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.

Blitar Peristiwa+Rengasdengklok

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!


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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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1934 London to Melbourne Air Race – The Flight of KLM Uiver

Royal Dutch Airlines 2

The 1934 air race from London to Melbourne was sponsored by Melbourne businessman and philanthropist Sir Macpherson Robertson, founder of the MacRobertson Confectionery Company. The race was initiated as part of the Melbourne and Victorian Centenary celebrations. An exquisite gold trophy, cash prizes of £15,000, and gold medals for all crew and passengers who reached Melbourne were provided by Robertson. He also wanted safety to be a priority.

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Photo of a working model of the DC-2 aircraft and map  (Ian Burnet)

KLM had made its first flight to the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) as early as the 1920s. By the mid-1930s the route — which had long-since become the most distant intercontinental route — had long since proven its success.

KLM entered a 14-seat Douglas DC-2 called the Uiver (Stork). This was run as a commercial flight, carrying three passengers (two Dutch bankers; Pieter Gilissen, Roelof Domenie and German aviatrix and journalist Thea Rasche) and 25,000 letters. KLM did the full 22 stop-over version of the race as shown on the dashed line.

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Map showing the route of the Speed Race by Grosvenor House  and the Handicap Race by the Uiver

Just 300km from Melbourne, the Uiver became lost at night in an electrical storm. The people of Albury came to the aid of the plane, in what is now a legendary story and the Uiver was able to make a landing on Albury Racecourse.

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Artist’s impression of the Uiver in an electric storm

Race headquarters in Melbourne asked Albury newspaper sub-editor, Clifton Mott, to flash a light in Morse code. Mott met with Municipal Electrical Engineer, Lyle Ferris and they bumped into District Postal Inspector, Reg Turner, who knew Morse code. All three went to the Albury electrical sub-station where they signalled A-L-B-U-R-Y in Morse code by turning the town’s street lights on and off.

Arthur Newnham, the 2CO Radio announcer, called for cars to go to the Albury Racecourse to light a makeshift runway using their headlights to guide the plane to land, as there was no airport in Albury. About 80 cars arrived. Remarkably, Newnham’s broadcast went out at 12:54 am, and after circling the racecourse twice and dropping parachute flares, the Uiver was safely on the ground by 1:17 am!

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A plaque commemorating the event was created in the Netherlands and donated to the people of Albury.

The DH 88 COMET named Grosvenor House was first to arrive at Melbourne, crossing the finishing line at Flemington racecourse at 3:34 pm on 23rd October 1934, a record time in the air of 70 hours, 54 minutes, 18 seconds.

After its forced landing at Albury the Uiver was freed from the mud on the morning of the 24th October, and minus two crew, passengers and cargo, was able to take off and fly to Melbourne to finish the race in second place overall, taking the handicap prize, despite the dramatic events of the night before. The Uiver’s flying time was 90 hours, 18 minutes, 51 seconds.


The return of the Uiver to Schipol Airport

A month later, the Uiver was greeted with great pomp at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam . Enormous grandstands were set up on the grounds for the ceremony. On 21 November, the Uiver landed at Schiphol to the cheers of thousands of spectators. There was no shortage of memorabilia to commemorate the victory. Books, placards, pins, a song, epic poems, spoons, and plaques — nothing went too far.



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SIGNALS – Tasman Map Book Review


History Underfoot by Jeffrey Mellefont

Like me, many Signals readers will have entered the State Library of NSW through the northern portico of the Mitchell Library and then crossed the vestibule to the muted reading room that’s so solemn with generations of scholarship. Every time we do, we tread the cool marble and terrazzo of the entrance floor, but – if your like me – on most visits we scarcely register the huge map of an earlier, incompletely charted Australia that’s reproduced beneath our feet.

67 Mitchell-Library-State-library-NSW-Simon Fieldhouse

Northern  facade of the Mitchell Library – drawn by Simon Fieldhouse

The details are finely delineated by brass lines inset into marble in a medium that might be as much cloissoné as it is mosaic – details such as the radiating compass roses or the elegant little cameos of sailing ships, or annotations in copperplate Dutch. If we’ve paused we’ve probably noted the signage telling us it’s Abel Tasman’s map … and then marched straight on into the reading room.

