The International Steam Pages

Penang Hills and Trails - Pulau Jerejak Part 3
An Unheralded Part of Penang's History

This is one of a series of pages on walking the hills of Penang, click here for the index. This part is a simple Grade 2 walk. There is a sketch map at the bottom showing the route followed, I am grateful to Mike Gibby for passing me this scan.

There are three parts to this report of my March 2017 visit. Click below for the other two parts, the fourth part dates from December 2017, the fifth from 2020.

Pulau Jerejak Part 1 - the South East corner of the island

Pulau Jerejak Part 2 - a hike along the main ridge of the island

Pulau Jerejak Part 4 - more on the South East corner of the island

Pulau Jerejak Part 5 - A misguided tour

This part covers that part of the north-west of the island, which was the former Quarantine Station (Quarantine Camp on the map), directly above the green patch on the main island in the picture below.

We entered 'by the back door', coming down the valley behind, off the ridge path. Our first port of call was a set of buildings set back from the beach. The first three pictures show what Mike suggests may have been an administration building, the tree growing up through the roof is reminiscent of parts of Angkor Wat. The next four are of a pair of 'semis' probably houses for staff, the last is an isolated small hut nearby.

We made our way to the strip next to the coast, here are several trucks abandoned when the granite dumping associated with construction of a nearby reservoir (as a backup for the Bayan Lepas industrial area) was completed. In a sane world, the unwanted granite here would have been shipped for use filling in the area off Gurney Drive instead of using material from the quarry at Teluk Bahang which has been destroying the north coast road as it is conveyed; joined up development is not a strongpoint in Malaysia. The building with a 1911 date which to me looks almost like a cinema was actually the reception centre when the Quarantine Station first opened in 1910.

Mike told me that this camp continued in use until the time of the Japanese invasion. In 1946 it reopened as a camp for refugees and displaced persons (such as those lucky few returning from the Burma-Siam railway project). Between 1948 and 1951 it operated as a detention centre during the Malayan Emergency before again being used for quarantine purposes until around the time of independence (1957). It became a rehabilitation centre following the Troubles in 1969, it then became a prison, finally closing in 1993. There were originally some 30 accommodation buildings here all dating back to 1910/1. Now just three remain, the two at the rear are rather different in design from the first. I was lucky, the area around them had been recently cleared of undergrowth by workers for the new developer, Ideal.

Unfortunately, we had run out of time and there was no time to visit the graveyard which is some way to the south. It was 15.00 and our boat was on its way to pick us up. The jetty here is in good condition, like many it was obviously once home to a 'push tramway', the gauge appeared to be about 2ft (610mm) .

I would like to thank Mike for his guided tour, while we had seen most of the obvious remnants of Jerejak's history, I would like to return next time we are in Penang to see the graves and maybe do another ridge walk. Yuehong is also keen to visit.

Mike sent me these pictures which show a somewhat weary hiker. Although this was not a tough walk, in the previous two days I had done 'pioneering' hikes up (and down) Bukit Cempedak and Bukit Batu Itam in the north of the main island. I have a 'tiredness index' which relates to the number of times I leave my walking stick behind in the course of walk. For Bukit Batu Itam it was twice, but today it was just once. The stick is largely cosmetic and actually used only to threaten dogs and assault ferns and vines. All this activity was on account of Yuehong being otherwise engaged with multiple visitors and wanting to do some 'tidying up' before we return to the UK shortly. In fact I made it five hikes in five days with a hike from Pantai Aceh to Sungai Pinang and then finally another assault on Bukit Batu Ferringhi. After that I really was near exhausted and decided on three days complete absence from the hills!

Pulau Jerejak
(ca 1960)


 ____ = Path

 ____ = Easy 'Off piste'

 ____ = Seriously 'Off piste'

(Only the paths used are shown, there will be many more.)

Click here for information on the maps.

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson