A Journey Across Java – 2017

After  a succesful journey last year, Heritage Destinations are repeating their ‘Journey Across Java’ this year with another small group of interested and interesting people.

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Borobodur, the largest Buddhist monument in the world

Beyond Bali, much of Indonesia is unknown to many Australians. But in many respects, Indonesia is Australia’s most important overall relationship.  Yet the historical and cultural differences of our nearest neighbour are vast, possibly among the widest of any pair of adjoining countries.



For the traveller, opportunity knocks, and here is a frequently overlooked destination that begs exploration. Join Heritage Destinations on a 15 day tour across Java from August 18 – September 1, 2016, with Ian Burnet, the author of the recent book Archipelago – A Journey Across Indonesia, as your leader.


Indonesia is the largest archipelago nation in the world. Is extremities are six thousand four hundred kilometres apart, as far as Perth, Western Australia is from Wellington, New Zealand. Almost seventeen thousand islands both seperate and link the Indian and Pacific Oceans and contain a rich human diversity of over three hundred and fifty different ethnic groups. The people are a subtle blend of cultures that have invaded since neolithic times – Malay, Chinese, Indian, Melanesian, Portuguese, Arabian, English and Dutch. Their history is a saga of wave after wave of human migration who either absorbed earlier arrivals, eliminated them or drove them into less favorable regions such as deep forests, high mountains, or remote islands (where they can still be found today).

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The Hindu Temples at Prambanan

Our starting point is the capital Jakarta, centre for government, politics and business – the brain of Indonesia. West, Central and East Java follow including travelling by train to Bandung , Yogyakarta, and Surabaya. From Yogyakarta we will visit the World Heritage listed sites of Buddhist Borobodur and Hindu Prambanan  and we have time to explore the arts, crafts and busy markets in this the cultural heart of Java. Other interesting centres such Solo and the nearby World Heritage Listed ‘Java Man’ site at Sangiran and the centre of the former Majapahit Empire located at Trowulan are included. Our final stay is at the famous Majapahit Hotel in historical Surabaya before the tour conclusion in Denpasar, Bali .

Garden of Hotel Majapahit in Surabaya Java Indonesia. Image shot 2008. Exact date unknown.

The magnificent Majapahit Hotel in Surabaya


WEA Sydney offer interesting and worthwhile travel experiences. It’s a good time to visit some of the lesser known landscapes of one of the world’s most interesting societies.

Consider joining us on a Journey Across Java and travel with a knowledgeable WEA Sydney lecturer you can trust, who shares your values, listens to you and adds value to your journey. Please go to the Heritage Destinations website for details of the Journey:


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Old Dutch Semarang – Nederlandsch Indische



Pabrik Rokok Praoe Layar in Semarang has remained in continuous operation since the Dutch period in Indonesia. Its office building and factory in Semarang was formerly owned by the Dutch firm Maintz & Co, which provided electric power, and it shows the characteristic architecture of the Dutch East Indies of the period. Below is how it looked in 1927 and how it looks today.



One of the many brands of kretek or clove cigarettes in Indonesia, rokok Praoe Layar (Sailing Boat) was marketed as the ‘fisherman’s cigarette’ and  seems to have retained its niche market along the pantara (pantai utara) of the north coast of Java despite the inroads of the major cigarette brands. The brands visual imagery is unique and has obviously not changed since the Dutch period


The Main Enrance to the building


The window above the Main Entrance

Here is an example of the branding from the Dutch period.


And its branding today is hardly any different





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Miguel Covarrubius in Bali 2


There has been a lot of interest in the art of Miguel Covarrubius and so here are some other examples of his images of Bali, its people and the dance.


Bringing offerings to the Temple


Temple Offerings


Preparation for the Dance


Movements of the Legong Dance


Legong Dancer


The Dance


The Baris Dance


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Miguel Covarrubius in Bali

It is hard to discuss the island of Bali and its people without considering the  graphic art and ethnographic research of the Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubius.


