Fort Brooke Ulu Kelantan Cameron Highlands
My last hiking adventure to view the Rafflesia flower plant did yield another interesting information about Fort Brooke in Cameron Highlands. Mr. Roy Follows who used to man Fort Brooke wanted to know what happened to this old stronghold. While on the ride back with Spencer, the hiking tour guide for Kang Travel and Tours, I asked him whether he knows anything about an old British fort, and to my pleasure he knows the location!
Riding shotgun in the 4x4 off road adventure travel tour with Spencer on our return journey from a very tiring but satisfying Rafflesia flower hiking adventure, I was thinking perhaps Spencer might know something about Fort Brooke. After all we are in the Ulu Kelantan region and that bamboo bridge that we crossed to the Orang Asli village did remind me about the correspondence that I had with Mr Roy Follows.
And to my good fortune, Spencer indeed knew about Fort Brooke's location. He seems to be a historical buff too and has collected pictures from the internet about Fort Brooke. And the location of Fort Brooke can be viewed along the way from the Orang Asli village to the main Gua Musang - Cameron Highlands road. Making corner after passing some very bumpy dirt track, we reached a clearing around the bend of the 4x4 off road trail and got off the ride. Spencer proceeded to the edge of the hill and voila! We could see a clearing where the former Fort Brooke was located.
There is nothing there now, and the secondary jungle is slowly reclaiming back its lost territory. I could spy a little lone shack, probably belonging to some Orang Asli perhaps as a way station resting point for their hunting trips or a permanent resident I couldn't tell from way up the hill.
Spencer couldn't tell when Fort Brooke was abandon, but I reckon it was dismantled when the communist gave up their cause. Mr Roy Fellows thought the fort would be developed by now complete with shopping malls and McDonald restaurant! Well sorry to disappoint him, the clearing is slowly being reclaimed back by the jungle.
The clearing was a hive of activity back in the Emergency period, with the army helicopters making regular supply drop. Sometimes the pilot and crew did a poor job on the supply drop with very disastrous result with the supply crashing on the rooftops of the command centre.
Way back then, the only way to reach Fort Brooke was by hiking and it wasn't an easy trek. Soldiers have to carry their heavy backpacks with food provision, ammunitions and their weapons. And when it rains the hiking trail becomes muddy making it difficult and slippery to traverse. It takes days to reach, and thus the fastest way for resupply was via helicopter supply drops. The helicopter couldn't land probably due to the incline of the clearing. So parachute supply drop was their only option I suppose.
So now I at least I can chalk up the ending for the query about Fort Brooke current condition. It is no longer there but the clearing is slowly and surely being reclaimed back by the jungles of Ulu Kelantan Cameron Highlands.
- The Jungle Beat - Roy Follows, of Fort Brooke and Cameron Highlands
- Correspondence with Roy Follows author of 'The Jungle Beat'
- Correspondence with Jim Smith about Fort Brooke
- The mysterious dissappearance of Jim Thompson
- Some interesting history about Kellie's Castle