Ballarat community celebrates Indonesian Independence Day

Food brings people together and for Indonesian Independence Day it’s central to the festive atmosphere of the celebration.

Ballarat’s small Indonesian community gathered to to mark the 72nd Indonesian Independence Day and the separation of the archipelago from more than 300 years of Dutch rule.

“In Indonesia it’s a very big public holiday, then everybody in the village cleans up the yard and paints and then there’s food and lots of different games,” said Ballarat Region Indonesian Community president Linda Craggs.

The hall of the One2One church was festooned with Indonesian flags as members each cooked dishes for a communal lunch.

Nasi goreng, chilli eggs, rice, beef rendang and traditional cakes and sweets were on the menu as they would be in their home country on a festive day.

“Today we had some speeches, played the Indonesian anthem, enjoyed some lunch then had dancing and games,” Ms Craggs said.

Traditional games played on independence day, which is also known Hari Kemerdekaan, include sack racing, climbing palm trees, dancing and other fun activities.

CROONER: Noldi belts out a song at Indonesian Independence Day celebrations with members of the Ballarat Region Indonesian Community Association. Picture: Kate Healy

CROONER: Noldi belts out a song at Indonesian Independence Day celebrations with members of the Ballarat Region Indonesian Community Association. Picture: Kate Healy

Ms Craggs has lived in Ballarat for 26 years but the association only formed in March after members of the Indonesian community gathered to be part of the Ballarat Begonia Festival.

Most members of the group have been in Ballarat for less than a decade.

Ms Craggs said it was important for Indonesian people to remain connected to their culture and the group promoted social connections within the community.

“There are so many people depressed because there is not enough socialising, so we get together, have fun together and have lots of food,” she said.

“And for that reason we welcome everyone, not just Indonesian people, because getting together is better than staying at home.

“Food brings us together in Indonesia and in Australia. It’s a very traditional thing with all of the members cooking then sharing a meal.”

Ms Craggs said there was renewed interest in the Indonesian culture with many school students learning Indonesian as a second language.

“Many people think they know Indonesia because they know Bali, but actually we are a big nation with 27 different dialects and cultures so there is real variety,” she said.