KUCHING, August 28: The Bung Bratak Heritage Centre (BBHC) is set to open its doors to visitors and tourists on Jan 1 next year.
Bung Bratak Heritage Association (BBHA) chairman Datuk Peter Minos said the centre was initiated and developed by the association, and it is recognised by UNESCO as the first-of-its-kind in Borneo to be built on a hilltop 1,000 feet above sea-level.
The Public Works Department (JKR) is constructing the RM8 million centre, and it is now 90 per cent completed.
“Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg will officiate at the grand opening of this historical centre next year,” said Peter in a statement yesterday.
He added that BBHC was grateful to the federal and state Ministry of Tourism and Culture, JKR, Land and Survey Department, Bau District Council, Bau District Office, Sarawak Tourism Board, Members of Parliament and assemblymen for their support.
BBHC comprises two 600-feet-long traditional longhouses, a seminar/conference hall, a mini museum, an office, and homestay-style accommodation for up to 100 people. There is also a Bidayuh traditional roundhouse called a ‘baruk’ for small meetings, functions and a dining hall with kitchen facilities.
Peter said visitors and tourists to BBHC would be charged a minimal fee, inclusive of accommodation, food and drinks.
“BBHC has everything as a historical ecotourism centre. It is back-to-nature at Bung Bratak. This place is surrounded by virgin forest, fresh mountain air and scenery, two mountain waterfalls and springwater holes which are reputed as having traditional healing power, jungle walks, heritage trails, fauna and flora, wild birds and animals,” he said.
He added that Bung Bratak was once the original ancestral home and settlement of the Bidayuhs from the Jagoi-Bratak group. The group is now spread out over 33 villages in Bau and Lundu Districts.
Historians and Bidayuh elders say the very first group settled at Bung Bratak some 750 years ago, which is why Bung Bratak is of a highly historical value and sentimental place for the Bidayuhs of Jagoi-Bratak.
BBHC is built in respect and honour of the ancient Bidayuh settlement’s history and heritage.
“To perpetuate the Bidayuh’s culture and history, BBHC will hold cultural and historical activities while celebrating and enjoying in a natural environment. Bung Bratak will be a mountain top historical ecotourism centre with truly exceptional one-of-a-kind (experiences) that cannot be found in other places in Borneo.
“UNESCO has also recognised it, which is why groups of Australian and Singapore university students have booked their stay for a few weeks during their vacations,” Peter said.