Yes – Miracles can happen!

Miracles don’t often happen but a miracle happened when I first made contact with David Rosenberg and Rosenberg Publishing, as he shared my vision of publishing my book Spice Islands with the maps and images embedded in the text. So that when you were reading about a map or image, there it was in front of you.

This is usually only seen in expensive coffee table books. But David was able to achieve this in a 200 page book with 70 colour images printed on quality paper for the same price as you would pay for a regular paperback and over the years I have seen no other publisher achieve the same result.

David and I shared a special relationship because over a period of ten years we have published five books in this special format – Spice Islands, East Indies, Archipelago, Where Australia Collides with Asia and The Tasman Map – all to critical acclaim. Unfortunately this relationship will come to end because due to medical reasons David will no longer publish any new books – although Rosenberg Publishing will continue to market and distribute their existing books.

I would like to recognise and thank David and Scilla Rosenberg for their remarkable achievements and our cooperation over the last ten years.

Don’t stop dreaming because, Yes – miracles can happen!

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Insinyur Geologi Australia, Ian Burnet Sudah Menulis Lima Buku Sejarah Terkait Indonesia

Ian Burnet, seorang warga Australia, pernah lama bekerja di Indonesia di bidang geologi. Setelah pensiun, dia sudah menulis lima buku terkait Indonesia dalam sepuluh tahun terakhir.

Ian sekarang sudah berusia 75 tahun dengan istri asal Indonesia yang kini tinggal di negara bagian New South Wales.

Namun usia tidak membuatnya mengendurkan kegiatannya untuk menulis.

Dengan pengalaman bekerja dan mengunjungi Indonesia selama lebih dari 30 tahun, Ian melihat banyak hal yang kemudian memberikannya inspirasi untuk menulis buku.

“Saya pertama kali ke Indonesia di tahun 1968 dan anda bisa bayangkan itu tahun setelah ‘The Years of Living Dangerously’ [sebuah film Australia yang menggambarkan masa pergolakan di Indonesia tahun 1965],” kata Ian Burnet kepada wartawan ABC Indonesia Sastra Wijaya. Silakan ikuti tautan di bawah ini untuk membaca laporan lengkapnya.

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Garden of the East – Photography in Indonesia 1850’s – 1940’s

Garden of the East: Photography in Indonesia 1850s–1940s is the first major survey in the southern hemisphere of the photographic art from the period spanning the last century of colonial rule until just prior to the establishment of the Republic of Indonesia in 1945. The 2014 exhibition provided the opportunity to view over two hundred and fifty photographs, albums and illustrated books of the photography of this era and provides a unique insight into the people, life and culture of Indonesia.

The exhibition is comprised of images created by more than one hundred photographers and the majority have never been exhibited publicly before. The works were captured by photographers of all races, making images of the beauty, bounty, antiquities and elaborate cultures of the diverse lands and peoples of the former Dutch East Indies. Among these photographers is the Javanese artist Kassian Céphas, whose genius as a photographer is not widely known at this time, a situation which the National Gallery of Australia hopes to address by growing the collection of holdings from this period and by continuing to stage focused exhibitions such as Garden of the East.

Leo Haks of Amsterdam started collecting photographs from Indonesia after a chance purchase in the Hague in 1977. From that start Haks became fascinated with early photography in Indonesia between the 1860s and 1940s. In 1984, he returned to Amsterdam and became a dealer in rare books and Indonesian paintings. He co-authored a number of books on Indonesian art and continued building what became the only museum standard holding of Indonesian photography in private hands.

Leo Haks built a collection of 5000 prints, as well as thousands more in albums both grand and humble. These albums, prints and his library of over 140 mostly rare books on the subject — all lugged up the narrow staircases of his four storey Amsterdam home — were expertly catalogued and rehoused in archival sleeves, new bindings or specially made cases. It was in 2006 that the National Gallery of Australia acquired this world class collection.

