Monday, August 16, 2010

Labrador Nature Reserve

Singapore has a number of parks and nature areas, administered under its "National Park" system.  For those in the United States, our vision of a National Park might be one of large expanses of land, such as Yosemite or Yellowstone.  As Singapore is a small sovereign city state, its National Park government agency manages reserve areas that scale from the equivalent of a city park to a very small national monument in the United States.  One of these reserves is an area not far from our flat--  Labrador Nature Reserve.  The area is at the southern tip of Singapore, and was once a fortification that protected Singapore from invaders attacking from the southern waters.  History indicates mostly success with this strategy, however Singapore fell quickly to the Japanese during World War II-- in less than one week.  The invasion came by land through Malaysia in the north, a stunning blow to the British Empire.  The gun batteries at this fortification fired galantly during the invasion, however their primary design and the munitions available for them were more suited to sinking ships than deterring and inflicting damage on land forces.
Today the reserve area has nature walks, beach area, and picnic sites.  A pier left over from a former oil terminal constructed in the mid 1960's allows fishing and nature study.  (It is closed to the public except by permit, primarily for student groups).
Dragons Teeth Gate (Long Ya Men)-- This rock formation, once called Batu Berlayar or "Sailors Rock" in Malay, marked an entry area notorious for pirates. In 1819 William Farquar established New Harbor, later called Keppel Harbor in this area. The British blew up the rock 1848 to expand and deepen the harbor. This is a replica, reconstructed from a painting of the rock from the 1840s.
Fortress Gate-- This brick wall once included a steel gate that guarded access to the gun emplacements on the top of the hill at Labrador.
These fortifications were gun emplacements at Labrador which protected the south end of Singapore from invasion. The guns saw action in WWII but were ineffective in stopping the Japanese invasion of 1942.

Looking down the barrel-- This is one of the 7" Rifled Muzzle Loading (R.M.L) gun that was installed at Labrador in 1896. Later modifications were made to use 6" guns.

The Pier--  at Labrador N.R. was built in the 1960s for a refinery, now closed and taken back by the Singapore government for inclusion in the park.

Even some nature in the nature reserve--  Some large diffenbachia growing wild in Labrador N.R.

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