Continuing Connection

Roles of Makassan Artists in Retelling a Shared History between Trepangers and Indigenous Australians


  • Lily Yulianti Farid Monash Indigenous Studies Centre, School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies, Monash University
  • Muhammad Arief Al Fikri Faculty of Cultural Sciences, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, Indonesia



Indigenous Australia; Makassar; cultural relations, Indigenous Australia, Makassar, cultural relations, trepang, stroytelling, education, maritime heritage


The historical relationships between Makassans and Aboriginal people that took place as early as the 17th century until the early 20th century through the trepang industry in the northern coast, North Australia, is still unknown to many people in Makassar, South Sulawesi. There are various factors involved in the lack of information about the shared history, including the absence of the story of trepangers as part of Indonesian maritime heritage history in school textbooks and the insufficient materials and narratives on this topic in provincial and city museums. This paper examines the potential roles of Makassan artists and cultural activists to tell the story after engaging with ancient trepang industry-related cultural and art projects. It also investigates their changed perceptions about Australia and Indonesia both culturally and historically after their participation in art and cultural projects.


Download data is not yet available.



Arena Magazine 45 (2000, February). Trepang Opening Night. February 2000. Retrieved from

Australian Embassy, Indonesia (2017, August). The Voyage to Marege: A Musical Celebration of Australia and Indonesia;s Shared Histories. Retrieved from

Baillie, A (1994). Songman. Melbourne: Viking.

Bilous, Rebecca H. (2011). Macassan/Indigenous Australian ‘sites of memory’ in the National Museum of Australia and Australian National Maritime Museum. Australian Geographer, 42:4, 371-386, doi: 10.1080/00049182.2012.619953.

Bilous, Rebecca H. (2015). Making Connections: Hearing and sharing Macassan-Yolηu Stories. Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 56 (3): 356-379.

Clark, Marshall. (2013). Tangible Heritage of the Macassan–Aboriginal Encounter in Contemporary South Sulawesi. In M. Clark and S.K. May (Eds.), Macassan history and heritage: Journeys, encounters and influences (pp. 159–181). Canberra: ANU E Press.

Ganter, R. (2006). Mixed Relations: Asian/Aboriginal contact in north Australia. Perth: University of Western Australia Press.

Macknight, Charles Campbell. (1976). The Voyage to Marege’, Macassan Trepangers in Northern Australia. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

McIntosh, I. (2000). Aboriginal Reconciliation and the Dreaming: Warramiri Yolngu and the Quest for Equality. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Morphy, H. (1991). Ancestral Connections: Art and an Aboriginal System of Knowledge. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Poelinggomang, E. (2004). Perubahan Politik dan Hubungan Kekuasaan Makassar 1906-1942. Yogyakarta: Penerbit Ombak.

Stephenson, P. (2007). The Outsiders Within: Telling Australia’s Indigenous–Asian story. Sydney: UNSW Press.

Yulianti, L. (2019). Makassar and Northern Australia: An artistic perspective of the shared history. International Institute for Asian Studies.Retrieved from


Febrianty Hasanah. September 2020.

Mansyur Muhayang. 5 December 2020, 27 March 2021.

Muhammad Rais. February 2019, September 2020.

Nurabdiansyah Ramli. February 2019, September 2020.

Syarifuddin Daeng Tutu. September 2020.

Will Stubbs. December 2018.



Most read articles by the same author(s)