Gael Newton, Senior Curator of Photography, National Gallery of Australia and the Curator of the 2014 exhibition ‘Garden of the East‘ said that the exhibition presents images, both historic and homely and is a ‘time travel’ opportunity to visit the Indies through more than two hundred and fifty works on show, made by both professional and amateur family photographers. Images as diverse as the Indonesian archipelago itself, which was once described by nineteenth century travel writers as the ‘Garden of the East’.

The book Garden of the East -photography in Indonesia 1850s -1940s has been published by the National Gallery of Australia and the Indonesian visual heritage collection is available online by clicking Gallery on the link below.

Please click on the link below to watch a short documentary on the Garden of the East photographic exhibition.

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Talking about the Spice Islands – with Janet de Neefe and Ian Burnet

For those who missed the talk on Instagram Live last week, then here is a link to the conversation between Janet de Neefe and Ian Burnet about Spices, the Spice Islands and Indonesia’s extraordinary maritime history.

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Indo Lit Conversation Series – Ian Burnet

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The Indonesian Declaration of Independence, 17 August 1945

This coming Monday, 17 August 2020, will be the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Indonesian Declaration of Independence. Unfortunately because of Covid restrictions we will not be able to celebrate appropriately.

Timing is everything.  After the Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945 and the resulting power vacuam, now is the time to declare Indonesian independence. However Soekarno and Hatta as the leaders of the independence movement were hesitant and needed confirmation of the Japanese surrender. On August 16, Soekarno and Hatta are kidnapped? by the younger revolutionaries and taken to the village of Rengasdengklok, where they are pressured to declare independence in Jakarta on the following day. After reaching an agreement, Soekarno and Hatta return to Jakarta that evening to finalise the text.

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The Indonesian Independence leaders discussing the draft of the Declaration of Independence at Rengasdengklok, 16 August 1945


Hatta and Soekarno at Rengasdengklok with the draft Declaration. 16 August 1945

It was difficult to balance the interests of the Japanese military, the interests of Soekarno and Hatta, and those of the younger revolutionaries. For this reason the finally agreed declaration was kept as simple as possible


The handwritten draft of the Declaration of Independence, 17 August 1945


The Declaration of Independence is formally announced by Soekarno and Hatta at 10am on the morning of 17 August 1945. Soekarno stated in his opening speech:

Saudara- suadara sekalian

Saya telah minta saudara-saudara  hadir disini, untuk menyaksikan satu peristiwa mahapenting dalam sejarah kita.

Berpuluh- puluhan tahun kita bangsa Indonesia telah berjoang untuk kemerdekaan tanah air kita – bahkan telah berates- ratus tahun!

 Gelombang aksi kita untuk mencapai kemerdekaan kita itu ada naiknya, dan ada turunnya, tetapi jiwa kita tetap menuju ke arah cita-cita.

Juga didalam zaman Jepang, usaha kita untuk mencapai kemerdekaan nasional tidak  berhenti-berhentinya . Didalam zaman Jepang ini tampaknya, bahwa kita menyandarkan diri kepada mereka. Tetapi hak ekatnya, tetapi kita menyusun tenaga sendiri, tetapi kita percaya pada kekuatan kami sendiri.

Sekarang tibalah saatnya kita benar-benar mengambil sikap nasib bangsa, dan nasib tanah air kita, didalam tangan kita sendiri. Hanya bangsa yang berani untuk mengambil nasib dalam tangan sendiri akan dapat berdiri dengan kuatnya.

Maka kami tadi malam telah mengadakan musyawarat dengan pemuka-pemuka rakyat Indonesia dari seluruh Indonesia. Permusyawaratan itu seIa sekata berpendapat bahwa sekaranglah datang saatnya untuk MENYATAKAN KEMERDEKAAN KITA!

