Kundasang War Memorial Park is one of the many memorial parks that have been built in Sabah to commemorate the tragedy, suffering and death of the allied forces during World War II. (The other
well known memorials are the
Sandakan Memorial Park and
Labuan World War II Cemetery and Memorial). This park was built to remember the death of the British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers and other Borneo civilians during the horrific Sandakan Death marches from Sandakan to Ranau in 1945 when North Borneo was under the occupation of the Japanese Imperial army.
Kundasang War Memorial Park was built by a New Zealander in 1962 to resemble a fort on a hill. However, it was left to ruin and in a bad state and was almost forgotten until 2005, when restoration work was started and the garden re-planted. Inside the fort, there are three interconnecting gardens that have been landscaped to the theme of the three different countries to remember their heroes who have suffered or perished during the tragic 'Sandakan Death March'. The gardens are aptly named the Australian Garden, the English Garden and the Borneo Garden. In the Australian Garden, ferns and grass turf will greet visitors. The English Garden has been landscape to resemble an old fashion British garden with beautiful blooming roses that comes in many different colors. In the Borneo Garden, various native plant of Sabah including many wild and rare orchids can be seen here. If you're lucky you can see a blooming Rothschild’s slipper orchids here.
Another garden which is considered as the center piece of the Kundasang War Memorial Park is the Contemplation Garden and Reflection Pool. Located at the highest point in the fort, numerous white columns have been erected to surround a long narrow pool to create a beautiful and peaceful pergolas setting. Certain sections of the fort’s stone walls here have also been knocked down and replaced with iron railings so that tourist can get a better view of the surrounding Kundasang town. As such, take your time to take photos and to enjoy the magnificent view of Mt. Kinabalu which looks quite big and majestic from this position. With such beautiful view, it is an ironic that this solemn place has now become a favorite place for the locals who come here to have their wedding pictures or portraits taken.
Visitors should also go to the information center here to get more information and details of the 'Sandakan Death Marches' which take place between January and August 1945. Here on display are pictures, newspaper articles and some personal accounts about the march by the POW's. Spare some time to view a brief video on the history and stories of the Sandakan Death March, where about 2,500 Australian and British prisoners of war died when forced to trek through 165 miles (265 km) of thick in-hospital virgin forest from Sandakan to Ranau.
Main Entrance to Kundasang War Memorial Park
Getting There: Kundasang War Memorial Park is located beside Kundasang town vegetable market, which is about 90 km or 2 hours road journey from Kota Kinabalu city. If you are at Kinabalu Park, the memorial park which lies at the foothill of Mount Kinabalu is about 10 minutes drive.
This place is open daily from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm and visitor needs to pay a small entrance fee. The entrance fee is RM2.00 for Malaysian citizen and RM10.00 for other nationalities.(as off 2012)