Dare Memorial Commemorates its 44th Anniversary

11 Oct

13 April, 2013

Wreath-laying at the memorial site

Wreath-laying at the memorial site

Chair of the Dare Memorial Museum & Cafe Board, Mr Gerald Kenneally, and members of the Australian and Timorese armed forces pay tribute to the memory of those who perished during the 2nd World War.

Chair of the Dare Memorial Museum & Cafe Board, Mr Gerald Kenneally, and members of the Australian and Timorese armed forces pay tribute to the memory of those who perished during the 2nd World War.


This year the community of Fatunaba, together with members of the Board of the Dare Memorial Museum and Café and representatives of Government, F-FDTL, the Australian Forces, tertiary institutions and civil society organisations celebrated this historic site’s anniversary with a trek from Matadouro in Dili to the memorial site, a series of addresses and a community feast.

Chairman of the Board of the Dare Memorial Museum and Café, Mr Gerald Kenneally, spoke about the legacy of his father, Paddy Kenneally, who served in Timor during the 2nd World War and went on to be one of Australia’s most passionate and vocal activists. Paddy sought acknowledgment from the Australian government for the services of the Timorese who lost their lives in the tens of thousands whilst assisting Australian commandos. Those battles still continue today.

Also serving on the Board and delivering some words of greeting and reflection on the day were Mr James Dexter, Director Creative and Regional Development at the Western Australian Museum. In addition to having passionately supported the Western Australian Museum’s hosting of the “Debt of Honour” exhibition, Mr Dexter has a special personal connection to Timor-Leste and its wartime history, being the son of Captain David Dexter, a member of the 2/2nd Commando Association.

Mr James Dexter, Commander Falur (F-FDTL), Vice-Minister for Preschool and Basic Education, Ms Dulce Soares and Mr Gerald Kenneally

Mr James Dexter, Commander Falur (F-FDTL), Vice-Minister for Preschool and Basic Education, Ms Dulce Soares and Mr Gerald Kenneally

The Museum Board and community were grateful for the participation of the Vice-Minister for Preschool and Basic Education, Ms Dulce Soares, who spoke of the memorial and Museum’s significance in providing the nation’s children with an understanding of the sacrifices and hardship on which the country’s independence has been built.


Vice-Minister of Preschool and Basic Education, Ms Dulce Soares, addresses the gathering

Vice-Minister of Preschool and Basic Education, Ms Dulce Soares, addresses the gathering


Veterans return to the battle grounds in East Timor

29 Aug

A group of veterans has returned to the northern Australian city of Darwin after an emotional visit to the battle grounds in East Timor, where they fought in World War Two.

The men of operation ‘Sparrow Force’ were few in number, but successfully delayed the advance of more than 20-thousand Japanese troops towards Australia in 1942.

This trip marks the 70th anniversary of Australia’s engagement in World War Two on the island.

Read the Order of Service here


Radio Australia interview with the men of “Sparrow Force”:


Dili: Savour the best of the Leste By James Rose (New Zealand Herald)

17 Aug

Dili: Savour the best of the Leste

By James Rose

Timor-Leste still retains an unspoiled charm, writes James Rose.

A golden sunset in Dili, Timor-Leste. Photo / Getty Images

A golden sunset in Dili, Timor-Leste. Photo / Getty Images

At the eastern edge of Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste, a giant statue of Jesus stands high on a rock. From here the coast sweeps around majestically until it hits the long, wooden Pertamina Wharf, owned and padlocked by the eponymous Indonesian state-owned gas and oil company, to the west.

From this coastal sweep, Dili reaches back to hinterland, clogged roads and broad, chaotic boulevards running through dusty neighbourhoods, which quickly give way to lush forest and towering peaks.

You wouldn’t want to spend a great deal of time here, but as an embarkation point and a base, Dili is not without charm.

Colonialism has left an indelible stain on Timor-Leste, known widely as TL.

Dili’s Chega! Museum was once a prison used both by Indonesians and the Portuguese when they were in power. It offers a harrowing insight into colonial repression.

Some cells remain as they were used. Measuring roughly two metres by two metres, each held up to 25 prisoners at a time, sometimes for months. Their graffiti and sweat stains still mark the walls.

Santa Cruz Cemetery is also worth a visit, if only to recall the massacre of more than 250 peaceful Timorese mourners here in 1991, an event that escalated the country’s fractious path to independence.

The Dare Memorial and Museum, just outside Dili, commemorates the Timorese peoples’ role in fighting the Japanese occupation of Timor during World War II.

There is little nightlife in Dili, partly because of the generally conservative Christian culture, partly because there’s no infrastructure for it. This could be seen as a virtue; Southeast Asia surely has enough booze-drenched, sexed-up, neon-lit hot-spots.

Dili’s tourism planners are conscious of the strengths of differentiation and Timor-Leste is being developed, as one local insider tells me, as “low volume, high value, eco-based and community oriented”.

The pitfalls of “Balinisation” are all-too-well understood in this half-island nation.

Here, you’re unlikely to find hawkers, pirate-copy shops or brands, sex trading, drugs or “trailer trash” lording it in the so-called Third World.

What barter there is is gentle and good-natured. Even taxis drivers don’t haggle much if you offer a fair foreigner premium.

Outside the capital, the few roads caress and hug breathtaking scenery. Along the coastal strip, scalloped by white sandy bays, each curve reveals awesome views as the road drops and sweeps around the edges of a landmass that drops swiftly into the sea.

Heading inland can be rough driving, but you will quickly dive into a world of lush jungle, a haven for Timor’s past generations of guerrilla fighters, which surprises by virtue of being so close to the capital.

Heading out of Dili on the coastal plain and a straight road, we pass through tiny villages with log and thatch stalls abutting the narrow, one-lane “highway”.

UN vehicles, as elsewhere in the developing world, charge through with an air of importance, as does a government motorcade. Black pigs, pretty-faced goats, small, sleek cattle and water buffalo see the road as less malevolent than they should and plod across it, oblivious to traffic.

TL has some of the world’s best, most pristine dive sites. About an hour outside Dili, at a spot about an hour off-shore, we’re plunging into clear, bath-warm water to marvel at teeming cities of colourful coral and vibrant, slow-moving fish. Purples, iridescent blues, orange stripes and shimmering blacks vie for attention while pastel-coloured corals invite exploration into further centres of life.

“Vis”, as they say in the business, is a good 30m.

After a morning of stunning dives, we wander along the “highway” to a tiny village of thatched huts and curious kids.

The Timorese seem friendly enough, but very shy, and still a little uncomfortable with foreigners. You get the feeling they want to be nice but aren’t sure how. Few speak English, especially outside Dili, so sign language and awkward smiles are the lingua franca.

A lunch of fresh open-roasted fish, pulled out of the water we’ve just been diving in, and balls of white rice wrapped in cute, woven vine containers – the perfect sustainable packaging – is eaten on the beach. Friendly neighbourhood dogs clean up the scraps.

The water we have been diving in eventually deepens to 3000m. It shallows again at Atauro Island.

The island greets newcomers on the daily ferry from Dili with palm frond-lined beaches dotted by simple huts hugging white sandy beaches. This rocky, densely forested link in a chain of volcanic islands spreads out like a setting for Survivor. Mist swirls up from the island’s depths, promising to reveal a skull cave Bond villain lair.

For visitors, the lodges are the island’s hub as tourist infrastructure is mostly absent. Tua Koin is a simple eco-lodge with comfortable rooms and bamboo balconies overlooking the deep blue beyond. Perfect for a late-afternoon cold one.

The huts are made from local materials and to an indigenous design. All profits here go back to the local community and a sense of eco-consciousness is refreshingly infused throughout.

Top-quality diving shelves abound. In water this clear it feels like floating in glass. For those needing to work up a sweat, a jaunt up 995m-high Mt Maucoco will do the job. Spending a day walking up and back, flopping in for a swim and having a cool drink on the balcony is about as good as it gets and a Timor highlight.

Atauro is a place to go to escape the real world. The gently lapping water and the pulse of the jungle replace traffic and phones as your aural backdrop. This is the language of TL.

This tiny country is just now reaching out to the world and is still a little startled to discover the world is willing to reach back.

Tourism here is something of a battleground. While mostly good people seem to be running things now, it may get ugly if development dollars begin to flood in.

My advice: go there before that happens.


Getting there: Airnorth flights from the Gold Coast (OOL) to Darwin (DRW) depart every Wednesday and Thursday via Mount Isa. Airnorth flies Darwin to Dili, six days a week.

Where to stay: Accommodation options are limited, even in Dili. Hotels tend to be three-star at best, but Hotel Esplanada, on the beach strip in Dili, has clean rooms with en suites, TV/DVD, pool and a nice restaurant overlooking the water.

Getting around: Taxis are easy to get in Dili, generally around $1-$3 for anywhere in the city and drivers will barter. Drivers for longer trips are plentiful and inexpensive, as are rental cars. Getting away from Dili can be challenging, as the roads are few and very inconsistent.

Money: US dollars are used. You’ll get some of your exchange change in local currency, which is largely useless for foreigners.

James Rose was a guest of Airnorth.


Stunning Views with a Slice of History (a review)

31 May

The Dare Memorial Cafe offers you stunning views over Dili whilst you sip a cup of coffee and take in the history of this unique monument to the sacrifices of the East Timorese people in the service of friendship and regional peace:

Dare Memorial Museum & Cafe

Dare is well worth the drive on a Saturday or Sunday morning. It’s not open during the week so save it up for a weekend brunch date. Its about 25 minutes up into the hills overlooking Dili at an old memorial to the Australian soldiers who fought here in WWII and their East Timorese ‘kriados’ or “helpers/friends”. The place opened in early 2009 and is suprisingly chic for its location. There is a very informative little movie about the place and history of East Timor during WWII and Australias involvement plus some interesting posters documenting this period. Combined with the views and the knowledge, the money supports the local school and it’s a must do if you’re free on the weekend, especially if you’re Australian. The plunger coffee is good, very tasty range of toasted sandwiches and savoury pancakes. Coffee $2.50 and food $4. To get there drive up on the road past Taibesse markets on the road to Ainaro, then keep and eye out for a memorial plaque on the right hand side of the road heading up. Highlight has to be the great view of Dili with the metro chic crockery. Rating 7.5/10

(From Restaurant Guide to Dili) – http://navigatedili.com/Restaraunt2.html

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Honouring the Past, Nurturing the Future…

15 May

The Dare Memorial Museum and Café facility was inaugurated on 25 April 2009 to celebrate the bonds of friendship which united Australian soldiers and the many thousands of East Timorese civilians who assisted them during the 2nd World War. And to remember the heavy price paid by the people of now independent Timor-Leste for that same support and friendship …