Miguel’s artwork and celebrity caricatures had been featured in The New Yorker and Vanity Fair magazines during the 1920’s and the linear nature of his drawing style was highly characteristic and highly influential. Additionally his advertising, painting and illustration work brought him international recognition including gallery shows in Europe, Mexico and the United States.



Miguel married Rosa Rolando in 1930 and they took an extended honeymoon to Bali  where they immersed themselves in the local culture, language and customs. Miguel  began creating his iconic images of Bali and its people, and his research into their ethnography.



Balinese dance particularly caught the attention of Miguel as for every occasion there are different dances, all with vibrant gamelan music and extravagant costumes.




Miguel returned to Bali in 1933 with Rosa whose photography would become part of Miguel’s book, Island of Bali  which has never been out of print. The book and particularly the marketing for months surrounding its release, contributed to the 1930s Bali craze in New York.




The Museum Pacifica at Nusa Dua in Bali held an exhibition a few years ago when they presented a number of Covarrubius’s works on Bali collected from around the world in a major exhibition. The success of his work continues as his Offering of Fruits for the Temple sold at Christies Art Auction in 2011 for over 1 million dollars.








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Seasons Greetings and Happy New Year

Wishing the happiest of holidays for you and your loved ones.

Wishing you the best for the New Year and may all  your stars be aligned during 2017.


The Banda Islands of Central Maluku in Eastern Indonesia lie in the middle of the vast Banda Sea and far from any atmospheric pollution.This photo was taken at 2am from Banda Neira looking towards the volcano of Gunung Api (Fire Mountain).

Photo Credit to Theofrydo Boo M. Tuankotta and thanks to  Mathelda Chris Titihalawa

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Around the fishmarket at Banda Neira

The fact that on our Seatrek voyages we can sail for 10 days around the Banda Sea from Flores to the Banda Islands and not see another ship tells you how isolated these islands really are.

The pristine waters make the Banda Islands a mecca for divers who come here from all over the world and a great place to see a variety of marine life.

All the precision photos and fish names are by courtesy of Martin Truefitt-Baker and the other photos are by Ian Burnet.




Peacock Rock Cod


Unicorn Fish and Rock Cod



Bluefin Trevally


Needle Fish






Selling delicious smoked fish on a stick

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The Dutch church in Banda Neira

The church in Banda Neira was established in the 1600’s to serve the residents of the Dutch colonial occupation of the remote Banda Islands . Behind the building can be seen the summit of the volcano named Gunung Api or Fire Mountain The original wooden church was destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt in 1852 in this neo-classical style. With its solid Doric columns, white plaster and sturdy brickwork, it is a good example of a provincial Dutch-era church and is now  one of the sights to see in the tiny port of Banda Neira.


Below is a distant image of the church taken in 1925 during the Dutch colonial period. The road and the open area are still there but all the large beautiful kenari (asian almond) trees have long since gone.



It was the valuable nutmeg trees which only grew on the Banda Islands that brought European traders to this remote location. The Dutch eventually expelled the Portuguese, the English, and then the Bandanese during the ‘Banda Massacre’, after which they brought in their own planters and established a complete monopoly over the nutmeg trade. It was the Dutch East India Company or the Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) that built the church and their symbol can be seen on the flagstones at the entrance.


In 1999-2000 the Maluku Islands were hit with serious religious violence, which left thousands of Muslims and Christians dead. The idyllic Banda Islands were not spared from this violence and many Christians were driven off of the island by the Muslim majority.  During this time Bandaneira’s church was damaged but it has subsequently been restored.


Services are held at the church every Sunday even if the Christian community is now considerably reduced.


One of the historic highlights of the church are the elaborate carved tombstones of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) notables who died and were buried on the island. There are 34 of these tombstones in the church and they can be seen lining the aisle in the photos above and below.


These engraved tombstones record various important people, mainly Dutch, but also some British, who played a role in Banda’s history. Governors, ‘Perkeniers’ (Nutmeg Planters), members of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and English East India Company naval officers are all represented.


One of the earliest tombstones is that of the Governor of Banda, Willem Maetsuyker, dated 1675. Another example is that of Governor Cornelis Stull who died here in 1701.




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