- Cameron’s Highlands
As recent contributions to the local press point to considerable public attention being focussed on the development of Cameron’s Highlands, a short account of the proposals to create a Hill Station and the progress that has been made may be of general interest.
The area to which the name of Cameron’s Highlands is now given is situated on the east side of the mountain range which forms the backbone of the Peninsula. It is surrounded by a circle of mountains of which the highest points are Jasar (5,565 feet) and Riul (5,680 feet) on the west, Brinchang (6,665 feet) on the north and Berembun (6,036 feet) on the south. It comprises the level and gently undulating area drained by the Sungei Bertam at a mean elevation of 4,800 feet above sea level. The total area lying in this basin is estimated to be about 5,400 acres. The site of the proposed Hill Station itself is about 46 miles distant from Tapah Road railway station.
It is uncertain how or when this area first obtained its name. In 1885, Mr. Cameron reported the discovery of a wide area of level country at a high elevation in the mountain range which forms the watershed between the States of Perak and Pahang. In 1894, a sketch map, prepared by Mr. Caulfield, shows Cameron’s Highlands as situated in the place we now know, but it shows it being drained by the Sungei Telom instead of the Sungei Bertam.
In 1888, provision was made in the Perak estimates for the construction of a road from Tapah to the Pahang Pass. The object of this road appears to have been one of development of the area in the Batang Padang district suitable for agriculture together with access to Pahang, but when it was discovered that the trace of this road would pass close to the country thought to be Cameron’s Plateau, Sir Hugh Low, the British Resident, Perak, expressed the opinion that a good sanatorium might be found where Europeans from the Straits Settlements and other places might like to build resorts for health or pleasure, or farming, or gardening purposes.
The area of the land available for such purposes was then thought to be from 60,000 to 100,000 acres.
In 1899, the programme for the construction of the road was suspended after an eight mile section of unmetalled road had been completed.
In 1902 and 1903, the extension of the road to the Highlands again received the attention of Government. A provision of $20,000 was made in Perak State Estimates for 1903 (1st instalment on a probable estimate of $100,000) and in 1904, a second instalment of $70,000 was provided. [End Page 127]
Work on the road was successfully recommenced and good progress was made. At the same time, a surveyor was appointed to demarcate and survey Government reserves in Cameron’s Highlands; unfortunately through a regrettable error he surveyed an area at Lubok Tamang, some miles away from Cameron’s Highlands and reported that only 318 acres were available for a Hill Station. In view of this report it was not considered justifiable to incur further heavy expenditure and the State Engineer was informed that the Estimates for 1905 would contain only a sufficient amount of money to terminate existing contracts.
In 1920, the continuation of the road was reconsidered in connection with the New Road Programme. It was then decided that it should await a report on the suitability of Cameron’s Highlands as a Hill Station. During that year, an expedition (under the charge of the Director of Museums) visited the Highlands and the subsequent reports written by members of the party proved that the Highlands possess many of the factors necessary for the establishment of a satisfactory Hill Sanatorium.
In the following years, the financial stringency prevented the expenditure of large sums of money on development and road construction, but, in 1925, a definite policy of development took shape. A sum of $25,000 was provided to cover the cost of preliminary investigations and surveys connected with the improvements to the communications from...