The Dukono Volcano on Halmahera

When our Coral Expeditions cruise arrived in the town of Tobelo on the northwestern arm of the island of Halmahera in October 2018, the Dukono volcano was erupting ash. This should not have been a surprise since research shows that the volcano has been erupting almost continuously  since 1978.

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The Dukono volcano as seen from the Coral Discoverer

A rift in the earth’s mantle has caused a sea floor spreading zone between the islands of Sulawesi and Halmahere, causing subduction and related volcanic activity along the edge of both islands. There are sixteen volcanoes on the Halmahera volcanic arc, many of which are still active, and an equal number along the Sangihe volcanic arc.

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This seafloor map shows the central ridge, like the larger mid-Atlantic ridge, formed by the intrusion of oceanic magma. This intrusion causes spreading of the sea floor and the related subduction zones are shown by the seafloor trenches developed on each side of the central ridge . The water filled sediments that are subducted into the earths interior then become superheated, melt the surrounding rocks, and cause the volcanic activity.

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The related volcanoes can be best seen on this topographical map of Halmahera which shows a line of volcanoes formed along the western side of the island, including the clove islands of Ternate, Tidore, Moti and Makian which are offshore.

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The Dukono volcano is only 10 km from the town of Tobelo. While we were there it was continuously erupting ash, but fortunately the wind was blowing to the northeast and away from the town.

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The Dukono volcano as seen from the town of Tobelo

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A closer view of the erupting Dukono volcano

 

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The Sir William Dixon bronze doors at the Mitchell Library

Inspired by the style of doors that graced the entries of some of America’s most significant public buildings, the bronze portico doors at the entrance to the Mitchell Library in Sydney illustrate various elements of Australian history. Principal librarian William Ifould recognised that the doors were ‘somewhat of a luxury’ and approached benefactor Sir William Dixson to donate the doors in honour of the Library’s other great benefactor David Scott Mitchell.

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The central doors honour European explorers of Australia; the left side shows the navigators who explored Australia’s coast and the right side, the explorers who travelled inland (the individual panels identify each explorer by name). The reliefs on the bordering doors were originally planned to depict the various arts and sciences represented in the Library’s collection, but the principal librarian William Ifould rejected the concept in favour of panels illustrating scenes from the lives of the Australian Aboriginal people.

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Planning for the doors began in the early 1930s, however Ifould’s vision for ‘a beautiful pair of bronze entrance doors’ quickly became embroiled in controversy. Much debate focused on the subject matter, particularly the Aboriginal panels, which some thought should feature portraits of governors. True to form, among the critics of Ifould’s vision for the doors was the Daily Telegraph, which commented, ‘Mr Ifould is an excellent librarian, but is he capable of judging a piece of sculpture?’

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The bas reliefs of aboriginal figures were undertaken by seven sculptors including Queensland sculptor Daphne Mayo, Ralph Walker, Frank Lynch and E. Lenegan and the images of the aboriginal figures were taken from photos in the library’s collection.

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Dr John Vallance and Library staff participating in the smoking ceremony

A traditional aboriginal smoking ceremony was held on October 19, 2019 outside the Mitchell Library as part of the Open Day ceremonies for the State Library NSW.

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Elder Les Daniel conducting the smoking ceremony

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Elder Les Daniel and the bronze doors

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The Dutch Prime Minister and the Tasman Map

 

Mark Rutte

The Prime Minister of the Netherlands is appointed as an Honorary Companion of the Order of Australia

The Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mr Mark Rutte, spent three days on a working visit to Sydney and Melbourne from 9 to 11 October 2019.

Mr Rutte’s busy schedule began at Admiralty House where he was appointed an Honorary Companion of the Order of Australia for his exceptional leadership to establish the MH17 Joint Investigation Team.

He then met with Prime Minister Morrison for bilateral talks, which included discussions on MH17, strengthening the trade and investment relationship, the circular economy and opportunities for closer international cooperation.

Later in Sydney, Mr Rutte toured the State Library of New South Wales to view items of Dutch-Australian heritage. He also attended business events at the Sydney Opera House, met with the Premier of New South Wales and delivered a keynote speech at the Lowy Institute where he said:

“I believe that Australia and the Netherlands should work closely together in pursuing that goal. I believe that for many reasons. Because we share a long history, going all the way back to the early 17th century, when the Dutch ship Duyfken – the little pigeon – landed in northern Australia.

It was a wonderful experience yesterday at the State Library of New South Wales to see the maps and journals documenting these first encounters between Australia and Europe”.

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Prime Minister Rutte viewing the Tasman Huijdecoper manuscript at the State Library with the Tasman Bonaparte Map in the background.

