Fort Margherita in Kuching , Sarawak, was built by Rajah Charles Brooke in 1879. Rajah Charles was  the second of three white English Rajahs who ruled Sarawak as a personal fiefdom between 1841-1946. Fort Margherita has been variously used  for defense, as a prison and as a police museum. Fort Margherita is now the home of the Brooke Gallery, a brilliant little museum devoted to the history of the Brooke family and their connections with Sarawak. The “smoking mountain” on the right hand side  of the photo is Gunung Santubong, 45 minutes drive from Kuching on the coast, towering over the Sarawak Cultural Village and two beach resorts, Damai and Permai.

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If you are staying in Kuching  on the opposite side of the river, you can reach Fort Margherita by taking a taxi boat across the river  or by using the new pedestrian bridge that leads to the Sarawak Parliament Building (Dewan Udangan Negri). This is the building with the golden roof on the left hand side of the photo above.

 

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The hill behind Fort Margherita is  a large forested park with many beautiful old trees including many large figs. These figs include Ficus virens, Ficus benjamina and Ficus tinctoria var gibbosa. In the photo above the tree on the left is an unusually large  Ficus tinctoria var gibbosa. The tree on the right is a conglomeration of at least four fig trees including two Ficus benjamina, a Ficus virens and a Ficus tinctoria var gibbosa. These four figs all started out as epiphytes  sharing an old Oil Palm  which still appears to be alive despite the heavy load it is carrying.
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When we visited in December 2017 the Ficus virens was covered in ripe fig fruit but no birds were feeding on the figs. The figs had been pollinated and were full of seeds. We were puzzled until we realized that all the local starlings and bulbuls were feeding on a very large Ficus benjamina which was also fruiting only 100m away. Obviously the local birds prefer Ficus benjamina figs to Ficus virens !
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A branch of Ficus virens on Fig Hill covered in unripe fig fruit. Other branches on the same tree were covered in ripe figs.

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