Thursday 14 August 2014

Flying Foam Passage

Natural gas port facilities, Dampier
Ominously named stretch of water we need to navigate to head north out of Dampier. It’s actually named after a boat which first surveyed it. Good thing about Ore carriers is that they take days to load and they wait days anchored in the roads so the actual traffic is not busy, we have a chance of sailing up the harbour, against wind and tide, without being run over.. It was another hard slog, making good only 2.5 knots for the day, anchoring in Flying Foam Passage.

Flying Foam passage ahead

The passage is a strait between some islands, one of them, named Dolphin Island has a dark history.

It started with a theft of a bag of flour from a pearling ship in 1868. The Dolphin Island/Burrup penninsular tribe had no contact with European settlers till only 3 years previous. As with most indiginous cultures around the world, the concept of property ownership didnt really exist, beyond everything is communally owned by the tribe, directly clashing with British law, which is mostly about protection of private property. The local constable found the perpetrator and chained him to a tree. His fellow tribesmen rescued him, speared the constable and two pearling ship crewman, killing both. As with most colonial settlers around the world, the townspeople from Roebourne feared being massacred by tribesmen, so when the call came to hunt and “arrest” the perpetrators, they shot them instead. The entire tribe. 60 to 100, many shot while fleeing on floating logs across the strait. Thus one tribe and it’s language wiped out forever.

Dolphin Island in the distance
Dolphin Island, iron out crops all over.

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