Each year Lynette Silver organises and escorts a tour group to Borneo for Anzac Day. She has been doing this in an honorary capacity since 1999 for families of prisoners of war and others who have a special interest in wartime events in Borneo. The emphasis is on the POW experience, but not exclusively so, with cultural activities and sight-seeing playing an important part.
The Sandakan Anzac Day Tour’s carefully designed itinerary incorporates some very interesting places that are off the normal tourist track in Malaysian Borneo, as well as every POW site pertinent to the Sandakan story.
The tour starts in Sandakan, with visits to the POW Memorial Park, the site of the 8 Mile POW Camp, and to Berhala Island, as well as St Michael’s Church where many of the prisoners spent the night before marching to their final captivity. This is the only building that has any connection to the Sandakan POWs. An important part of this visit is to see the magnificent stained glass Windows of Remembrance and Friendship Windows.
From Sandakan, travellers continue to follow in the footsteps of the POWs, along the route of the death march track to Ranau, and then on to Labuan, where the war cemetery is situated.
Private commemorative services are held at Sandakan, Ranau and Labuan War Cemetery, and at places along the death march route, as required. Tour members are invited to participate actively in the Dawn Service, held on Anzac Day.
Expert commentary is provided by Lynette along the way, with special and exclusive touches designed to enhance the overall experience.
Visits to wildlife reserves are included, along with an opportunity to walk along a short and picturesque section of the death march track, identified and opened in March 2006 by Lynette and trekking expert Tham Yau Kong. The tour ends in Kota Kinabalu.
If there is sufficient interest from prospective travellers, the itinerary can be extended en route to Sandakan to allow for a three-night, two-day trip to take in Singapore, where the POW story begins. The program there includes a day-long, customised tour of the battlefields, and a half-day visiting key POW sites, including the AIF barracks and Changi Camp area.
The Borneo Sector is nine nights and ten days, excluding travel time to and from Australia. The full trip, including Singapore option, is 13 days and 12 nights.
SOME OF THE SIGHTS ALONG THE WAY:
COST BORNEO SECTOR: ONLY A$2,995 per person, twin share
This price, which is wholesale, includes a $100 booking fee, almost all meals, accommodation at the best hotels available (3-5 star), all ground and water transportation while on tour, all excursions, entry fees, the services of expert local guides, memorial services where applicable and full historical input by the group’s honorary historical consultant, Lynette Silver, personalised to cater for the various members of the party.
Airfares are not included. Travellers can organise their own flights with their preferred airline, use frequent flyer points, or ask the Australian agent, Jenny Brushe of itravel Wahroonga, to take care of the flights. All Australian bookings are through itravel Wahroonga. The ground operator for the Borneo sector is the very experienced Tham Yau Kong, of TYK Adventure Tours, who conducts all the treks along the death march track.
HOW TO BOOK YOUR SANDAKAN ANZAC DAY TOUR:
31 Redleaf Avenue, Wahroonga 2076.
Phone: 02 9487 6633
Email: [email protected]