Old Batavia – The Harbourmasters Tower

This lithograph from 1844 by C.W.M van de Velde shows Indonesian prahus alongside the landing dock or Aanleg Plaats on the Main Canal at the interior of Sunda Kelapa harbour. A harbour which is still used by the large Bugis prahus of the wooden trading fleet today.

The lithograph shows the Harbourmasters Tower (Uitkijk) on the opposite side of the canal and the beginnings of the  Spice Warehouses or the  Westzijdsche Pakhuizen on the right. Charles William Meredith van de Velde was himself a Dutch naval officer and head of the Dutch Royal Hydrographer’s Office in Batavia.


Image courtesy of the Bartele Gallery, Jakarta

This image painted by J.C.Rappard some fourty years later shows the Kleine Boom or landing stage constructed on the same site, on the left is the corner of the Stadsherberg erected opposite the landing stage, and in the background the Harbourmasters Tower.


Image from the Historical Sites of Jakarta (Adolf Heuken SJ)

This photograph taken from almost the same position shows the present day condition of the Harbourmasters Tower which has been restored as part of Maritime Museum or Museum Bahari, which now occupies the former Spice Warehouses.


The Harbourmasters Tower as it looks today from the same location

On this map of Batavia from 1770, the images would have been drawn from just below the former Kasteel Batavia, on the left hand side of the Main Canal leading up into the city and looking across to the Bastion Culemborg (47), where the Harbourmasters Tower and the Spice Warehouses are located.


Image courtesy of the Bartele Gallery, Jakarta

The following photos shows the Habourmasters Tower from the entrance side near the Maritime Museum  (Museum Bahari).


The view to the Spice Warehouses (Westzijdsche Pakhuizen ) or the Maritime Museum (Museum Bahari) from the HarbourMasters Tower.


We will visit this area of old Batavia on the first day of our Journey Across Java-2017 tour. Please follow the link to Heritage Destinations for the details:




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Netherlands Indies -Vintage Travel Posters

Heritage Destinations will be repeating our ‘Journey Across Java’ tour for 15 days from August 18 until September 1, 2017. I thought these vintage Dutch travel posters that follow our journey would be of interest.


We will travel most of the way from Jakarta (Batavia) to Bandung (Bandoeng), to Yogyakarta (Djokjakarta), to Solo (Soerakarta)  to Surabaya (Soerabaja) by train. But there is no reason to take the night train as we want to be able to see the beautiful mountains, terraced rice fields and lakes of Java as we travel the distance from Jakarta to Surabaya.


This poster must have been designed to attract a particular type of traveller – the overweight Dutch colonial male whose hat is too big! After we leave Jakarta our train slowly climbs 800 metres up through the mountains of West Java on our journey to Bandung and we see wonderful views of terraced rice fields and distant mountains.  We also pass 100m above the  Cisomang River, on the modern equivalent of the trestle bridge in the poster.


And this poster is for a more sophisticated traveller – those interested in the art, dance, music and culture of Indonesia.


Humidity recedes, gradually replaced by cool, fresh air as we steadily climb up to the broad plateau containing Bandung. Once described as ‘the Paris of Java’, in Bandung we will stay in the renovated and historic Grand Hotel Preanger with its art-deco architecture and decor.


We journey from Bandung to Yogjakarta by train  and as we roll through the sculptured rice terraces, rich cultivated lands and mountains of West Java, the views from the train demonstrate the beauty of the people, the wonderland of colour and the beautiful smiles that can be seen across Java.


In Central Java we will spend three days exploring Jogjakarta and the highlight of the tour will be our visit to the magnificent Borobodur Monument which is the largest Buddhist sanctuary in the world. A colossal cosmic mountain built from one million blocks of stone the monument took perhaps 10,000 artisans a century to build. After a catyclismic eruption of the nearby Mount Merapi it lay buried for almost 1000 years under layers of volcanic ash and vegetation until its rediscovery in 1814.




On our journey to Solo in Central Java we will visit the massive Prambanan Temple complex which consists of 244 temples and is dominated by three main temples dedicated to the three highest gods of Hinduism – Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Keeper, and Shiva the Destroyer.


After three days exploring Solo, we will travel by train to Trowulan in East Java to visit to the remains of the royal city of the 14th century Majapahit Empire.The ancient capital was surrounded by a high red brick wall with deep pools, palaces, temples and pavilions. The impressive Trowulan Museum helps put the site into perspective before we visit the remnants of the historic city.

We travel on to Surabaya and where we will stay two nights at the renowned Majapahit Hotel (originally the Hotel Oranje). As one of the three great hotels of Asia built by the Sarkie brothers, it is even bigger and more magnificent than its sister hotels – the Raffles in Singapore and the Eastern and Oriental Hotel in Penang.



For those interested in the details of the tour, please go to the Heritage Destinations website below:



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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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