Brothers and Sister All! I have asked you to be in attendance here in order to witness an event in our history of the utmost importance. For decades we, the people of Indonesia, have struggled for the freedom of our country – even for hundreds of years! There have been waves in our actions to achieve independence which rose, and there have been those that fell, but our spirit still was set in the direction of our ideals. Also during the Japanese period our efforts to achieve national independence never ceased. In this Japanese period it merely appeared that we lent on them. But fundamentally, we still continued to build up our own powers, we still believed in our own strengths. Now has come the moment when we truly take the fate of our actions and the fate of our country into our own hands. Only a nation bold enough to take its fate into its own hands will be able to stand in strength. Therefore last night we had deliberations with prominent Indonesians from all over Indonesia. That deliberative gathering was unanimously of the opinion that NOW has come the time to declare our independence. Brother and Sisters, we hearby declare the solidarity of that determination. Listen to our Proclamation.


Kami, bangsa Indonesia, dengan ini menyatakan kemerdekaan Indonesia.

Hal-hal jang menenai pemindahan kekoeasaan d.l.l., diselenggarakan dengan tjara saksama dan dalam tempo jang sesingkat-singkatnja.

Djakarta, hari 17 boelan 8, tahoen 45

Atas nama bangsa Indonesia



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Soekarno together with Rear-Admiral Maeda and  Hatta reads out the Declaration of Independence on the front steps of his house

Following which he announced:

Demikianlah saudara-saudara kita sekarang telah merdeka! Tidak ada suatu ikatan lagi yang mengikuti tanah air kita dan bangsa kita!  Mulai saat ini kita menyusun negara kita! Negara merdeka! Negara Republik Indonesia! Merdeka kekal abadi!  Insya Allah Tuhan memberkati kemerdekaan kita ini.

So it is, Brothers and Sisters! We are now already free! There is not another single tie binding our country and our people! As from this moment we build our state. A free state, the State of the Republic of Indonesia – ever more and eternally independent. Allah willing, God blesses and makes safe this independence of ours!


Blitar SoekarnoDoaProKemRI

Soekarno prays for the future of the newly declared Republic of Indonesia. 17 August 1945

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Ceremony of raising the Indonesian flag after the Declaration of Independence, 17 August 1945

The flag was hand sewn by Soekarno’s wife Fatmawati. After the raising of the Indonesian flag the group sing the Indonesian National Anthem ‘Indonesia Raya’.


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Soekarno arriving at Merdeka Square to speak to the Indonesian people. 19 September 1945

The Pemuda Youth Group had organised a mass rally in Merdeka Square to celebrate independence on 19 September 1945. The Japanese military banned the gathering because of their fear that it would lead to a mass riot and to confrontation between the Indonesians and the Japanese military, who had their guns trained on the Square.

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Soekarno blocked by Japanese military  from speaking at Merdeka Square. 19 September 1945

Soekarno is stopped by the Japanese military from  attending the mass rally. Until a compromise is reached whereby he agrees to give a short speech, which he later describes as his ‘State of the Union Adress’ and then tells the enthusiastic crowd to peacefully disperse.

Blitar Sukarno_speaking_on_podium,_Impressions_of_the_Fight_..._16 August

Soekarno speaking to the Indonesian people at Merdeka Square. 19 September, 1945

Blitar Sukarno_and_Hatta_together,_Impressions_of_the_Fight_... 19 September Merdeka Square

Soeharto and Hatta together at Merdeka Square. 19 September, 1945

The Preparatory Committee for Indonesian Independence (PPKI) had met in June and July to prepare a constitution for the proposed Independent Republic of Indonesia. This was announced on the 18 August 1945 and is better known as the 1945 Constitution.

On August 29 the Central Indonesian National Committee (KNIP) was established with 137 members and its first plenary session was held on 16 October 1945

Blitar Sutan Sjahir opening the first plenary session of October 1945

Prime Minister Sutan Sjahir opening the first plenary session of the Indonesian National Committee (KNIP) on 16 October 1945 with Soekarno and Hatta presiding. Does anyone know who is the other leader seated with Soekarno and Hatta?

Photographs sourced from various Indonesian national archives.

Thanks to Anthony Liem for providing the text of Soekarno’s speech.

