Photo by Najib Ariffin

In books lies the soul of the whole past time

The articulate audible voice of the past

When the body and material substance of it has altogether vanished like a dream

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)

Welcome to the website of author and historian Ian Burnet

Ian has spent thirty years, living, working and travelling in Indonesia and is fascinated by the diverse history and culture of the archipelago. This is reflected in his books Spice Islands, followed by East Indies, then Archipelago - A Journey Across Indonesia, then Where Australia Collides with Asia and now his latest book The Tasman Map.

 

The  Spice Islands  book launch at Select Books, Singapore

The Spice Islands book launch at Select Books, Singapore

SPICE ISLANDS published in 2011 by Rosenberg Publishing and now available in a new paperback edition for $29.95

Click on the Image to see the synopsis and reviews on the Book Page

Click on the Image to see the synopsis and reviews on the Book Page

The words, Spice Islands, never fail to conjure images of languid tropical islands, exotic fruits, aromatic spices and romantic tales of intrepid seafarers and traders. This book not only reinforces these images, but goes some way to explain the importance and context of the spice trade and its historical significance ...This is a wonderful book; a triumph of passion and scholarship. It is a short read, but it is packed with fine detail, exquisite maps, fascinating illustrations and a comprehensive bibliography.
— Brian Geach, Townsville Bulletin
The Indonesian Trilogy book talk at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2016  Photo by Wirasathya Damarja

The Indonesian Trilogy book talk at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2016

Photo by Wirasathya Damarja

EAST INDIES published in 2013 by Rosenberg Publishing and now available in a new paperback edition for $29.95.

 

Click on Image to see synopsis and reviews on the Book page

Click on Image to see synopsis and reviews on the Book page

Meticulously researched and sumptuously illustrated with old maps and paintings, Ian Burnet’s second book, East Indies, tells the fascinating story of the rise of the trading empires of the Portuguese, Dutch and English which led to the colonisation of much of the Asia by European powers. From the early 16th Century traders, adventurers, priests and pirates were lured by the promise of the great riches to be had in commodities such as spices, sandalwood, silks, gold and Christian converts.
Burnet describes the founding of the great trading companies- the Portuguese Casa da India, the Dutch East Company and The English East India Company - which competed over centuries, often violently, for a monopoly over trade. He has uncovered stirring eyewitness accounts which enrich the narrative, and at times enters the story himself to describe to the reader what we may encounter of this rich history today in such exotic places as Goa, Malacca, Batavia, Penang and Singapore. I found it a ripping historical yarn!
— Toni Pollard, Lecturer in Indonesian (retired) University of Western Sydney
Archipelago  in the Ganesha Bookshop in Sanur, Bali

Archipelago in the Ganesha Bookshop in Sanur, Bali

 
Click on the image to see the synopsis and reviews on the Book page

Click on the image to see the synopsis and reviews on the Book page

This beautifully illustrated and informative book takes the reader on a journey both through the landscape of Indonesia and back through Indonesia’s past. It weaves a spellbinding experience that will take many of us through memories of past trips we have taken and will entice us to explore parts of Indonesia where we have not yet ventured.
... This is a book that will delight, and inform both newcomers to Indonesia and old hands alike.

— Dr. Ron Witton, The Australia-Indonesia Institute

 

The Indonesian quartet at the Bookshop of the State Library of New South Wales

The Indonesian quartet at the Bookshop of the State Library of New South Wales

Click on the image to see the synopsis and the reviews on the Book page

Click on the image to see the synopsis and the reviews on the Book page

I would like to thank Ian Burnet for writing ‘Where Australia Collides with Asia’. In his book he explains the significance of the work of these great scientists and states clearly the key place that our Asian neighbourhood has played in their ideas. It brings to life not just Darwin and Wallace but others such as Joseph Banks, Captain James Cook, Captain Robert FitzRoy of the Beagle and many others. Written in an easy to read style, with many illustrations, we are introduced to these individuals as real people and the personalities behind their famous names ...
The decades Ian has spent living and travelling in Indonesia and his training as a geologist, have contributed many wonderful layers to this book. The fact that the first of the voyages he writes about is the voyage of the tectonic plates - the voyage of continent Australia - is a wonderful way to start his narrative as it ideally provides background to what is to come.
I commend this book - you will be drawn into another world - a world that has a deep effect on the way we see ourselves and life around us today.
— Asia Bookroom, Sally Burdon
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Every visitor who passes through the vestibule of the Mitchell Library stops to admire the magnificent marble mosaic of the Tasman Map which fills the entire vestibule floor.

This story of the first Dutch voyages to discover Australia is set against the background of the struggle of the newly formed Dutch Republic to gain its independence from the Kingdom of Spain and the struggle of the Dutch East India Company for trade supremacy in the East Indies against its Portuguese, Spanish and English rivals.

Over a period of only forty years from 1606 to 1644 and based on sixteen separate discoveries the first map of Australia took shape. The Tasman Map shows a recognizable outline of the north, west and south coasts of Australia that was not to change for another 125 years until the British explorer James Cook charted the east coast in 1770.

It was in 1925 and 1933 that the Mitchell Library in Sydney, Australia, acquired both the Tasman Huydecoper Journal and the Tasman Bonaparte Map. The story of how the library managed to acquire these treasures of Dutch exploration and cartography will bring new recognition to these icons of both Dutch and Australian history.

The Mitchell Library vestibule and the Tasman Map Mosaic

The Mitchell Library vestibule and the Tasman Map Mosaic

It is intriguing to speculate that the Tasman Bonaparte Map and the Tasman Huydecoper Journal may have both been compiled in Batavia in late 1644 or early 1645 for the Directors of the Dutch East India Company under Abel Tasman’s personal supervision. According to Paul Brunton, the Curator Emeritus at the Mitchell Library, it is certainly extraordinary that two key documents relating to Tasman’s voyages, the Tasman Huydecoper Journal and the Tasman Bonaparte Map were acquired by the Mitchell Library from different sources at around the same time. It would be even more extraordinary if these documents had been compiled together in Batavia under Abel Tasman’s watch and are now reunited at the Mitchell Library after almost 400 years of separation.

Ian Burnet in this stunning volume brings alive the many voyages of discovery that linked the exploration and Dutch conquest of Indonesia to a growing awareness on the part of the Dutch of the great, but as yet unknown, land to the south. Burnet, chapter by chapter with stunning illustrations and reproductions of early maps, has managed to document the many voyages from Europe to the “far east”.
Most of us will have heard of parts of Burnet’s story, whether it is of figures such as Francis Drake, Dirk Hartog or Abel Tasman, or of place names which reflect historical moments in our history, such as the Gulf of Carpentaria, Arnhem Land, Groote Eylandt, Rottnest Island, or Maatsuyker Island. But other parts of his story will be new to many.
This is a book to savour and to learn from and which will serve as a reference to many a historical event of relevance to both Indonesia and Australia.
— Dr. Ron Witten, Inside Indonesia