March - 2019

Gunung Mulu National Park has a wealth of spectacular karst features.  Perhaps one of the most significant is the Garden of Eden, which lies in the Southern Hills beyond the huge passage of Deer Cave.  Visitors to the Park can arrange to visit this hidden world, which is only accessable by passing through the great cave itself.  The Garden of Eden is surrounded by sheer limestone cliffs on three sides and, to the east, the steep ridge of Gunung Mulu. From here a modern day river flows into the ‘Garden’ and passes through Deer Cave.

Aerial photo of the Southern Hills showing the Garden of Eden

Scientists are uncertain of how the Garden of Eden formed.  In order to be classed as a ‘Mega Doline’, or Tiankeng as they are also known, the feature would have to be formed by a collapse into a huge chamber or passage.  This seemed impossible until Sarawak Chamber was discovered a few kilometres away.  No one had thought such a large chamber existed and therefore a mega doline of this size was not possible.  The discovery of the huge chamber changed the thinking on this and such a doline is now thought to be possible. However, this is likely to have occurred a long time ago and the doline since degraded further.  Other theories are that it is an enlarging blind valley which has intersected Deer Cave, or that it is a bit of both, a mega doline which has expended into a widening valley by the action of a surface river. 

If the Garden of Eden was classified as a Mega Doline it would be far larger than any of the great Tiankengs in China.  Whatever it may be, it is a spectacular karst feature.  The chart below demonstrates how the Garden of Eden compares to other Mega Dolines;

  Tiankeng/Mega Doline   Volume Mm3
1 Garden of Eden* Sarawak 150
2 Xiaozhai China 119
3 Haolong China 110
4 Dashiwei China 75

*Depends on scientific classification.