The Mermaid? Re-envisaging the 1818 exploration of Enderby Island, Murujuga, Western Australia

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Abstract

Archaeological surveys documenting Aboriginal petroglyphs across the Dampier Archipelago (Murujuga) discovered a depiction of a sailing ship on Enderby Island. We argue that this is a depiction of His Majesty’s Cutter (HMC) Mermaid, captained by the British naval officer Phillip Parker King in his survey of Australia’s coastlines between 1817 and 1822. Archaeological evidence and a range of historical sources are used to interpret the image as part of a suite of commemorative mark-making behaviors along the Western Australian coast by King and members of his crew. This engraved ship depiction provides additional insights into cross-cultural encounters documented by King with the Yaburara people of the Dampier Archipelago. As this occurred early in British imperial recording of Australia’s North West coastline, this provides new insights into Yaburara people’s traditional lifeways prior to the significant impacts that followed the colonization of North West Western Australia. © 2019, Copyright © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-304
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Island and Coastal Archaeology
Volume15
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2020

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