Exhibition

Black Armada

Australian support in upholding Indonesian independence

Black Armada exhibition poster.

Explore with us the history of the Black Armada and Australia’s role in the Indonesian independence struggle.

  • About

    About

    Armada Hitam - Dukungan Australia dalam mempertahankan kemerdekaan Indonesia

    When the Dutch returned to Indonesia at the end of World War II after independence had been declared, a trade union-led campaign against Dutch shipping – called the Black Armada – was conducted by Australian wharfies with the support of Chinese, Indian and Indonesian sailors who refused to crew Dutch ships. The campaign spread and eventually led to Australian government support for Indonesian independence and its recognition in 1949. This exhibition tells the story of a period of strong friendship between the two nations that has largely been forgotten in both countries.

    Dr. Sukarno's ministers Tony Rafty, c. 1945. Artist Tony Rafty met and became friends with President Sukarno. National Library of Australia.

    A forgotten story

    At the end of World War II in August 1945, Indonesians declared their independence from Dutch colonial rule. The declaration began a four-year-long political and military struggle.

    From late 1945, Dutch ships in Australian ports preparing to return to Indonesia with military arms and personnel were paralysed by a series of black-bans by maritime trade unions. These ships were later called the Black Armada.

    Support for Indonesian independence then grew beyond the labour movement and Australia led the way in international political recognition of Indonesia.

    This central moment in the Indonesian struggle for independence is an amazing story that has largely been forgotten in both nations.

    A scene from the 1946 Joris Ivens film Indonesia Calling showing Indonesian seamen listening to a short-wave radio for news of Indonesia’s declaration of independence.  National Film and Sound Archive Australia.

    Display Highlights

    • The important 1946 film Indonesia Calling by exiled Dutch film director Joris Ivens and narrated by Peter Finch.

    Discover more

    • Get an in-depth understanding of Australia's support for Indonesian independence with our Digital Story
    • Read more about the Black Armada on our blog

    EXHIBITION TOURING DATES AND VENUES

    Agung Rai Museum of Art. Jl. Raya Pengosekan

    27 October - 3 November 2016

    Support partners

    This exhibition is supported by the Commonwealth through the Australia-Indonesia Institute of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with assistance from the Embassy of The Republic of Indonesia, Canberra.

     

     

     

     

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  • Photo Gallery

    Photo Gallery

    Indonesian dead, Soerabaya Tony Rafty, 1945. British forces initially supported the Dutch re-occupation of Indonesia. But after the battle for Surabaya from 27 October to 20 November 1945 ¬- the bloodiest single engagement of the war for independence - Britain grew reluctant to be involved. National Library of Australia.Dutch soldier fully armed at the elert [alert] throughout the streets Tony Rafty, c. 1945. Tony Rafty was an Australian War Artist Correspondent in Indonesia in late 1945. Rafty became a well-known Australian newspaper cartoonist and caricaturist. National Library of Australia.A scene from the 1946 Joris Ivens film Indonesia Calling showing Indonesian seamen listening to a short-wave radio for news of Indonesia’s declaration of independence. National Film and Sound Archive Australia.SS Moreton Bay was one of the vessels chartered in 1945 by the Dutch Government-in-Exile in Australia preparing to return to its colony of Netherlands East Indies, now Indonesia. The Moreton Bay was one of many ships affected by the waterside workers black bans. ANMM Collection.Dr. Sukarno's ministers Tony Rafty, c. 1945. Artist Tony Rafty met and became friends with President Sukarno. National Library of Australia.
  • Tour Dates

    Tour Dates

    Learn more about the fascinating history of the Black Armada (Armada Hitam) and Australia’s role during the Indonesian Independence struggle. 

    To enquire about hosting this fascinating display consisting of one short film and graphic panels at your library, museum or other venue, please email touringexh@anmm.gov.au.

    Exhibition touring dates and venues

    Agung Rai Museum of Art. Jl. Raya Pengosekan

    27 October - 3 November 2016

    Other touring exhibitions

    We've developed a diverse range of travelling exhibitions that range in scale from highly mobile, cost-effective and ready-to-hang picture shows through to smart, modular-designed and interactive 3D exhibitions developed primarily for family audiences.

    Visit our Touring Exhibitions page to see what else is on tour or how you can make a booking for your venue.