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The Mitchell Library Vestibule and the marble mosaic Tasman Map – State Library NSW

Author Ian Burnet would like us to realise that the beautiful reproduction underfoot is what he considers to be Sydney’s greatest work of public art, of the indoors variety. Burnet has made the Library’s Tasman Map both the beginning and the end of his fifth book of regional history for interested but not-necessarily-academic readers – readers like you and me. Between these bookends he tells the story of how our variously named island continent – Terra Australis Incognita, Jave Le Grande, t’Zuyd Landt, Hollandia Nova – took its physical cartographic outline.

Rosenberg Front Cover Image

As with his previous books, Burnet provides a richly detailed  but easily digested context for the big global movements involving the rising Catholic and Protestant maritime powers of Western Europe, before going on to summarise all the players who contributed to the map in the library vestibule. There are those who almost everybody knows  – Willem Janszoon of the Duyfken; Dirk Hartog of pewter plate fame; Francois Pelsaert of the frightful Batavia tragedy; Jan Carstenz attacked by aborigines while charting the Gulf of Carpentaria; Frederick de Houtman at the treacherous West Australian Abrolhos reefs; Francois Thijssen sailing off-course on the Gulden Zeepaard and charting Cape Leeuwin and half the Bight, and many others. Followed by Abel Tasman and his voyage of 1642-43 to Tasmania and New Zealand and his 1644 voyage along the north coast of Australia.

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One of the State Library’s most valued possessions  – The 1644  Bonaparte Tasman Map

Just as fascinating as these voyages is Burnet’s account of how the Mitchell Library acquired two priceless treasures of Tasman’s contribution to Australian discovery. One of only two surviving hand-written copies of Tasman’s 1642-43 journal, and the Tasman Map which was prepared in Batavia in about 1644 for the directors of the United Dutch East India Company in Amsterdam.

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The entry from the Tasman Huydecoper Journal for November 24, 1642  and the first sighting of what Abel Tasman named Van Diemens Land  (Tasmania)

The magificent marble vestibule floor based on the Tasman Map was commenced in 1939 by master craftsmen using Wombeyan russet marble with a tone resembling the varnished paper of the original. It’s bordered by green and cream terrazzo with a surrounding mosaic floor of oceanic waves. Next time you visit the Mitchell Library, give it more attention. Or buy the book. Or both.

This is an abreviation of a review, by Jeffrey Mellefont, which was first published in SIGNALS, the quarterly journal of the Australian National Maritime Museum, issue 129 (December 2019–February 2020).

If you wish to buy the book you can order from your favourite bokshop, from the usual online retailers, or if you live in Sydney I can deliver a signed copy to your door.





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The Coral Triangle, The Rajah Ampat and Wayag Island

In early 2020 I joined the Coral Adventurer on its voyage to the Rajah Ampat and the Spice Islands.

The ‘Coral Triangle’ is the planet’s richest centre of marine life and coral diversity, with over 6,000 species of fish, 76% of the world’s coral species, and an awe-inspiring array of wildlife. Resources from the area directly sustain more than 130 million people living here. But overfishing, destructive fishing, unsustainable tourism, impacts of urbanization, and climate change are eroding this resource base.

Coral Triangle


The ‘Coral Triangle’ has the most abundance of coral species and coral reef fish species of anywhere on the planet. This is caused by the ‘Indonesian Throughflow’ between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, when a huge amount of seawater and associated marine plankton flow through the region of ‘The Rajah Ampat’.

Indonesia Flowthrough

Within the ‘Coral Triangle’ is the region of ‘The Four Kings’ that is ‘The Rajah Ampat’ which consist of the four main islands of Misool, Torobi, Batanta and Waigeo. But there are many smaller islands in the region including Wayag which is located to the northwest of Waigeo.

The Rajah Empat Islands

In May 2007, a network of seven Marine Protected Areas was formally declared by the government of the Raja Ampat regency and since then another 5 have been added across the Birds Head Peninsular – a truly impressive achievement.



The seven Marine Protected Areas in the Raja Ampat Marine Reserve

Wayag, which is the northernmost island in the Kawe Marine Reserve consists of a series of islands formed on a carbonate limestone topography, which have been eroded by both rainwater and seawater to form karst remnants.

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The Guest Lecturer doing some ‘guest lecturing’ on karst topography


The view of the karst topograhy from the top of Wayag Island

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Some happy ‘Coral Adventurers’ at the top of Wayag Island

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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.


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.


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?’


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.


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.


Elder Les Daniel conducting the smoking ceremony


Elder Les Daniel and the bronze doors




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