Thanks to Toni Pollard for providing the image of the handwritten draft document

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24 November 1642, Van Diemens Land

70 The Heemskerck and Zeehaen

First in the South

In the late afternoon of 24 November 1642, and thankfully still in daylight, the Dutch East India Company ships Heemskerk and the Zeehan sighted distant mountains. An overnight storm could dash them onto this unknown coast and they prudently decided to run out to sea until the next day:

We were on a latitude of 42 degree 25 minutes and a longitude of 163 degrees 31 minutes, the course was held northeast and we sailed thirty miles; the wind from the south-west, later from the south with a gentle topsail breeze; in the afternoon about 4 o’clock we saw land to the north-east of us some 10 miles away; it was very high-lying land; towards the evening we saw again three high mountains in the east-south-east and in the north-east also two mountains which were not as high as those in the south.

The land Abel Tasman sighted was the west coast of Tasmania near Macquarie Harbour. Before them were mountains clothed with dark forest which were subsequently named Mount Heemskerck and Mount Zeehaen in their honour by the British explorer Mathew Flinders.

Tasman Hobart - Copy

Abel Tasman statue in Hobart  (Cathy Morrison)


On 25 November Tasman’s journal records:

This land being the first land we have met with in the South Sea and as it has not yet been known to any European we called it Anthony van Diemens Land, in honour of the Governor-General, our illustrious master, who sent us out to make this discovery. The islands round about, as many as were known to us, we have named after the Honourable Councillors of India.

Tasman1642_7_1642 Nov 24

Tasman’s journal entry for November 24 and 25, 1642  (The Tasman Journal)

These islands on the south coast of Tasmania still have the names of De Wit, Sweers and Maatsuyker, the members of the Council of the Indies, who had signed their sailing orders. The fleet rounded the most southern part of Van Diemens Land and on 29 November the expedition approached what looked like a likely anchorage. The journal records:

In the evening about 5 o’clock we came before a bay which seemed likely to afford a good anchorage, upon which we resolved with our ship’s council to run into it, as may be seen from today’s resolution; we had nearly got into the bay when there arose so strong a gale that we were obliged to take in sail and to run out to sea again under reduced sail, seeing that it was impossible to come to anchor in such a storm; in the evening we resolved to stand out to sea during the night under reduced sail to avoid being thrown on a lee-shore by the violence of the wind.

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Map of Tasman’s voyage around Van Diemens Land, Francois Visscher (Algemeen Rijksarchief)


Storm Bay has retained the name given by Abel Tasman and by daybreak they found they were far offshore. After rounding South Cape (Cape Pillar) and Tasman Island they sailed northwest and on 1 December entered a wide sheltered bay they named Frederick Hendrik Bay after Prince Frederick of Nassau, the head of the Dutch Republic:

In the afternoon we hoisted the white flag upon which our friends of the Zeehaen came on board of us, with whom we resolved that it would be best and most expedient, wind and weather permitting, to touch at the land the sooner the better, both to get better acquainted with its condition and to attempt to procure refreshments for our own behalf … about one hour after sunset we dropped anchor in a good harbour, in 22 fathom, white and grey fine sand, a naturally drying bottom; for all which it behoves us to thank God Almighty with grateful hearts.


The ships at Frederick Hendrik Bay (Blackmans Bay)

The expedition had been at sea for 55 days since they left Mauritius and in the morning of December 2 two boats went ashore to search for water, firewood and what else may be available there. Francois Visscher was in charge of the pinnace from the Heemskerck, and was accompanied by the cock-boat from the Zeehaen. Both boats had musketeers on board, and the rowers were armed with pikes and side arms. They were gone the whole day and in the evening they delivered an account of their exploration to the ships Council:

The land was high, level and covered with vegetation (not cultivated, but growing naturally by the will of God). There was good timber but the water they found wasn’t deep enough to fill barrels, because the watercourse was so shallow that the water could be dipped with bowls only. This was impracticable in view of the amount of water they needed to bring aboard. 

