Fly­ing Foam re­mem­bered

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Ali­cia Per­era

A vista of green­ery, red rocks and the bright blue wa­ter of King Bay pro­vided a stark con­trast to re­flec­tions on a dark day in the his­tory of the Bur­rup Penin­sula at Sun­day’s me­mo­rial ser­vice for the Fly­ing Foam Mas­sacre.

About 60 peo­ple at­tended the ser­vice at the stand­ing stones over­look­ing King Bay to pay their re­spects for the 149th an­niver­sary of the mas­sacre, in which al­most the en­tire pop­u­la­tion of Yabu­rara peo­ple, tra­di­tional own­ers of Mu­ru­juga, was killed by po­lice and set­tlers over a pe­riod of months.

The mas­sacre started in Fe­bru­ary 1868 af­ter a po­lice­man was killed by a party of Yabu­rara peo­ple as they res­cued a fel­low tribesman who he had chained to a tree for steal­ing some flour.

Po­lice and colonists went on to kill Yabu­rara men, women and chil­dren in ret­ri­bu­tion and only a hand­ful sur­vived.

The to­tal num­ber of peo­ple killed is un­known but was es­ti­mated to be about 100.

Yabu­rara and Coastal Mard­hudunera Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion her­itage of­fi­cer and me­mo­rial ser­vice or­gan­iser Au­drey Cos­mos said the tragic event was of great sig­nif­i­cance for the Yabu­rara peo­ple as well as the wider his­tory of the Pil­bara.

“It’s has a big (im­pact) for me, on a per­sonal level as well as try­ing to get it done and put it out there as pro­fes­sion­ally as I can in a way that peo­ple re­mem­ber and re­spect it,” she said. “It happened that many years ago, but then when you look at it, it’s not that long ago.”

Speak­ing at the event, City of Kar­ratha Mayor Peter Long said the mas­sacre’s scale and bru­tal­ity was shock­ing even by colo­nial-era stan­dards.

“All the way from the State gov­ern­ment in Perth was (is­sued) a di­rec­tion to take set­tlers, make them special con­sta­bles, and go out and ap­pre­hend the peo­ple who had killed the po­lice­man,” he said.

“They didn’t just ap­pre­hend some peo­ple, they ac­tu­ally killed nearly the whole tribe. It was so bad, the record of the num­ber killed was ac­tu­ally scraped out from the book be­cause the other peo­ple were so shocked at how many peo­ple were killed.”

Greens Mem­ber for Min­ing and Pas­toral Robin Chap­ple said lit­tle was known about the mas­sacre but it was im­por­tant to re­mem­ber such a “hor­ren­dous” event had taken place in the Pil­bara.

“It is one of Aus­tralia’s worst mas­sacres, and we have moved on from that but we should never ever for­get the in­jus­tice that was done,” he said.

Mrs Cos­mos said she was pleased to see such a large pub­lic turnout, show­ing word about the Yabu­rara peo­ple’s his­tory was get­ting out.

“It’s recog­nised world­wide. It’s just that I think it needs to be pushed here now lo­cally, so ev­ery­one can come to­gether, black and white, to re­mem­ber it,” she said.

The ser­vice also in­cluded a call to stand up for the Bur­rup, a move­ment to reg­is­ter the Bur­rup Penin­sula on the World Her­itage List.

Mrs Cos­mos said she hoped to make the me­mo­rial ser­vice for next year’s 150th an­niver­sary even big­ger.

We have moved on from that but we should never ever for­get the in­jus­tice that was done. Robin Chap­ple

Pic­ture: Ali­cia Per­era

Mu­ru­juga Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Craig Bon­ney, Greens Sen­a­tor Rob­bin Chap­ple, Yabu­rara and Coastal Mard­hudunera Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion her­itage of­fi­cer Au­drey Cos­mos and City of Kar­ratha Mayor Peter Long at the me­mo­rial plaque for the Fly­ing Foam Mas­sacre on the Bur­rup Penin­sula.

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