Landscape Photographer from the South West of Western Australia

Brunei and Sabah in 1981

We have been intending to scan our old 35mm negatives for years before they get too scratched and we lose them. Finally we are getting around to it.

In 1981 I was working in Brunei and took a trip with a friend on a long weekend. Others had done the trip before and our social club had a file giving details of where to go, telephone numbers to make hotel bookings and so on. The idea was to leave the capital of Brunei in a fast ferry, travel across the Bay of Brunei, and then transfer to a longboat to go upriver to a place called Meropok. A short walk across the border into Sabah took us to a village called Sindumin. There we had to negotiate for the locals (who spoke no English) to take us to a town called Beaufort. From Beaufort we intended to catch a train up the gorges to Tenom, but the monsoon had arrived early and the train couldn’t get through. So we caught a train to Kota Kinabalu, and the next day flew to Labuan. Finally we caught a ferry back to Brunei. It was an eventful 3 days – one I will always remember.

I see on the maps there are roads now – we caught longboats because there were no roads in those days. Most transport was by river as it had been for centuries. There were just a couple of small villages – Sinduman, Sipitang, Beaufort were the major ones. The roads were gravel/dirt. On the way to Beaufort a crocodile crossed the road ahead of us! So the photos from this trip document a scene that has largely disappeared.

Beaufort,Sabah in 1981

Beaufort,Sabah in 1981


You can see more photos from this trip at this link. Album

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8 responses

  1. That album is awesome Dad – you certainly had a knack for photo’s way back then!!! And they weren’t digital either! I remember seeing a few of those photo’s but wonderful to see Brunei etc again – loving the old negatives being scanned 🙂 (love the fashion too hehe!)

    May 5, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    • I think you could do that trip by car now – probably sealed roads.

      May 5, 2012 at 3:38 pm

  2. well considering it was over 30 years ago……… 😛

    May 5, 2012 at 4:10 pm

  3. A memorable and interesting journey and nice photos of old Labuan back in early 80’s. Thanking you for sharing the story.

    September 9, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    • Thank you – Yes it was memorable – one of the journeys I will always remember.

      September 9, 2012 at 8:14 pm

  4. Do come and visit again to Labuan someday.

    September 20, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    • Thank you. You never know I might just do that.

      September 20, 2013 at 10:16 pm

      • Hi Ian…been awhile since I last visit your website, and nothing more fascinating me than reviewing back the old photos of your trip to Kota Kinabalu Sabah (North Borneo) and the Island of Labuan (Victoria) …. really memorable. All the best and take care.

        September 24, 2014 at 10:32 pm

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