Shipwreck Databases Western Australian Museum


The Nautilus was a pearling ship that seems to have disappeared and then appeared at intervals during the 1860’s and 1870’s. It was known to have been blown ashore at Nickol Bay by the cyclone of 4 January 1868 and was refloated for the following season, but then disappeared in April 1869. Although then presumed lost, she turned up again at the Fortescue River in 1875. While the Nautilus was stuck in the Nickol Bay mangroves in 1868, her master, Mr Jarman had set up camp nearby. Some Aboriginals were involved in an incident, stealing flour from one of the other pearling vessels, the Pearl. A police constable with an Aboriginal assistant was sent to arrest the Aboriginals responsible for the theft. They caught one of them, Coolyerberri. A crew member from the Nautilus who had also set up camp in the mangroves allowed the constable and his assistant to share his tent. Meanwhile, the other Aboriginals decided to free Coolyerberri and attacked during the night, killing the constable, his Aboriginal assistant Peter , and George Breem. Meanwhile, Jarman, the master of the Nautilus was not in his tent at the time of the attack, and was not seen again. It was presumed he had also been killed. This was an important incident in the history of Aboriginal/European relations in this area. Just a few years prior to this event, Europeans settling in the area remarked at how peaceable the Aboriginal population was. Robert Sholl, the Government Resident organised a posse of special constables. This was made up of pastoralists and other members of the white community. It is estimated that they tracked down and killed about sixty Aboriginal men women and children and the incident became known as the ‘Flying Foam Massacre’.

Associated Tribe Jaburrara

Contact Evidence Verified

Type of contact Confrontational

Year 1868

Nationality Australian

Location Nickol Bay

Source European