‘Conviction Cave to receive visitors in a year’s time’

KUCHING: Newly discovered ‘Conviction Cave’ at the Gunung Mulu National Park is expected to receive visitors in a year’s time after the state Forest Department has completed its studies.

According to Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg, one of the issues that had to be addressed was the narrow entry – a vertical shaft that goes down 100m and a 1km passage – that leads to the main chamber. Experienced guides would have to be commissioned if visitors planned to explore the cave.

“The Forest Department is currently carrying out a study on the Conviction Cave. Once finished, the cave will be open to the public. We expect the study to be completed in one year.

“The entrance is quite narrow. We have to provide a guide from the main cave going to that cave. Visitors would also need to acquire an experienced guide to explore the cave. The cave network goes all the way to Gunung Buda Range in Limbang,” he told a press conference after chairing the State Tourism Steering Committee annual meeting here yesterday.

The media conference was used to announce the state government’s plan to boost its tourism sector in the next five years and beyond.

The Conviction Cave was discovered by a famed British subterranean explorer Andy Eavis, who took 24 expeditions since 1977, to make the find. The cave is estimated to be at least six million years old and early indication shows the cave could be one of the 15 largest in the world.

Located just 15km from the Gunung Mulu National Park headquarters, the cave’s entrance is a hole on the ground – just large enough for a human – within an area called ‘The Hidden Valley’.

On another note, Abang Johari said that plans were afoot to establish a Wallace Centre in Santubong. He suggested that the Wallace’s bungalow would be repaired and upgraded for the purpose.

Naturalist and explorer Alfred Russell Wallace is famed for the collection of specimens including the Simunjan Butterfly that is on display at the Natural History Museum in Britain.

“The centre would be linked with the Darwin Centre (of the famed English naturalist and geologist Charles Darwin) in London, which would also link the Simunjan Butterfly as well as the evolution theory of natural selection. The Wallace Centre will become another avenue for Sarawak to attract researchers and scientists,” Abang Johari said.

Touching on the upgrade of heritage sites, he said a walkway project, costing RM5 million, was underway to connect Fort Margherita, with Kuching Waterfront. Other projects would include the beautification of the surrounding areas and the building of a cascading waterfall to be fitted with lighting system.

Abang Johari said the walkway would connect Pengkalan Sapi with the S-bridge at Pengkalan Batu.

Assistant Tourism Minister Datuk Talib Zulpilip, Assistant Minister of Culture and Heritage Liwan Lagang and permanent secretary to the Tourism Ministry Datu Ik Pahon Joyik were also present at the press conference.

 

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