Prime Minister Rutte visited the State Library of New South Wales where State librarian Dr John Vallance welcomed PM Rutte in the Mitchell Vestibule with the Tasman Map mosaic floor. PM Rutte was also able to closely observe the original Tasman Map, one of the State Library’s most valued possessions, along with the Huijdecoper manuscript by Tasman and Blaeu’s Atlas Major.

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Prime Minister Rutte being welcomed in the Mitchell Library vestibule with the magnificent marble mosaic of the Tasman Map

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THE GLOBE – Tasman Map Book Review

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The Tasman Map , also known as the Bonaparte Tasman Map, is a prize possession of the Mitchell Library in Sydney. It was bequeathed to the Library, though in a rather roundabout fashion explained in detail in Chapter 27, by Prince Roland Bonaparte. President of the Geographical Society of France and grandnephew of Napoleon I. Compiled over the period from 1606 to 1644, the Tasman Map shows Australia and some neighbouring islands. It was drawn in Batavia either by or under the direction of Isaac Gilsemans, who had been supercargo on the Zeehaen travelling with Tasman in his voyage on the Heemskerk in 1642/43 during which some of the major features of the Tasman Map were charted. It is hand-drawn on Japanese paper. The map is also displayed as a mosaic in marble on the vestibule floor in the Mitchell Library.

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The subtitle of ‘The Biography of a Map’ is a very apt description of the way the story of the construction of the Tasman Map is presented. The Tasman Map is the compilation of sixteen separate discoveries in the Australia-East Indies region beginning with the Portuguese in the sixteenth century. Each of the cartographic steps is presented with detailed accounts of the people involved. Including their personal lives and their roles in the processes that brought traders from Europe to the East Indies. This is the ‘biography’ of the map and it gives the book extra substance and makes for a rich reading experience.

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An interesting feature of this book is that it raises for the reader many ‘What if’ questions about the discovery, mapping and settlement of Australia. What if one of the Dutch attempts to sail through what is now the Torres Strait had been successful and they had discovered and mapped the east coast of Australia? What if Tasman had sailed directly north after leaving Tasmania and encountered Australia’s eastern coast rather than New Zealand? What if the VOC had been run by a more inquisitive group? For me, one of the interesting outcomes of reading this book is the realization that this period of exploration of this part of the world was driven almost exclusively by commercial considerations.

Ian Burnet has presented a detailed and authoritative account of the construction of the Tasman Map and its subsequent history. But he goes a lot further than that. The depth of the social and political history contained here is impressive in the way it provides an insight into the contemporary conditions and the people involved. I have enjoyed reading it and learnt a great deal.

Brian Finlayson, School of Geography, University of Melbourne.

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The Tasman Map – A short documentary

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The marble mosaic of the Tasman Map in the vestibule of the Mitchell Library

Follow the link to watch a short video (5minutes) from the State Library of NSW on the history of the Tasman Map

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuTRL9qSrmI

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‘Ian Burnet in this stunning volume brings alive the many voyages of discovery that linked the exploration and Dutch conquest of Indonesia to a growing awareness on the part of the Dutch of the great, but as yet unknown, land to the south. Burnet, chapter by chapter with stunning illustrations and reproductions of early maps, has managed to document the many voyages from Europe to the “far east”.

Most of us will have heard of parts of Burnet’s story, whether it is of figures such as Francis Drake, Dirk Hartog or Abel Tasman, or of place names which reflect historical moments in our history, such as the Gulf of Carpentaria, Arnhem Land, Groote Eylandt, Rottnest Island, or Maatsuyker Island. But other parts of his story will be new to many.

This is a book to savour and to learn from and which will serve as a reference to many a historical event of relevance to both Indonesia and Australia’.

Dr. Ron Witton – Inside Indonesia

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The Tasman Map – Book Review

Ian Burnet, The Tasman Map – The Biography of a Map: Abel Tasman, the Dutch East India Company and the first Dutch Discoveries of Australia, Rosenberg Publishing Pty Ltd, 2019

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Having grown up in Sydney, I can remember as a student visiting the Mitchell Library in the 1950s. My memories are of a large and impressive reading room but I must confess that I paid little attention as to how I arrived in the reading room after passing through the front entrance. I now realise that to do so, I had to traverse one of the most remarkable sights in Australia: a mosaic of the Bonaparte Tasman map in the vestibule:

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The marvellous marble mosaic Tasman Map in the vestibule of the Mitchell Library

This map graphically illustrates the voyages of Abel Tasman and how his voyages of discovery produced the first recognisable image of the Australian continent. What is of particular interest to me, given my interest in Indonesia since my student days, is that this pictorial record Tasman’s voyages south from the Dutch East Indies demonstrates how interlinked are the early histories of Europe’s voyages of discovery to Indonesia and Australia.

Ian Burnet in this stunning volume brings alive the many voyages of discovery that linked the exploration and Dutch conquest of Indonesia to a growing awareness on the part of the Dutch of the great, but as yet unknown, land to the south. Burnet, chapter by chapter with stunning illustrations and reproductions of early maps, has managed to document the many voyages from Europe to the “far east” by way of both the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn that managed to create in Europe a global awareness of the world. It is a tale of the rise of English and Dutch mercantile capitalism, and the subsequent decline of the Portuguese and Spanish feudal empires, the many ways that the “east” and the “west” interacted, the fortunes that were made, the horrors that many ordinary people experienced, and the way the foundations of the modern world were laid in our part of the globe.

Most of us will have heard of parts of Burnet’s story, whether it is of figures such as Francis Drake, Dirk Hartog or Abel Tasman, or of place names which reflect historical moments in our history, such as the Gulf of Carpentaria, Arnhem Land, Groote Eylandt, Rottnest Island, or Maatsuyker Island. But other parts of his story will be new to many. There is the tale of how the tiny spice island of Rhun, lying to our north and claimed by the English was subsequently “swapped” for Manhattan Island that had been claimed by the Dutch. There is the horror story of the wreck of the Batavia on the Western Australian coast where a mutiny among the survivors led to a massacre and an eventual bringing to horrific justice of the perpetrators. The many voyages in our part of the world, such as that of the Duyfken, a replica of which recently sailed around Australia, are brought to life through Burnet’s judicious use of contemporary chronicles, logbooks, paintings and maps.

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The Duyfken replica ship ready to depart from the Banda Islands during the re-enactment of the voyage leading to the Dutch discovery of Australia. (Robert Garvey)

The book also reminds us that Abel Tasman was the first European to circumnavigate Australia despite the fact that for much of his travels he was not in sight of land. However, his two great voyages managed to piece together the disparate understanding of the relationship of our continent to the islands to our north that had slowly arisen through previous voyages, many of which are documented by Burnet.

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The Tasman Map – 1644

The book contains many surprises. There is the 1647 verbatim detailed description of the appearance and life cycle of wallabies written by the first Europeans to encounter such, to European eyes, strange beasts. There is the fact that the great flowering of Dutch art in the 1600s typified by such figures as Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer and Frans Hals, was a direct result of the fabulous fortunes made from the spice islands to our north. There is the more recent amazing tale of how Daisy Bates, while living in the 1920s with remote Aborigines in the Nullarbor Plain, was instrumental in having one of rarest maps in the world, that of the Bonaparte Tasman Map, donated to the Mitchell Library by one of Bonaparte’s descendants.

This is a book to savour and to learn from and which will serve as a reference to many a historical event of relevance to both Indonesia and Australia.

Dr.Ron Witton —  forthcoming in Inside Indonesia

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The first appearance of the Spice Islands on a world map – the Atlas Miller (1519-1522)

Art and science join forces in the Portuguese atlas known as the Atlas Miller by the cartographers Lopo Homem, Pedro Reinel, Jorge Reinel and the miniaturist António de Holanda, which is one of the wonders of sixteenth-century Portuguese cartography. The Atlas was created for the Portuguese King Manuel and was intended to display the wealth and power that Portugal had derived from its discoveries in Africa, India, South East Asia and the lands it had claimed.

Based on the map by  the Greek geographer Claudius Ptolemy from the second century AD of the known world, the planisphere of the Atlas Miller shows the Atlantic and Indian Oceans bounded by land.

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Planisphere of the known world from the Atlas Miller (1519-1522)

This masterpiece of geographic art portrays the known world before the departure of Ferdinand Magellan and his Armada de Moluccas, 500 years ago in 1519. This map of the world changed forever after the Armada de Moluccas found their way through the Strait of Magellan and then across the vast Pacific Ocean before they reached the Spice Islands in 1521.This voyage would become the greatest voyage in maritime history when the vessel Victoria captained by Juan Sebastian Elcano completed the first circumnavigation of the globe in 1522.

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The first circumnavigation of the world by Magellan/Elcano  (Battista Agnese 1544)

Alfonso de Albuquerque aided by his Portuguese and Malabari forces had captured the strategic Asian city of Malacca in 1511 and the geographical depiction of the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and the Riau Islands south of Singapore from the Atlas Miller are reasonably accurate even though the artistic illuminations by António de Holanda show the fantastic.

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Detail of the map of the Malay Peninsula from the Atlas Miller

Only a few months after the capture of Malacca, three Portuguese ships under the command of Antonio de Abreu sailed eastwards towards the Spice Islands. The small fleet comprised the flagship Santa Caterina, the Sabaia captained by Francisco Serrao and an unamed caravel captained by Alfonso Bisagudo. They were a crew of 120 including 60 Malays and Javanese, their pilot Nhahkoda Ishmael who was familiar with the trading route to the Spice Islands and Francisco Rodrigues the Portuguese pilot who chronicled their voyage. The fleet reached the tiny nutmeg islands of Banda, Api, Lontar, Ai and Run all of which are mere specks in the Banda Sea. It was after being shipwrecked on the return voyage that Francisco Serrao and his comrades were taken north to the clove islands of Ternate, Tidore, Moti, Machian and Bachan.