They did not see any native people during their visit but they heard sounds resembling a trumpet or a little gong, which they thought came from humans but which could equally have been bird sounds. They did however note physical evidence of the presence of people:

They saw two trees about 2 to 2 ½ fathoms thick and measuring 60 to 65 feet to the lowest branches and the bark of those trees was peeled off and they were notched with flint stones (to climb up and rob the nests of birds above) to form steps five feet apart, so that our men presumed that the people here must be very big or that they avail themselves of some practical means to climb the trees. In one of these trees these carved steps were very fresh and green as if they had been cut less than four days before.

Tasman Ships Hobart

A monument in Hobart showing the Heemskerk and the Zeehan (Cathy Morrison)

Abel Tasman left Van Diemans Land without having personally stepped ashore, without having met its people, or knowing if it was an island. It is interesting to speculate that if he had decided to explore the east coast of Australia, then the whole continent would have become known as Hollandia Nova and history would have been very different.

Rosenberg Front Cover Image


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An Indonesian Market

How much fun is an Indonesian market? Lively,  full of fun and friendly banter as the vendors (mainly women) sell their fish, fruit, and vegetables from their kitchen gardens.

This market is on the island of Saparua in Maluku, Eastern Indonesia. See the women, their produce, and their children












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Clear skies over Jakarta!

As you can see from this painting by Hendrik Jacobsz, it was possible in 1650 to see the mountains behind Jakarta from the harbour. Mountains which are about 60 km inland, are not far past the town of Bogor, and stand up to 3000 metres above sea level.

Hendrick Jacobz Dubbels_Gezicht_op_Batavia_Rijksmuseum_SK-A-2513

View of Batavia from the harbour.  Hendrik Jacobz, 1650, Rijksmuseum

With the millions that now live in Jakarta and the the air pollution produced by its cars and adjacent factories, these mountains are never seen, except for once a year during or just after Ramadan. The factories are closed for weeks over the Ramadan holiday. Many people and their cars have left for their home villages in Java and this Covid year many people have just stayed at home, leaving the streets deserted. With one good rain there are  suddenly clear skies over Jakarta!

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View south towards the mountains from Jakarta with Gunung Gede and Gunung Pangrango on the left and Gunung Salak on the right.      Photo by Cun Cun

The highest point on Gunung Salak is 2211 metres and it creates a micro-climate around Bogor as rain clouds build up over the mountain during the day and then at mid-afternoon torrential rain falls on Bogor.  Salak is the name of a tropical fruit with scaly skin, however according to Sundanese tradition, the name was derived from the Sanskrit word Salaka which means silver. Gunung Salak can then be translated to Silver Mountain. I have climbed the mountain from the south and camped near the crater rim. It was a beautiful trek up through terraced rice fields, vegetable gardens, fruit trees, and then jungle on the way to the summit.


The breached volcano of Gunung Salak seen from Bogor.        Photo by Ehamburg

Gunung Pangrango is the highest of the three volcanoes at 3019 metres. The name Pangrango is thought to be originated from two ancient Sundanese words Pang and Rango which means “That which huffs and puffs” referring to the past volcanic activity of this mountain. I have camped and slept on the very top of the peak — and at this height it was very, very, cold.

Pangrango_Delima Putri

A view of Gunung Pangrango taken from Gunung Gede at sunset.     Photo by Delima Putri


Gunung Pangrango seen from near the Bogor Botanic Gardens,  J.C.Rappard, 1880, Tropenmuseum

Here is Gunung Gede seen from the south side near Sukabumi with Gunung Pangrango on the left. Gede means big so this is clearly the big mountain. I have climbed to the rim of the volcanic crater and it is still active as it puffs steam and sulphur fumes.


Gunung Gede seen from the south near Sukabumi.      Photo from Wikipedia


Gunung Pangarango and the crater rim on Gunung Gede.    Photo by Fahri Riski Hamdani

Gunung Gede KITLV_-_50H7_-_Junghuhn,_Franz_Wilhelm_(1809-1864)_-_Mieling,_C.W.

