Frank Pal­mos and Pat Price 1976

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“Guide books… should be re­garded a per­ish­able good and not some­thing last­ing. Af­ter many years they at­tain a cer­tain his­tor­i­cal value and some­times it’s good to look back at the beauty of a now de­stroyed place, or the cheap­ness of a tour through Java in days past.” So wrote Aus­tralian jour­nal­ist and his­to­rian Frank Pal­mos in the pre­scient in­tro­duc­tion to his ir­rev­er­ent and in­sight­ful guide­book to In­done­sia.

It’s nearly im­pos­si­ble to find a copy these days. Lonely Planet’s Across Asia on the

Cheap was first pub­lished in 1975 and spawned an em­pire of travel guide­books. Bill Dal­ton’s de­tailed In­done­sia Hand­book first ap­peared in 1977 and re­mains well known. But the most en­ter­tain­ing book in the cat­e­gory is In­done­sia Do-It-Your­self.

Pal­mos and his then-wife Pat Price tell us ex­actly what In­done­sia was like in the 1970s: the sex, drugs, gam­bling, pol­i­tics, lousy ac­com­mo­da­tion and so much more. A Jakarta ho­tel is de­scribed as “a mov­ing garbage heap” but the re­view then states the owner claims to be “im­prov­ing the place and of­fers dis­counts to those car­ry­ing this book.” With a bit of luck, this book will be re­pub­lished as an In­done­sian clas­sic.

Dr Frank Pal­mos (cen­tre) with East Java Gover­nor H Soekarwo and West­ern Aus­tralian Trade Of­fi­cer Mar­tin New­bery at the the­sis han­dover (Image taken from IN­DONE­SIA NOW with Dun­can Gra­ham: in­done­

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