A park with a view: Rifle Range Nature Park

16 11 2022

The 66 ha Rifle Range Nature Park, which opened on Saturday, adds to Singapore’s growing list of wonderful publicly accessible parks that, placed on fringes of Singapore’s nature reserves, act as buffers to protect the forest reserves. These nature parks offer a chance for all of us in Singapore to do some forest bathing and take in some of Singapore’s natural beauty without adding to the pressures on our fragile forests.

The former Sin Seng Quarry turned freshwater wetland.

Singapore’s latest nature park takes its name from Rifle Range Road, which served as the access road to Bukit Timah Rifle Range. The range was built in 1924 by the Public Works Department, primarily to serve the Singapore’s volunteer forces. By 1930, the road was named after the rifle range, which later became the home of the Singapore Gun Club.

The former quarry and the viewing deck 31 metres above the freshwater wetland.

Rifle Range Nature Park, which is home to a wealth of biodiversity with more than 400 species of flora and 300 species of fauna (including the critically endangered Sunda Pangolin and Leopard Cat), features 7 km of boardwalks and hiking trails — the longest amongst all the nature parks. Some of its highlights is the former Sin Seng Quarry turned freshwater wetland, and, best of all, a wonderful viewing deck (Colugo Deck) that provides a breathtaking view of the wetland and beyond from 31 metres above!

For more information on the nature park and what it offers, do visit: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/gardens-parks-and-nature/parks-and-nature-reserves/rifle-range-nature-park.


Rifle Range Nature Park offers 7km of boardwalks and hiking trails
The visitor pavilion, which takes inspiration from the baffles of a rifle range.
The roof deck of the Visitor Pavilion.
The rain garden.
On the Gliders Boardwalk.
A Malay Viscount.
A shelter — made of mass engineered timber.
Cleverly designed lightning conductors line the boardwalks, featuring the fauna of the park.
A Malayan Colugo, seen in the vicinity in October 2018. The species, which is known for its distinctive skin membrane — which inspired the design of the Colugo Deck, has a near-threatened conservation status.

For the kids – the Forest Exploration Trail


Colugo Trail, which leads up to the Colugo Deck


Views from Colugo Deck


More photographs from opening day, 12 Nov 2022


Advertisement




Making the cut (rubber and the forgotten art of rubber tapping)

6 06 2017

The cultivation of rubber, once the mainstay of the Malayan economy, has left a mark not just on our northern neignbours, Malaysia, but also here in Singapore. Clusters of aging rubber trees or even individual trees in Singapore’s less developed parts mark former rubber plantations, the largest of which are found on Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong. In the northwest, a pier turned sea pavilion, built to move rubber out of a long isolated area of Singapore in the 1920s, also recalls a business on which many fortunes were made (and lost) and in the west, two surviving dragon kilns speak of the pottery making trade fed by the demand for clay latex cups from the many plantations. There is also a little corner of a former rubber plantation in the northeast in which its past is commemorated by five old rubber trees found in a corner. The five are all that remain of hundreds that a Japanese monk had planted to acknowledge the donation of the plot by the plantation’s owners – to be used as a burial place for hundreds of karayuki-san who died penniless.

Latex being collected in a clay latex cup – many kilns were established across Singapore, including the two surviving dragon kilns at Jalan Bahar, to produce these cups.

One of the things I found fascinating as a child was the sight of rubber tappers moving from tree to tree that I would catch on the many drives to Malaysia. From comfort breaks taken in and around rubber estates – due to their isolation – I could see the results of the tappers’ actions. The cuts made on the trees’ bark were quite visible as were the cups of latex. What I was not able to see close up however was how the tapper actually made the cut; that is, until just a few days ago when I was able to catch a demonstration of the art. The live demo (see video below) was performed by a retired rubber tapper, Uncle Ah Ha, as part of an Outward Bound School (OBS) UBiNavigate 2017 trail organised for Pesta Ubin 2017.

An old rubber press in the OBS area of Pulau Ubin – in surprisingly good condition.

UBiNavigate also gave its participants the opportunity to explore the western part of Pulau Ubin. An area in which OBS operates, the area is normally off-limits to the general public. Once where Ong Seng Chew owned a rubber estate, this corner of the island is still filled with many reminders of that past such as an old rubber press lying in a bed of tree fall, broken bottles that once held the enzymes required for the rubber production process, and rubber trees that have long been abandoned.

Part of the UBiNavigate trail taking participants through the relatively unexplored western side of Ubin.

Several aspects of Ubin’s much storied past were also in evidence, some of which were related to the quarrying activities that provided much of the granite used to build modern Singapore. Besides the sight of a former quarry – just beyond the fence of OBS Camp 1, two concrete storage rooms could be seen, fitted with heavy steel doors. These storerooms were apparently used for the storage of dynamite that the nearby quarry used for blasting.

A dynamite store that used by a nearby quarry.

Several other interesting “discoveries” tell us of the the island’s previous inhabitants: a solitary tomb of a Madam Goh that is still tended to by her descendants, a disused well, a concrete communal stove, and the concrete base of a Chinese village-style dwelling. More on UBiNavigate, which was held on 3 June 2017, can be found at https://ubinavigate.wixsite.com/2017.

Latex dripping into a clay latex cup.

Remains of narrow necked enzyme bottles used in rubber processing.


Other rubbery posts:


More views around the western end of Pulau Ubin

An abandoned well.

Coconut shells were also utilised as latex cups.

The OBS Reservoir.

A beach on the southwestern shoreline of Ubin.

A solitary tomb of a Madam Goh.

Remains of an old communal stove.

A shrine built in 1979.

Another of the shrine.