Singapore has many public parks, but if you want to picnic by the seaside, walk through dense jungle and learn about World War II history there’s only one that fits the bill,the Labrador Nature Reserve.
Built on the edge of the secondary forest with a prime vantage point of the cliff-side vegetation and a picturesque view of the sea, Labrador Nature Reserve is an oasis of tranquillity and natural wonders. Thriving with wildlife, the park is a favourite haunt of nature lovers. I could hear songs from a variety of bird species, including those of the Oriental Magpie-robin and Black-naped Oriole. Took a leisurely stroll through the Berlayer creek mangrove trail and reached the coastal cliff.
The Berlayer Creek mangrove trail is 960m long and is one of the few remaining mangrove areas in the city area which is home to back mangrove species, as well as a myriad of fauna and flora, including one of the highest densities of molluscs in Singapore.
The coastal area is the most developed part of Labrador Park and this paved pedestrian path runs along the water. This is where I saw a few visitors can be found make in the children’s playground, scenic jogging trails and barbecue pits. There’s also an elevated boardwalk over the water where I spotted mudskippers, sea grasses and small crabs.
If the Berlayer Creek was all about mangroves, then the 330m Bukit Chermin Boardwalk was where we got close to the sea.
Behind the developed coastal area is the jungle. This is where Labrador Park feels a world away from urban Singapore. The trees covered with vines were so dense they practically blocked out the sun . The limited network of trails were paved and had stairs and hand railings where necessary, making Labrador Park one of Singapore’s easiest nature reserves for walking. The park is home to more than 70 species of birds including wild parrots and bright yellow orioles.
Amid the jungle I saw some moss-covered remains from World War II including bunkers and gun batteries. The area that is now Labrador Nature Reserve was once Fort Pasir Panjang, one of the military forts built by the British to protect the port of Singapore. Informational signs dispel common myths like that Singapore lost to the Japanese invaders because the guns at these coastal forts were pointed facing the wrong direction (in fact, they could rotate 360-degrees but were not placed for firing inland and had the wrong kind of ammo).
Combining forest trails rich in birdlife and a beachfront park, Labrador Park is scattered with evocative British war relics, only rediscovered in the 1980s. The reserve’s hilly terrain sweeps down to the shore, where expansive lawn, shade and the sound of lapping waves invited a lazy picnic.