Macassan History and Heritage

Macassan History and Heritage

Journeys, Encounters and Influences

Edited by: Marshall Clark, Sally K. May orcid

Please read Conditions of use before downloading the formats.

Download/view free formats
PDF (5.9MB)PDF chaptersRead online (HTML)EPUB (26.2MB)MOBI (6.1MB)


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.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Jun 2013
ANU Press
Arts & Humanities: Cultural Studies, History; Social Sciences: Anthropology, Indigenous Studies
Australia; Southeast Asia: Indonesia

PDF Chapters

Macassan History and Heritage »

Please read Conditions of use before downloading the formats.

If your web browser doesn't automatically open these files, please download a PDF reader application such as the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

To copy a chapter DOI link, right-click (on a PC) or control+click (on a Mac) and then select ‘Copy link location’.

  1. Understanding the Macassans: A regional approach (PDF, 215KB)Marshall Clark and Sally K. May doi
  2. Studying trepangers (PDF, 147KB)Campbell Macknight doi
  3. Crossing the great divide: Australia and eastern Indonesia (PDF, 182KB)Anthony Reid doi
  4. Histories with traction: Macassan contact in the framework of Muslim Australian history (PDF, 111KB)Regina Ganter doi
  5. Interpreting the Macassans: Language exchange in historical encounters (PDF, 969KB)Paul Thomas doi
  6. Unbirri’s pre-Macassan legacy, or how the Yolngu became black (PDF, 123KB)Ian S. McIntosh doi
  7. ‘An Arnhem Land adventure’: Representations of Macassan–Indigenous Australian connections in popular geographical magazines (PDF, 726KB)Rebecca Bilous doi
  8. Rock art evidence for Macassan–Aboriginal contact in northwestern Arnhem Land (PDF, 453KB)Paul S. C. Taçon and Sally K. May doi
  9. Drug substances introduced by the Macassans: The mystery of the tobacco pipe (PDF, 514KB)Maggie Brady doi
  10. Tangible heritage of the Macassan–Aboriginal encounter in contemporary South Sulawesi (PDF, 2.5MB)Marshall Clark doi
  11. Traditional and ‘modern’ trepang fisheries on the border of the Indonesian and Australian fishing zones (PDF, 1.0MB)Dedi Supriadi Adhuri doi
  12. Travelling the ‘Malay Road’: Recognising the heritage significance of the Macassan maritime trade route (PDF, 1.2MB)Sandy Blair and Nicholas Hall doi


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)

Other publications that may interest you