Gunung Gede flowing lava. Franz Wilhelm Junghung, 1853, KITLV

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Historic Maps in Marble

The new Amsterdam City Hall was completed in 1655. This remarkable building which was built on 13,659 wooden piles at a cost 8.5 million guilders, is now the Royal Palace and still dominates the Dam Square today. The relatively simple exterior of the city hall is stikingly different to the exuberant Baroque style of the interior, with its huge allegorical paintings and marble reliefs derived from the Bible and classical mythology.

62 Dam Stadhuis, Gerrit Berckheyde, 1672, Rijksmueum

Dam Stadhuis, Gerrit Berkhheyde, 1672, Rijksmuseum

At the centre of the building is the high-ceilinged Burgerzaal, which is a rare example for this period of a large non-religious architectural space. When the new city hall was completed, a large world map in two hemispheres composed of marble and copper was laid on the floor of the Groote Burgerzaal to celebrate the trade supremacy of the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch West India Company.


The Groote Burgerzaal in the Dam Stadhuis, 1661

Intended to impress visitors, the floor was a symbol in marble of the extension of Dutch seapower across the world. The Eastern hemisphere details the regions explored by the ships of the Dutch East India Company including the exploration of Hollandia Nova and the results of Tasman’s voyages.


Plan of the marble floor of the Groote Burgerzaal, 1661

Over a century this cartographical work of art was badly damaged by people walking over the floor and the two hemispheres were later filled in with plain marble slabs without any pictorial representation. This important cartographical monument was lost to posterity, however we have an image and a description from 1661:

One sees here in the centre, on the floor of the Groote Burgerzaal, two half spheres, bisected at the axis and a celestial hemisphere, of which each at the centre line or diameter is a length of approximately two-and-twenty and in its circumference approximately six-and-sixty feet. On the one terrestrial hemisphere, towards the east in the Burgerzaal, the contours of the outermost limits of the three parts of the world, to wit Europe, Asia and Africa, as also even the islands, promontories, rivers and oceans, and parts of Hollandia Nova are shown very ingeniously by red and other coloured inlaid stone.

Plattegrond_van_de_Burgerzaal_in_het_Stadhuis_op_de_Dam_De_Grondt_en_Vloer_vande_Groote_Burger_Sael_(titel_op_object),_RP-P-AO-21-13-15 - Copy

Detail of the Eastern Henisphere showing Hollandia Nova and Van Diemens Land

In 1746 the Amsterdam Government commissioned Jacob Martenesz to execute a new world map of two hemispheres in marble to replace those of 1655. For reasons unknown the work was not used as intended and remained forgotten in a store-room of the City Hall. It was not until 1953 that the forgotten marble maps were finally installed in their intended place in the Groote Burgerzaal. The eastern hemisphere shows Nova Hollandia, including Terra Concordia (Eendrachslandt) and Terra Diemensis (Van Diemens Landt) all based on the 1644 Tasman Map.

63 Burgerzhall Jean-Christophe Benoist

The Groote Burgerzaal and its marble maps

65 Marble Map

Detail of the 1746 marble map of Nova Hollandia in the Groote Burgerzaal. Photo Ian Burnet

Commissioned by the Principal Librarian William Ifould, the marble mosaic map in the vestibule of Mitchell Library was intended to celebrate Abel Tasman, the early Dutch discoveries of Australia and the Tasman Map of 1644,  just as these voyages were celebrated in marble on the floor of the Groote Burgerzaal in Amsterdam.

Work commenced in 1939 by the Melocco Brothers of Annandale who as master craftsmen took eighteen months and an incalculable degree of skill, knowledge and patience to create one of the most immpressive mosaic floors in the world. A ‘must see’ on your next visit to the State Library of NSW

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The marble mosaic Tasman Map in the vestibule of the Mitchell Library.  State Library NSW

Rosenberg Front Cover Image

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