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Area of origin and progress

At the border of Siwa to kabupaten Luwu, a sign announces that this is 'the land of Sawerigading'. In the vicinity of the Cerekang river, between the current places of Wotu and Malili, the gods once descended, according to Buginese cronics. On this place, their descendant Sawerigading performed his legendaric deeds. Maybe the first Buginese kingdom, that could have been situated here in the 13th and 14th century, formed the base of the story.
In the following centuries the biggest positive thing of Luwu' was the prestige of the oldest kingdom with the very powerfull bissu. In fact the Buginese population of the kingdom had always been relatively limited, it's military and economical meaning was neglectible, but the sultanate had succeeded in getting taxes from a mass of different populations of Tana Toraja to Poso and even Kolaka. In the beginning the Dutch colonial regime reinforced this vague authority in 1904, and only at the end of the 1940's, Toraja and Kolaka were separated from Luwu.
In 1937, a new era started for Luwu as the open border of South-Sulawesi. Migrants created ricefields, where sagotrees had produced the main crop for centuries. The first Javanese 'colonists' which settled around Bonebone and Wotu, were supported by the Dutch, but had to go through terrible times in the following years. At the end of the 1960's, when the revolt of the Darul Islam had been stopped, this period ended. Since then the official 'transmigration' of Javanese and Balinese as the spontaneous migration from Toraja and others has been much more intense, which caused the population of Luwu' to grow very fast. Since 1975, these migrants are getting infrastructure in the form of roads and irrigation. Above all, one of the worlds biggest nickle mines is exploited in the eastern region of Luwu.

Visit to Luwu

Buses between Makassar and Luwu depart early in the morning from the main bus terminal. The trip goes towards the north to Parepare and then inland to Pangkajene, the capital of kabupaten Sidrap. This is the mos prosperous rice-growing district in South-Sulawesi. It got it's fertility thanks to the Dutch, which built an irrigation system in the 1930's for the Sa'dan. Harvesting happens twice a year. Commercialisation and mechanisation of agriculture has been evolved further than elsewhere.
Remarkable is the nice aristocratic house, which has ben brough over from Wajo and is now used as extra building of the government guesthouse behind the office of the bupati.
From Anabuana the road runs towards the east through Siwa, a pictureque town along Sungai Tuguerange. The land first is dry and infertile, with coconut trees and sawah's. Just beyond Padangsappa the road goes a little towards the coast, but heads for the inlands again to avoid the mangrove forests. It's a nice trip, with on the background the mountains of Central-Sulawesi, which are vaguely visible along the northern horison. Before Palopo the road offers a nice view over the bay. From Rantepao it's even better.


To get an impression of the surroundings of Palopo, the most important city of Luwu, you can best driver over the 1,5 km long pier which runs along the river into the bay. The neighborhood is dirty and smells bad, but you can see different types of boatd, among them the bagan: a platform with ropes used to get up fishing nets. At the end of the pier you have a nice view over the bay.
The mosque, which is built around 1603, is located across the post office. Mesjid Kuno Batupassi is probably the oldest in South-Sulawesi, founded when the area was converted to islam, it's directed towards the west instead of the northwest, as it should be. The stone walls are about one meter thick.

The royal graves (makam raja-raja), of which is said that they have been built by the same craftsman that built the mosque, are located in a pyramid-shaped tomb (lokkoh) with one dome.Normally tourists are not allowed on this holy place. The tomb maybe replaced a wooden lokkoh, like the Toraja use when there is no cave available.
Furthermore there is the little Batara Guru Museum in the houe of the former raja's. There is a swimming pool in Latuppa, and beaches can be found near Sawerigading (northeast of the city), Songka and Plywood Beach. The island of Lebukan is pleasurable.

