The Darwin Museum has a fantastic display of Indonesian boats sailed to Australia by refugees. This little boat the “Sama Jasa” is only 5 meters long. It sailed across the sea with 6 people on board, landed on Bathurst Island, just off Darwin, in 1986. The crew were detained by customs, taken with the boat to Darwin and held in detention as illegal immigrants. How frustrating, after surviving a trip like that.


Most of the boat is unpainted timber, the cabin is held together with rusty steel nails. The rigging is made from fencing wire. Below the waterline is coated with bitumen and lime.


The Australian artist, Ian Fairweather, tells of a similar journey in his autobiography. In Darwin during the war, Fairweather built a raft out of aeroplane fuel tanks and drifted out of Darwin harbour late one night. After drifting for a week or so he washed up on an Indonesian beach where he was arrested by the authorities and sent straight back to Darwin.