Indonesian Independence Day

The 17th of August marks Indonesia's Proclamation of Independence, a day of celebration in Australia.  Due to our close proximity to Indonesia a record number of Australians make the islands their holiday destination and Indonesian migrants are now part of our Australian culture.

Though Indonesia's independence is not a enormously celebrated event by the masses, there are strong pockets of Indonesian culture in our communities. Though it's not an Islamic state, Indonesia is dominated by Muslims and boasts having the fourth largest populous in the world. Though when you look around what we predominantly find is traditional Bali imports everywhere, strongly influenced by Indian, Chinese, and Hindu culture so you will find many popular and affordable imports reflect this. From exquisite furniture carved out of wood to the welcoming statues outside Indonesian restaurants, there's much to be noticed and appreciated.

The Indonesian Independence Day falls on the 17th of August every year and is a very big event for Indonesian people. In search of spices, the Dutch arrived in Indonesia and established a foothold over Indonesian territories in 1605 and since then, up until 1945 when the Declaration of Independence was signed with Sukarno as the first President, many skirmishes were fought over this country.

As major producers, it's no surprise that Indonesian food is rich with spices and herbs. The different contrasting flavours and textures make this cuisine a popular choice for diners.  Among the many types of spices used, nutmeg features extensively in the Indonesian kitchen. The nutmeg tree is native to the Moluccas (the Spice Islands) in Indonesia and has been known as a useful medicine in a number of Asian societies. Many types of stews, soups and main dishes have a pinch of nutmeg in them to enhance the flavour.

The ever popular Indonesian satay is served in many flavourful combinations and many recipes call for the nutmeg embellishment of the savoury.  Essentially satay is slices of meat skewered on sticks and grilled quickly over charcoal. The thing about this dish is its versatility. Satay may be made from pork, chicken, beef, lamb or even tofu and there are many combinations of spice and marinades.

Recreation surfing also provides a significant tie and cultural exchange between our countries, particularly on the island of Bali which has incredible waves and massive tourist draw. Being that Indonesia is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, it's no surprise that Australians are huge fans.  What's not to love? Their beaches, tropical climate and rich cultural heritage offers texture to our travels as there are great differences to learn about, enjoy and explore with an open mind.

Tourism comprises one of the major industries of Indonesia. Bali remains one of the most popular places for Australians going on holidays but not much history is known about this wonderful country which is so rich in culture. Indonesian Independence Day is a time to celebrate and also a great way to learn about this interesting country.

  • There are 316 ethnic groups which speak 670 dialects in Indonesia.
  • Indonesia is counted amongst the largest producers of nutmeg in the world.
  • Sumatra Island of Indonesia is also known to produce the largest individual flower in the world, the Rafflesia arnoldi. If you're lucky to see these massive petals expanding out from their earthly roots, beware that it's nickname is “corpse flower.”  Be forewarned that while you're awestruck at the spectacle, there may be a strong odour of decaying flesh if you ever get to see this Rafflesia.
  • Coffee, on the other hand, smells spectacular and Indonesia is currently the fourth largest producer of coffee in the world. Production plantations on Sumatra, amongst other island, are reason for these bean origins being common household names in the western world.
  • The largest islands of Indonesia are Java, Sumatra, New Guinea, Sulawesi and Kalimantan. Amongst the mind boggling 17 508 islands that comprise Indonesia, it's roughly estimated that only 6 000 are inhabited!
  • Indonesia is also inhabited by the Komodo dragon, the largest lizard still roaming the earth today.
  • Some of the rarest creatures in the world also call Indonesia home: Miniature deer, fish that climb trees to catch insects, and spiders that catch and devour small birds in giant webs.
  • The Indonesia Flag and Monaco Flag are exactly the same.
  • There are 32 provinces in the Republic of Indonesia and the North Sulawesi terrain is extremely mountainous and hilly.
  • Indonesia has many high mountains, the highest of which are over 4000 meters.
  • Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur frequently in Indonesia; with over 400 active volcanoes, there are over 3 earthquakes per day.

The 17th of August is marked to commemorate Indonesia's independence after three and a half centuries of foreign occupation and the lives that were lost in battle for freedom. Preparations for the big day begin weeks before with many high-rise office buildings around town sporting large banners and lighted designs. The national colours of red and white can be seen everywhere; in shopping malls, fences around the presidential palace, housing complexes and roads. The words Dirgahayu RI (Long Live Indonesia) are also generously dotted around the city.

The first and main activity during this day of events is the flag hoist which is done by all government offices and schools. While the red and white national flag is being raised, the Indonesian national anthem plays. A moment of silence then follows in which Indonesians contemplate and pray for the late heroes who have been killed in the independence war.

After these solemn processions, the most waited events begin. Games, races, contests and food appear. A popular game, 'Panjat Pinang' is played by adults and children alike. It's a team game where a palm trunk is greased and various prizes are hung at the top. The goal is to reach the prizes and this game provides entertainment for the entire crowd.

When it comes to celebrating Indonesia's Independence day in Australia, why not seek out your local Indonesia restaurant where you can enjoy a delicious range of authentic satays and curries. Also, Indonesia is currently one of the largest producers of coffee in the world and considering the thriving coffee culture we have here in Australia, it won't be hard to source out a cup of fair trade Java - make this Indonesia's Day memorable.