Hazards and History on the Western Australian Coast: The ‘Pearling Fleet Disaster’ of 1887

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapter


The ‘Pearling Fleet Disaster’ on the Western Australian coast in April 1887 is one of the most significant disasters in Australian colonial history. This chapter revisits the disaster and its legacy, focusing on its impact on Broome, the port settlement that developed rapidly after 1887 to become one of the world’s largest pearling ports. It argues for the cyclone’s lasting influence on the character and lifestyle of Broome’s maritime society and points to the role of natural hazards in shaping adaptations to the coastal environment across the Indian Ocean at large. By placing the disaster in this context, the chapter also addresses the question of Australia’s place in the history of the Indian Ocean.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIndian Ocean Histories
Subtitle of host publicationThe Many Worlds of Michael Naylor Pearson
EditorsRila Mukherjee, Radhika Seshan
Place of PublicationLondon and New York
PublisherRoutlege, Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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