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The Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java and the islands of Eastern Indonesia from the Atlas Miller

 

The map of the Spice Islands from the Atlas Miller shows a mass of speculative islands however the one that shows some geographical accuracy are what appear to be the Banda islands as mapped by Francisco Rodrigues and showing the Portuguese flag .

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The Banda islands from the Atlas Miller

The chronicle and maps made by Francisco Rodrigues of the first Portuguese voyage to the Spice Islands in 1512 were lost to history until copies were discovered in 1937 in the archives of the Bibliotheque de l’Assemblee Nationale de France. Below is his more accurate depiction of the Banda islands.

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The Banda islands by Francisco Rodrigues 1512

At the top of the map of the Spice Islands in the Atlas Miller there appears to be a depiction of the clove islands of Ternate, Tidore, Moti, Machian and Bachan off the coast of Halmahera and these are probably derived by the Portuguese from either Francisco Serrao or Malay/Javanese maps of the period.

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Depiction of the clove islands from the Atlas Miller

 

For the complete story of the European discovery of the Spice Islands and the history, romance and adventure of the spice trade over 2000 years, please order the book Spice Islands from your favorite bookstore or online retailer as a paperback or e-book.

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The site of the Alfred Russel Wallace house on Ternate identified

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Map and View of Ternate showing Fort Oranje. J. Van den Bosch, 1818

NEW EVIDENCE: Site of Alfred Russel Wallace’s House in Ternate Identified

“Wallace’s Ternate house is the most important science history heritage site in Indonesia.”

Ternate, Tuesday 3 September 2019 – Rinto Taib, Head of History and Cultural Heritage, Department of Culture, Ternate, announced today that the most likely site of the Alfred Russel Wallace house in Ternate has been identified. Rinto was speaking during the Indonesian Creative Cities Conference and Festival being held in Ternate 2 -7 September 2019.

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Rinto Taib speaking at the press conference, together with Paul Spencer Sochaczawski, Paul Whincup and Nicholas Hughes.

Wallace’s house in Ternate has become legendary. It was from here that Wallace sent his famous Ternate Letter to Charles Darwin, in March 1858, outlining his Theory of Evolution. Historians, academics and Wallace enthusiasts have attempted to locate Wallace’s house site since many years.

Wallace provides tantalising clues as to the location of his house in his book, The Malay Archipelago (1869). Two of the most important clues were that the house had “a deep well (that) supplied me with pure cold water” and that “just below my house is the fort”.

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First edition of the Malay Archipelago

Prof. Sangkot Marzuki, Past President, Indonesian Academy of Sciences, and Syamsir Andili, Mayor of Ternate, 2000-2010, made a preliminary identification of a site that matched most of Wallace’s description, in a paper presented to a Wallace event in Makassar in 2008. This first credible site was named the Santiong House.

George Beccaloni, UK Wallace historian, was the first to question the authenticity of the Santiong House as it failed to meet one critical clue described by Wallace, namely, that the fort was just below his house. Paul Whincup, a hydrogeologist based in Jakarta, subsequently collaborated with George Beccaloni, reasoning that evidence of old deep wells should still remain.

In early 2019, Ternate residents, Fiffy Sahib and Mudhi Aziz, conducted a survey of wells in the general area described by Wallace at the request of Whincup and Beccaloni. They identified seven old deep wells, one of which was located on a site that matched Wallace’s description exactly. The original house, made of wood and sago palm, had of course long since disappeared.

It is now agreed that this site, located on the intersection of Jalan Pipit and Jalan Merdeka facing the south-west bastion of Fort Oranje, is the most likely site of where Wallace lived and from where he despatched his famous ‘Letter from Ternate’.

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Map of Ternate showing the presumed location of the ARW house.  (Paul Whincup)

Wallace’s house has enormous historical significance internationally and for Indonesia. And it has great potential for promoting tourism in Ternate. It is hoped that the land can be purchased and a replica of the original house is built on the site.

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Photo of Ternate showing the presumed location of the ARW house at 1. (Paul Whincup)

 

A replica of the Wallace House would complement the Spice Museum in Fort Oranje, showcasing Wallace’s explorations and scientific discoveries, and the intellectual achievements that Wallace made in documenting the biodiversity of Eastern Indonesia. It could also become an education centre to encourage much-needed biodiversity conservation efforts in the Maluku islands.

This year, 2019, is the 150th anniversary of Wallace’s publication, The Malay Archipelago (1869). It is appropriate that the search for his house has at last been realised.

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