Lanie’s middle name bears the legacy of her parents’ sailing trip through the Indonesian archipelago



Lanie Wayan Harris has no Balinese blood and was not born in Indonesia.

But his middle name is the legacy of his family history, which is closely linked to Indonesia.

The name – Wayan – tells the story of a trip Lanie’s parents took over 40 years ago.

In 1975, Heather and Martin Harris, then in their mid-twenties, drove Australia’s east coast before continuing north.

They flew to Timor, planning to jump on a freighter bound for Bali.

The ship never arrived, but a chance encounter gave them another option.

“We were in this little [homestay], and Martin came home one terribly shocked day and said, “I met this fascinating man, and he’s a lone American sailor, and he recreates Bligh’s journey,” Heather says.

William Bligh was a British navigator adrift from his ship in 1789, when his crew mutinied near Tahiti. He traveled more than 5,000 kilometers to Timor on a 6-meter sailboat, before continuing to Jakarta.

Heather and Martin thought it would only take about a week for them to follow the route taken by William Bligh.(

Provided: NPG


Bill Verity, the American sailor, invited Heather and Martin on his trip.

“I remember asking, ‘How long will this take, Bill? And he said, ‘Oh, about a week. I thought, I can handle a week in an open boat.

The plan was to head west to the islands off Sumba, pass Sumbawa and Lombok before reaching Bali.

But the conditions on board were difficult. With almost no wind to propel the sails, they drifted slowly for days.

A week turned into two, then three.

“It was… cramped, but it was open, so you’re sitting in the open air,” Heather recalls.

“Very hot during the day, once the sun is up, quite pleasant at night, but very busy.”

Sometimes they reached dry land.

Harris' trip to Bali in 1975
Martin and Heather crossed the Kupang Islands in Timor to Bali.(

Graphics: Jarrod Fankhauser


“I almost collapsed”

Heather and Martin were visiting the villages and getting supplies. But they rarely found everything they needed.

Sent by Bill one afternoon to find gasoline for the ship’s engine, they found themselves climbing a mountain on Sumbawa, only to find that the island had no vehicles, and therefore no fuel needed. .

A large photo shows lush green hills, fields and trees on Sumbawa Island, Indonesia.
Heather and Martin could not find gasoline on the carless island of Sumbawa.(

Flickr: a_rabin


Heather remembers trudging through the tropical humidity with the afternoon sun beating down hard.

“The heat that day… I almost collapsed.”

But she also remembers cruising in an island cove at sunrise and, in the early morning light, seeing locals looking curiously at the small sailboat with three Westerners on board.

A small boat floating in the water
The boat the trio were traveling in often stopped because there was no wind.(



She remembers the pristine landscape, the clear water and, more than anything, her excitement of being immersed in a culture so different from her own.

“I was just captivated by it. There was an otherness about it.”

“It was all just fascinating to me.”

Despite their initial vertigo, after three weeks, Heather, Martin and Bill were exhausted and malnourished.

But the worst was to come.

A sketch of parts of a boat
A sketch of the boat used by William Bligh in the 18th century.(



Remember how dangerous the trip was

Their last stage, from Lombok to Bali, was not far but their marked route would take them through the Lombok Strait, famous for its powerful currents and strong winds.

At dusk, they left Lombok. A few hours later, Heather saw the lights of Denpasar in the distance. Then strong winds started to set in.

The lights went out, before disappearing out of sight. In the dark, thunder struck and the rain started to rain.

A bearded man wearing a sweater
Bill Verity invited Heather and Martin to travel to Bali by boat, before continuing his trip to the island of Java.(



But by morning, the storm had calmed down. They spotted the land on the horizon, cuddling the boat towards it.

“We stumbled all the way to Bali, not knowing where we were,” she told the ABC.

“We thought we missed Bali and went to Java. There was very little water left, hardly any food.

“And I said to Martin, ‘I don’t care where we are, I’ve had enough.'”

balinese people
The couple met locals on their trip and said they were friendly and kind.(



The trip changed her life

After nearly a month at sea, Bali was a refuge, and she welcomed Heather with open arms.

She was amazed.

“I loved Bali … [These were] some of the most beautiful people I have ever seen. They were absolutely gorgeous. ”

But it wasn’t just the beauty that captivated her.

People gather by the sea, some of them are children
They say the friendly people of Bali immediately made them forget about the challenges they faced during the sea voyage.(



Heather had never traveled abroad before, and her visit to Bali changed the way she understood her own life.

“They are paying attention,” she said.

“I worked a lot abroad [since that trip], in various countries. The first time I returned, the three things I noticed were how fast we were all moving, how fat we were, and how obsessed we were with time and money. It hit me like a ton of bricks. “

But Heather’s story is far from the typical “moving to Bali to find me” trope.

Heather Harris now
Heather has returned to Indonesia dozens of times since her first visit in the 1970s.(

ABC News: Mariah Papadopoulos


A few years after their trip, Heather and Martin welcomed a daughter.

They had traveled all over Asia, but their experience in Bali marked them and they chose a Balinese middle name.

They named their daughter Lanie Wayan Harris.

A large photo shows green hills, fields and rice paddies in northern Bali.
Heather says it’s the hills of northern Bali that she admires the most.(

Flickr: Jacques Beaulieu


“Wayan is a very common name up there… firstborn [means] Wayan, so we gave him Wayan. “

As a young mother, Heather took her children to Bali.

A mother with her daughter sitting on her lap
Lanie says their parents’ trip will always be in her heart.(



She despises the bustling tourist districts of the south and has always spent her travels escaping in the hills of the north.

Now a grandmother, Heather was joined by Lanie and her children on pre-pandemic trips.

“I’ve been around the world… but I love Indonesia, it’s a beautiful, beautiful country. I have been there 30 or 40 times.

As for Lanie, she says she will pass the story of her middle name on to her grandchildren in the future.

“I really enjoyed hearing their story, especially on the trip,” says Lanie.

“I was very happy to be brought to Bali with my mother… now I also have children and we visited Indonesia together.”

Read the story in Bahasa Indonesian



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