bet­ter known to help cap­ture the wider com­mu­nity’s at­ten­tion.

“The Bur­rup is recog­nised for hav­ing the old­est rock art in the world but also for the gas plant, the iron ore, the fer­tiliser plant and stuff like that,” she said.

“That is all well and good but to work in with the likes of Mu­ru­juga and pro­tect­ing the na­tional park, this story should be bought in as part of that.

“It was not a nice thing that hap­pened but it is the aware­ness of it that we got to get out there.”

Mrs Cos­mos said it would be good to in­clude in­for­ma­tion about the Fly­ing Foam Mas­sacre in the liv­ing knowl­edge cen­tre in the Bur­rup if those plans got off the ground.

The ser­vice will be held from 10am on Sun­day at the stand­ing stones site on the track to King Bay.

The turnoff is a gravel track on the left of the high­way head­ing north be­fore Hear­sons Cove Road.

Mrs Cos­mos en­cour­aged the public to at­tend to learn more about the his­tory be­tween indige­nous peo­ple and early Euro­pean set­tlers in the re­gion.

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