Merauke: the Town at the East-most end of Indonesia
At each break of day, Merauke is the first town in the Indonesian Archipelago that catches the first rays of the rising tropical sun. As the capital city of the Merauke Regency in the province of Papua, Merauke is renowned as the most easterly territory in Indonesia; one that marks the eastern end of this vast span of the Indonesian Archipelago that is commonly measured from the town of Sabang on Weh Island, in the Aceh Province at the west-most end, all the way to Merauke in Papua in the east.
Merauke was first established as a military post by the Dutch in February 1902. The name Merauke itself is said to originate from an anecdote when the Dutch who began to settle among the indigenouspopulation of Marind Anim and Sohores, asked them for the name of the area. Misunderstanding the question, the locals pointed to the Maro River –the main river that passes the town - and said “Maro Ke” meaning “that is the River Maro”. Over time, “Maro Ke” evolved into Merauke and became established as the name of both the town and the regency.
Merauke was also the site of an Allied air base during World War II that witnessed battles between Australian and Japanese patrols that occurred in the area.
Covering a total area of 45, 071 square meters, the Merauke Regency is also known as one of the largest regencies in eastern Indonesia. It borders directly the neighboring country of Papua New Guinea in the east, Boven Digul and Mappi Regencies in the North, the Asmat Regency in the West, and the open Arafura Sea to its south. The regency consists of 20 districts, with the district town of Merauke being the most populated.
The town of Merauke is also known as the staging point for hikers before venturing into the pristinely enchanting Wasur National Park, which is roughly only about 60Km away. For travelers, Merauke offers the most facilities such as banks, internet cafes, airline agents, restaurants, markets, and accommodation. A walk around the town is easy and will reveal some incredible insight into the past. Old graveyards and lots of classic churches highlight the town, while cruising down the Maro River one can observe the daily life of Papuan fishermen. A trip to the local market will be an eye opener, as you encounter various uncommon items.
Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, and Sriwijaya Air serve daily flights to Merauke’s Mopah Airport from Jayapura, Makassar, and Jakarta. Every two weeks Pelni’s (Indonesia Sea Transportation Company) Tatamailau ship sails from Merauke to Agats and Sorong. The Kelimutu ship sails to Agats then sails through southern and Central Maluku, every four weeks.
Within and around the town of Merauke, there are a number of interesting sites worth visiting. For a start, the Sabang-Merauke Monument can confirm that you have indeed reached the east-most townIndonesia. As the name suggests, the monument is one of a pair of monuments, where the first stands in Sabang, Aceh Province, marking the west-most point of the Republic of Indonesia.
There is also the Pepera Monument which is the icon symbolizing the reunification of the Papua region into the Republic of Indonesia through a UN supervised referendum in 1969 known as Penentuan Pendapat Rakyat (Pepera) or the “Act of Free Choice”.
Aside from the Wasur National Park, the natural beauty of Merauke can also be found at the Lampu Satu Beach. The beach is located only 4km away from the center of Merauke and features a picturesque lighthouse which sheds beautiful light streaks from sunset. This is most probably what has given the beach its name since Lampu Satu in Bahasa Indonesia means “Single Light”. There is also the Natsai Beachwhich offers some beautiful panorama.
Accommodation and other facilities in Merauke are centered on the Jalan Raya Mandala Street. Here are among some of accommodation facilities available:
Jl. Raya Mandala no 53, Merauke,
Phone: +62 971 326 333
Fax: +62 971 326 222
Jl. Raya Mandala no.166, Merauke
Phone: +62 971 321 932
Jl.Raya Mandala No.23
Phone: +62 971 326 240
(sumber : www.visitindonesia.co.in)