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Gawai 2011 Trek To “Lost” Tegora Antimony Mine

Guest written by Mr Jay Blakeney.

After two previous (failed) attempts to reach TEGORA Mine, we did not have a great deal of confidence at being able to reach it this trip…but since Gawai festivities were in full swing, we decided to combine another attempt to reach the mine with attendance at a GAWAI OPENING @ nearby Kpg Sogo. Thanks to Bombastic Borneo for a chance to publish/post this guest photo documentary on the trek…..”into the heart of Borneo”…

Horse carts carry Antimony & Cinebar from Tegora Mine to Bau (note mine entrance) The trek follows the old Railway grade which extended from Tegora Mine to Bau following the Sg. Tegora (tributary of Sg Sarawak Kanan). (Archives of Singapore National University…circa 1820s)

Antimony mining–of great importance in Sarawak’s early economy–started in Jambusan, Bau Dist. in 1823. Borneo Co. opened Tegora mine (@ Bengo Mtn Range) in 1867, and it was a principal source of Antimony & Cinnabar (from which mercury is obtained), until it was finally closed in 1916. It has a dark & sordid history as natives & convicts were forced to work in the mines.

The trek can be done from Kpg Seropak or Kpg Sogo..either way it requires about 8 hours to make the 15 km return trip. Most of route is along an old (1800’s) railway track along which horses drew cart-loads of antimony ore.

With the exception of the Cable Suspension Bridge near Kpg Seropak, most of the old railway bridges have washed away…so one needs to “wade” across or cross rivers and streams on high-level (flimsy) bamboo bridges.

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Upstream is a natural swimming pool & shaded by huge tapang trees–home to swarms of territorial honey bees as this (red-handed) trekker found out.

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Iron Bridge near Kpg Seropak leads to Tegora Mine in Bengo Mtn Ranges Bridge is now used by rubber tappers & trekkers on their way to Tegora.

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Planning the trek in shade of a palm tree

Near start point of the 8 hour trek trail passes open farms of Kpg Puak (near start of Tegora trek).

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Some specular Limestone Hills Near Kpg. Puak.

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Happy & clean @ start of trek

antimony, kampung seropak, sarawak, borneo, malaysia, tegora mines, railway, adventure, kuching, cave

Carpets of pitcher plants line parts of the Tegora trail.

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After leaving Kpg. Puak trek passes through area of open farms.

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More wet areas inhabited by hungry LEECHES!

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Tegora trek passes swampy areas making frequent leech checks a MUST!

MEMORIES OF TEGORA

Plentiful *(& hungry) leeches never leave you alone unless you are in midstream.  We planned our rest stops accordingly…….

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Rest break at an old abandoned Hunter’s Camp on a 2010 Tegora trek.

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Wading across many rivers, where original bridges are washed out…by banjir

After about 3 ½ hours trekking we reached Tegora mine site – overgrown & reminiscent of Angkor Wat in Borneo’s Jungle. It takes about an hour to walk around the ruined mine site – then 3 hours to trek back to Kpg Puak – making it a long but rewarding day’s trek into Sarawak’s distant colonial past.

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Old stone wall–possibly part of forced labour prison camp @ Tegora.

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Weigh scale used to measure cart loads of antimony hauled over the horse.

Old mine equipment slowly rusting away…

Smelting furnace buried in jungle.

Old bits & pieces of mining equipment litter the site

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Tall cement chimney-mid-jungle seems to compete with giant tapang trees.

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Giant strangler vines – seems everything is “big size” @ Tegora.

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Tegora mine site overgrown by twisted vines, creepers,? spirits?.

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Careful, crossing shakey & high soma pole bridges… as Jo-lynn found out too late….

The “Survivors” – @ Red Dragon before 8 hours return trek to Tegora mine

Thanks to Tan KP , Clement Lo, Jackie & Jo-lynn & guests of Batik Boutique Hotel & Ng Hong Dak, Tan Wee Ming, Kho CB, R.Basiuk (who took many of these great photos) & others who participated in previous “old timer’s Tegora Treks” & this one to Launch Gawai 2011”  !!!

Capt. J.

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6 Comments
  1. 2122 days ago
    Admin

    Thank you so much Jay for taking the time to write and share with us your expedition to Sarawak’s long lost and forgotten antimony mine. Hopefully after this the Sarawak Museum will make some effort to preserve/restore this precious part of history and turn it into a tourist attraction. And if that eventually happens we Sarawakians will know who to thank. We look forward to more contributions from you. Terima kasih.

    Reply
  2. 2122 days ago
    Henry Joseph

    Thank you for tagging this article in my Facebook.

    Reply
    • 2122 days ago
      Admin

      You are most welcomed

      Reply
  3. 2122 days ago
    jay

    Thank you for doing such a professional job or rearranging and captioning my text and photos for this article….i forgot to credit the photos…thanks to Ng Hong Dak, Tan Wee Ming, Clement Lo and others whose photos were used to supplement mine & thus enrich the quality of the article…j.

    Reply
    • 2122 days ago
      Admin

      I’m sure they will forgive you

      Reply
  4. 2122 days ago
    Matang

    Excellent photos & descriptions.
    More explorations soon.

    Reply

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