Atauro Island is situated approximately 22 nautical miles (36kms) to the north of Dili, on the extinct Wetar segment of the volcanic Inner Banda Arc. The island is 25 kms long, 9 kms wide, and about 105km² in area, with a mountainous spine and narrow coastal plains. Two deep straits; the Ombai (5000m deep) and Wetar (3000m deep): meet at the northern and southern ends of the island. Some of the best coral reefs in the world are home and breeding ground of hundreds of species of fish, fringe the island.
The mountains are mostly limestone with some volcanic rock formations. The highest of them, Manucoco (995m), figures in many of our legends and is regarded as sacred.
Historically Atauro was used by both the Portuguese and Indonesian governments as a place of exile. Its isolation made it a natural prison for dissidents and resistance supporters. The Portuguese fled here from Dili for safety in 1975. Atauro’s isolation again protected the Atauro community from destruction in 1999 and 2006.
The Atauro community of approx 10,500 people, mostly subsistence fishermen and farmers, live in five districts (Sucos) spread over the island. The main centres of Maquili, Vila, Beloi and Biqueli are along the east coast while Macadade is in the mountains. Small communities live in isolated hamlets in the mountains and along the coast.
The Atauro people are descendants from three clans, Adade, Humungili and Manroni. There are three languages spoken on the island as well as Tetun. Each clan has its own stories, songs, music and dance. The majority of people are Protestant (65%) and the remainder are Roman Catholic (35%). Animism, traditional customs, beliefs and practices are still very much a part of daily life in certain villages on Atauro.
Many Thanks to all our special guests, friends and family who have been integral in the design process of Barry’s Place Atauro. The functionality, simplicity, serenity and calming ambience of our humble lodge was built from collective ideas through like-minded people who believe in our vision of living sustainably, frugally yet comfortably with Mother Nature...... without having her ‘groan!’
Care of the Earth, Care of its People!