This book presents inter-disciplinary perspectives on the maritime journeys of the Macassan trepangers who sailed in fleets of wooden sailing vessels known as praus from the port city of Makassar in southern Sulawesi to the northern Australian coastline. These voyages date back to at least the 1700s and there is new evidence to suggest that the Macassan praus were visiting northern Australia even earlier. This book examines the Macassan journeys to and from Australia, their encounters with Indigenous communities in the north, as well as the ongoing social and cultural impact of these connections, both in Indonesia and Australia.
Kathryn Anderson Wellon writing for The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology reviews Macassan History and Heritage: Journeys, Encounters and Influences, edited by Marshall Clark and Sally K. May. Wellon states that the variety of perspectives explored in Macassan History and Heritage was “exceptional”, the details included in the book “delightful” and praised many of the chapters for their innovation:
“…it provides an extended challenge to the view that Aboriginal Australia was isolated from the rest of the world until the arrival of Europeans, as well as to certain assumptions surrounding contemporary fishing, such as what constitutes ‘traditional’ technology. It also gives some attention to the influence of the Macassans on the society and economy of Makassar.”
Wellon recommends Macassan History and Heritage to those interested in Australia, Sulawesi or maritime trade, and said the content would also appeal to historiographers.
(Kathryn Anderson Wellon, review of Macassan History and Heritage: Journeys, Encounters and Influences, edited by Marshall Clark and Sally K. May, The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, Volume 16, No. 2, pp. 198–200)