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Big Tree Malaysia
Located on the Sungai (river) Niah, about 3 km from the small town
of Batu Niah, a 110 km to the south-west of Miri in northern
Sarawak. The Niah National Park was first gazetted as a National
Historic Monument in 1958, gazetted as National Park on 23 November
1974 and was published to the public on 1 January 1975. The Park is
one of Sarawak's smaller national parks, but it is certainly one of
the most important and has some of the most unusual visitor
attractions. The park's main claim to fame is its role as one of the
birthplaces of civilisation in the region. The oldest modern human
remains discovered in Southeast Asia were found at Niah, making the
park one of the most important archaeological sites in the world.
The Niah National Park, Sarawak is the site of the Niah Caves, one
of the largest limestone caves in the world. The Park covers 3,102
hectares (7,756 acres) of forest and limestone. The peak of Gunung
Subis, which is 394 meters high (1,294 ft), dominates the landscape.
One may explore the vastness of the Great Cave, where archaeologists
have discovered evidence of man's existence in Borneo dating as far
back as 40,000 years ago.
On display are the skull of a young Homo Sapien, some tools made out
of stone, bone and iron, and cave drawings. Anthropologists
established that the Niahian lived in the Caves from 40000 BC right
up to 1400 AD.
The Great Cave is not the only important archaeological site. The
Painted Cave, as its name suggests, houses detailed wall-paintings
depicting the boat journey of the dead into the afterlife. The
meaning of the paintings was explained by the discovery of a number
of “death-ships” on the cave floor - boat-shaped coffins containing
the remains of the deceased and a selection of grave-goods
considered useful in the afterlife, such as Chinese ceramics,
ornaments and glass beads. The death-ships have been dated as
ranging between 1 AD and 780 AD, although local Penan folklore tells
of the use of death-ship burials as late as the 19th century.
Yet there is much more to Niah than archaeology. A vast cave
swarming with bats and swiftlets; the thriving local economy based
on bird-nests and guano; ancient cave paintings; a majestic
rainforest criss-crossed with walking trails; abundant plant and
animal life - all these and more make up the geological, historical
and environmental kaleidoscope that is Niah.
Location Batu Niah Town, Miri
Lat 3.813889, Lon 113.783611
Natural Wildlife Reserve & Archaeological Site
Sarawak Forestry Department
Flora & Fauna
As more than half the park is covered with limestone, limestone
vegetation is the most common variety of plant life. The families of
Balsaminaceae and Begoniaceae are commonly seen at the entrance of
the Traders' and West Mouth Caves.
Peat swamp and mixed dipterocarp can also be found in the Niah.
Animals are not easy to spot, but if you are lucky you may catch a
glimpse of the park's inhabitants: long-tailed macaques, bulbuls,
trogons, squirrels, flying lizards, Rajah Brooke butterflies,
hornills, mouse-deer, and water monitors.
The Park Headquarters at Pengkalan Batu is accessible either from
Miri (109km or 2 hours by road) or Bintulu (131km or 3 hours from
The Park office ia about 3km from Batu Niah town and you have 3
modes of transportation to choose from:
1. Motorised longboat ride through delightful jungle scenery to the
2. Taxi from Batu Niah town is not so interesting but a good idea if
it is raining.
3. For the adventurous, a pleasant 45 minute stroll along the river
Time to Visit
January to December
Jungle-trekking, river cruise, fishing, guided nature walks,
wildlife observation, cave exploration, bird watching.