This ferry port at Bali’s westernmost tip-88 km from Singaraja and 134 km from Denpasar-links Bali with East Java across a narrow strait, Selat Bali. Looming up purple through the haze to the west are three of Java’s most easterly volcanoes. Much of Bali’s imports and exports, and most of its domestic tourists, pass through this point. Except as an around-the-clock ferry terminus, Gilimanuk has little to offer tourists, who usually alight the ferry or landing barges from Java and shoot straight through to Denpasar or Lovina. But with its basic no-frills services and amenities, Gilimanuk is a friendly little town for stopovers, for resting up.
The strait that separates Java and Bali, less than three km wide and only 60 meters in depth, is said to have been formed by some mythical king who, hoping to excommunicate his son, gouged a line with his finger along the ground. Then the earth parted and the waters of the Indian Ocean and the Java Sea rushed in, separating Bali from Java. It was an easy matter for Neolithic humans hunting in the primeval wilderness of East Java to cross this narrow strait. During WW II, stone adzes and pottery fragments were discovered just two km south of Gilimanuk at Cekik. Over time, about 100 burial places were excavated-containing funerary objects, simple tools, earthenware vessels, and sacrificed animals-demonstrating that this was Bali’s earliest human settlement discovered to date.
See these Neolithic artifacts in the Bali Museum in Denpasar, the Archaeological Museum in Pejeng, the archaeological project at Sanglah, and at Gilimanuk’s Museum of Ancient Life north of the Bay of Gilimanuk.
Gilimanuk shows a greater influence from Islamic Java than other parts of Bali. In fact, it was from Java that Balinese revolutionaries derived their material and ideological sustenance in their fight to oust the Dutch. In Cekik a war memorial commemorates landing operations by the Indonesian army, navy, and police on Bali from April to July 1946.
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