Tawau in 1920: A Story by An Australian Traveller (Part II)
Early last month, we posted the first part of this series about a young lady from Melbourne, Australia who travelled to Tawau in 1920 on board a steamship called the St. Albans.
Please read on to enjoy the second and the last part of this series; featured exclusively on DiscoverTawau.com.
We then retraced our steps to the coconut grove, and got a boy to climb a palm, and throw down coconuts, so that we might drink the so-called milk out of them. All these tropical fruits are terribly over-rated. I was very disappointed with coconut milk. If you will turn up the chapter in “Coral Island,” where Peterkin drinks sparkling draughts of nature’s lemonade out of a coconut, you will know where I got my ideas. They were, if I may say so, quite erroneous.
Just as we were going back to the pier we saw four trolleys on the little iron rails, with coolies standing by them. Someone had sent them, so we immediately mounted, sat on the sugar-boxes, and set off for the form. It was a heavenly ride. The coolies pushed behind, and we went at quite a good pace. First, we went through the native village, and then along the sea coast under palm trees for about a mile.
Then we turned inland, and went for two and a half miles down the loveliest track [discovertawau.com's note: this must be along Jalan Kuhara] – all shady coconut palms and rubber trees, with buffalo, deer, and goats wandering round. Each buffalo had its own big white bird sitting on it to “chat” it. Ere long we came to the “little” farm. Just 30,000 acres, run by Japanese, who are cultivating 5,000 more each year, and getting a very good foothold in British Borneo.
It is marvellous. Every imaginable thing is grown there, but chiefly miles (literally) of rubber trees [discovertawau.com's note: This huge plantation was once called Nissan Estate]. Each tree with a little white basin near it, which is filled with the rubber juice at 4 each morning. There were also kapok trees, coffee, cocaine, opium poppies, indigo plants, and-well, keep on thinking of things and they were all there bananas, cannois, papayas, peanuts, castor oil plants. They took us to the indigo factory, full of vats of dye, and to the place where they make oils, citronella, lemon grass oil, coconut oil, etc. They gave us a big bottle of citronella for the mosquitoes, and the whole ship “hums” with it, though there are no mosquitoes.
We walked for miles in the greatest heat YOU could imagine, with our tongues hanging but for a drink. We were asked to the manager’s house to “drink our heads off,” but there wasn’t time, so we trolleyed back to the St. Albans. How is that for an Easter Sunday? You have the honour of reading the longest letter I have written. The trouble is that we have been fooling about on the equator for days, instead of going straight across it. Nothing keeps me going save the thought that I am a humble scion of a noble race.
I am writing this on deck with a heat-enfeebled hand, so I hope it is readable. We are having a very long trip-a month out and not at Manila yet, but we hope to reach there tomorrow. There was a “wireless’ the other day to say that Japan and Britain had refused to renew the alliance or whatever it is, and that America is out of the Peace Treaty, so everyone is wondering what we will find when we get to Japan. Rather exciting, isn’t it?
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