Visiting the Easternmost City in Indonesia, Merauke

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Dari Sabang sampai Merauke is a phrase that promotes the Indonesian archipelago from the westernmost to the easternmost area. Sabang is a city on the West of Aceh and Merauke is the easternmost city in the Papua region.

Just like many areas in West Papua, Merauke has an exceptional beauty in it. Lies on the South side of the Papua, Merauke’s geographical characteristic consists of coastline, lowlands, and hills. It borders directly with Papua New Guinea country which lies on one big island with Papua.

The native inhabitant of Merauke is the Marind Anim tribe. Once upon a time, the Dutch colonials arrived at Merauke and tried to communicate with the Marind Anim people. The miscommunication between the Dutch and the Marind Anim people created the name “Merauke” derived from “Maro Ka Ehe” which means “this is Maro River” in Marind Anim language.

The Easternmost Point Monument

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Today, Merauke is no less developed than other cities in Indonesia. To symbolize the strength of Indonesian archipelago, a monument was built in 1994. The official name of the monument is “Tugu Kembaran Sabang Merauke” which means the “Twin Monument of Sabang Merauke”.

The monument is located in Sota District, Merauke. On top of the monument, stand a statue of Garuda bird as a symbol of the Republic of Indonesia. While under the monument, a fragment of Satu Nusa Satu Bangsa song is written. This proves the unity of the Republic of Indonesia despite its diverse ethnicity and archipelago.

Merauke’s Fauna Diversity and Wasur National Park

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Through the Dutch colonialism in Merauke, the people in Europe had known the beauty of cendrawasih bird feathers which was exported and used as head ornaments by the women in Europe back then. This made Papua famous for its birds of paradise. The species are now rarely seen in the city and is protected.

Merauke is also known as the city of the deer because of the vast population of the animal on the land. However, the population has been decreasing due to wild hunters. As for Marind Anim people, it is legal to hunt for deer as long they use a traditional weapon and in need to eat.

Somehow, there are similarities between Southern Papua and Northern Australia. The land consists of lowland and savanna. Some of the animals also have similar characteristics like pelicans, kangaroos, couscous, and marsupial rats. The kangaroos found in Merauke are slightly smaller than to those in Australia.

Most part of Merauke is protected within the Wasur National Park. With an area of 2,100 km2, the national park is home to hundreds of fauna species – some of which are endemic to Papua. The immense area is also inhabited by indigenous tribes which divided into 14 villages.

Although they are living under Indonesian government, the tribes still maintain their tradition and thus help to preserve the culture. The presence of the native tribe also means they are keeping a watch for the nature conservation in the Wasur National Park.

The Beautiful Coastline

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With a stretched coastline from the Yos Sudarso Island to the Naukenjerai District, Merauke offers beautiful beaches with clear blue water. Some of the beaches that are worth to visit are Pantai Payum, Pantai Ndalir, and Pantai Lampu Satu. If you want to find an approachable beach, Pantai Lampu Satu is the perfect place.

In Pantai Lampu Satu, you can find an old lighthouse which is still in use to this day. It still functions as a sign for the fishers who are approaching the land. Not only local fishers, there are also fishers from Bugis and Sulawesi that shares the coast and collects fishes around the Merauke coastline. Along the beach, you can find resorts and restaurants that serve local food to enjoy while seeing at the magnificent panorama of Lampu Satu beach.

Culinary Treats and Crafts

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One of the most popular culinary features of Merauke is the sago eaten with roasted meat called the wanggilamo. Some of the other dishes also use sago as its main course, sided with shredded coconut, coconut milk, or banana.

In Merauke, you will see many dishes made of deer’s meat. Cuisines like deer’s meatball and satay will give you a delight of a local taste. To find the culinary treats, you can easily drive around the city. Areas like Jalan Angkasa and Jalan Raya Mandala are known for its street food in the heart of Merauke.

While you’re on looking around in Merauke, you might want to find out the selected crafts from Merauke. As an area that consists of lowland and swamp, Merauke has a big population of crocodiles. Of course, this condition is profitable to the creative locals.

They make crafts, souvenirs, and fashion items using the crocodile’s skin. However, the more sophisticated the item is, the higher the price. When you are shopping, it is best that you add up some skill to your bargaining game.

Merauke is a developed city that has considerable uniqueness. If you want to experience what it is to be on the easternmost part of Indonesia, Merauke is a must-visit city.