From Palopo to Malili

The 188 km long trip takes about six hours, thanks to the good road which is part of 'Project Luwu'. The big dam, 21 km from Palopo, is part of a big irrigation project. In the north is the central mountain range, dominated by Gunung Kambuno (2861m) and Gunung Balease (3016m).
Travellers which like hitch-hiking and are in good condition, can visit the traditional centers of weaving in Rongkong, Seko and Malli, all north of Sabbang. Each village has it's own style. The original residents of these villages, the Toala, wear characteristic clothes. They are more easy to approach here than in the environment of Poso, where there is some suspicion against foreigners.
Take public transport from Sabbang to Limbung and take one day for the trip to Rongkong or take the kijang, if available. From Rongkong you can get to Seko in three days, and from there it's another two days to Makki. After that it's a heavy six-day trip from Galumpang to Rantepao. You can also go on foot from Galumpang to Tamlea to take a riverboat there. This trip is only for travellers which bring their own food and medication. From Masambar, north of Sabbang, you can walk to Danau Poso. The swampy coastal plain south of the road past Masamba is an important transmigration area. 20 km past Masamba you will find Katulungan, one of the oldest settlements in this area.
The center of this transmigration- and irrigationproject of the region is Bonebone (101km). This area knows a fascinating mix of cultures and populations. Ricesheds and wooden churches of the Toraja are located besides mosques, Javanese bungalows and Balinese temples. In some transmigration villages there are even wayang kulit-performances at certain occasions.
On 139 km is Wotu, a small town with a losmen. The prahu-harbor along the rover in the east is worth while a visit (the normal harbor, three km ahead is not). This could be a scene from a novel of Conrad, with houses above the water, fishing boats and small companies like woodmills at the edge of the water.
In Wotu, the only road connection with South- and Central-Sulawesi starts, the road towards Poso. The new road to Danau Poso runs through a very nice landscape. In the wet season it can happen that the road is washed away by landslides.
It is believed that Cerekang (175km) was the center of the old kingdom of Luwu'. The river Cerekang can be sailed on for 15 km towards the north. In this area, iron was mined for the production of knifes badik. The holy graves upstream are only to be visited with the permission of the kepala kampung in Cerekang. The god Batara Guru is said to descend here, and Sawerigading was bathing at a little river. Usu (184 km) doesn't show much of it's important role in the epic poem I La Galigo, however it had a magical meaning to the kings of Luwu'.

Malili and Saroako

Malili, what used to be a picturesque river town near Teluk Usu, was destroyed in the 1950's by the revolt, and completely rebuilt as a seaport for the project of Saroako. Near the sandy beaches of the island of Bulopeway, off the coast of Malili, you can swim nicely. According to a legend this island was formed when Sawerigading chopped down a huge wailendring-tree, which made the land fall apart and forced the Bajau onto the sea.
In 1968, PT Inco started it's business here. The complete gear and all supplies for this company were brought in by the seaport of Malili. In the beginning the headquarters were in MNalili, but they were later transferred to Saroako, in which only a small settlement near the harbor was left. The harbor area is the only place in the city where the company left it's traces, besides a school and hospital. There is a good road to Saroako however. Wasuponda is the first 'satellite-city' of Saroako; a few km ahjead is the turn to the second one, Wanandula, where the river is dammed for a power plant. In all three towns schools are built, in Wasuponda is a medical center, and in Saroako is a hospital for the employees of Inco.
The dense forests around Saroako was replaced by a huge mining complex, which changed this area suddenly from a farmers-area into a location with international concerns, with the newest techniques. Planes and choppers entered the area daily, which used to be reached only by long trips on foot; motorboats and waterski's disturbed the centuries-old rest on the lake; former ricefields are now a golf course and a village with airconditioning for the employers. Accept the (expensife) guesthouse from Inco, meant for guests, the town has losmen; there are several restaurants, as well as the canteen of Inco.
The company, that dominates the landscape with it's big machines, is one of the biggest nickle producers in the world. The western lifestyle of the mainly Indonesian workers is in exceptional contrast with the people in their environment. This has also caused troubles in the original village, which has grown over the limits of it's possibilities, and has also lost it's agricultural estates. There are compensations however; more wage, brought by the workers of Inco, improved communication, education, healthcare, electricity and water. Inco seems to aim towards restoring the damage they have done to the environment; there is also a demand that pollution is decreased in one of the biggest natural attractions of Sulawesi.

Danau Matana and Danau Towuti

Danau Matana, one of the deepest in the worls, has little fish: the botinu, a oddly shaped transparent fish; the opudi, and the kolami, a little river lobster. In the rocks around the lakes you will find graves. At the end of the lake is a village named Matana - 'this eye', where you can find a source which is seen as the source of this lake.
Danau Towuti, with a width of 48km the biggest on Sulawesi, is very beautiful. There is a bus connection from Malili to Wawondula and further to Timampu at the shore of the lake, but there are no facilities.
This northeastern tip of South-Sulawesi has attractions, the problems and the promis of the future expansion of the province. Saroako used to be an isolated village. Now it has a modern nickle-industry with two landing strips and a good connection to the sea. Since the province became accessible for tourists, the number of visitors increased rapidly. Improved communication broke the isolation. This has contributed to the unique character of this area. Question is whether the natural beauty, which was admired by Wallace, Brooke and others in the 19th century, will stay as it is because of the material progress.

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