Flying Foam Massacre in spotlight

Tom ZaunmayrPilbara News
Standing stones believed to symbolise the dead of the 1868 Flying Foam Massacre overlook King Bay on the Burrup peninsular.
Camera IconStanding stones believed to symbolise the dead of the 1868 Flying Foam Massacre overlook King Bay on the Burrup peninsular. Credit: WA News

A remembrance service will be held 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 seeking 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 Will-iam Griffis, which sparked the massacre, was also the first recorded death in the line of duty of a WA police officer in the Pilbara.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


Yaburara and Coastal Mard-hudunera Aboriginal Corpora-tion heritage officer Audrey Cosmos said some of those involved in the killings, including Mr Sholl, had had streets, bays and landmarks named after them in the area.

Mrs Cosmos said with the 150th anniversary next year, now was the 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 brought 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 turn-off is a gravel track on the left of the highway heading north before Hearsons Cove Road.

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

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails