A Taste of Ternate History

On my very first day in Ternate, Bu Esty’s nephew, Faisal (Ichal to his friends and family) took me on a motorbike around Ternate. For such a tiny island, it is steeped in history with many interesting places to visit.
Our first stop was Fort Oranje which was built by the Portuguese in 1540.

20130801-082821.jpgA Spanish plaque on a wall at the Fort.

The Portuguese controlled the spice industry here till 1575 before being forced to move to Ambon.

In 1580, Francis Drake stayed briefly here in Ternate on his way home with the Spanish Amada gold on the Golden Hind and to Ternate’s absolute amazement, showed no interest in their clove industry while here!

However, the Dutch were incredibly interested and in 1607 first based the Dutch East India Company here in Ternate with Fort Oranje becoming their headquarters before they moved it to Batavia (the present day Jakarta) in 1608.


20130801-083329.jpgThis cannon used to face the sea! It now faces rows and rows of shops and houses!The Fort is now used as a base for the Armed Forces.

After looking around this amazingly old structure which has witnessed much change here in Ternate, we continued on our journey down a main street before stopping outside a house. I couldn’t believe my ears when Ichal told me that this was where Alfred Russell Wallace lived and was the very place he wrote his paper on natural selection which he sent to Charles Darwin. The ‘Ternate Essay’ instantly propelled Charles Darwin into publishing ‘The Theory of Evolution’ .



Our next stop was the Sultan’s Palace.

Today only 2 flags are flying, however when the Sultan is in residence, 3 flags are hoisted. Can you see the symbol on top of the light poles?

20130801-090850.jpgThis is the Sultan’s family crest.
The Sultanate of Ternate is one of the oldest Muslim kingdoms in Indonesia, established by Baab Mashur Malamo in 1257. At one point, the Sultanate of Ternate and the Sultanate of Tidore were the richest Sultanates in Indonesia because they were the sole producers of cloves in the world however they wasted much of their wealth fighting each other!
The grounds are enormous and include a garden similar to the one in Catimor, East Java, where a Dutch family lived during the 18 century, so I am wondering to what extent this garden was also influenced by the Dutch.

20130801-091723.jpgAlso in the grounds was an impressive water feature which used to be the Sultan’s family’s swimming pools however they are no longer used because the water is so polluted.

20130801-091627.jpgThis would have been an absolutely amazing place in its heyday.
We then hopped back on the motorbike and headed to Benteng Tolucco, another fort built originally by the Portuguese and then adopted by the Dutch when they took control of the Spice Trade.

As the gates were closed for this fort, we only stayed long enough to take a photo and then feed a caged monkey

We next headed off to some lava fields. On the way, we passed many groups of primary school aged boys playing with horrendous looking guns that apparently shoot pellets.

20130801-093614.jpgThis group of boys were thrilled to be photographed. Their game looks so dangerous as not only are they shooting pellets at each other but they are running along the road finding objects to hide behind. I couldn’t relax while driving through the streets where these games were being played.
Beyond where the boys were playing, are the lava fields. While the remains of the many eruptions are everywhere in Ternate, there is a particular spot where a path has been concreted for people to wander through. The lava here is protected unlike elsewhere on the island where it is harvested for building. The rocks are used for building foundations and the soil is sieved and added to concrete. I loved it here even though it was incredibly hot. The view was amazing with Gunung Gamalama behind us and in front of us was the ocean.


20130801-110408.jpgIt will be even more beautiful and much cooler once the trees are mature. Here is Ichal, my tour guide extraordinaire:

We then headed back home. On the way we stopped to look at a beach which looks like the sand is white from the many broken shells mixed into the sand. Most beaches in Indonesia are black from the volcanic rocks and soil. Can you see the goat on the beach?

The water was absolutely beautiful and I look forward to one day snorkeling here inTernate.
Apparently there are several spots off Ternate which are fantastic for snorkeling but it will have to wait, maybe till another visit, as during the Puasa (fast) water is not allowed to enter the ears or mouth of muslims during daylight hours, thus no swimming.

Along the edge of the roads were many tarpaulins covered in cloves drying in the sun. The scent was amazing, so strong, spicy and fresh.

The view was always changing. Sometimes very old traditional houses, sometimes jungly scrub and often beautiful views out to sea towards the many neighbouring islands.

We just reached the main township when it started to pour with rain, so we ducked into an English School where people can learn English or gain qualifications to teach English.

Even though Pak Rusdy, the teacher, was in the middle of teaching a lesson, he would set his student a task and then come out into the office and chat. He is really keen to visit Australia so I have invited him to come and visit our 3 schools on the south coast! He is very excited about the possibility of visiting us and lets hope it happens. He has travelled very widely and I loved the photos in the front office of him with various school leaders around the world.

20130801-113059.jpgBe good to see one of Mr Hudson up there too, wouldn’t it?


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