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BNE July/August 2016 |

19

Taiwan may have a population similar to Australia’s in an area that

is little more than half the size of Tasmania, but more than two thirds

of the country is covered by forested mountains. Taroko National

Park is the country’s second largest national park (behind Yushan in

central Taiwan) and a trip through Taroko Gorge, popularly known as

the Marble Gorge, is an awe-inspiring sight. It is on the eastern side

of Taiwan and easily accessed by a three-hour train ride from Taipei,

snaking alongside the island’s central mountain ridge.

The gorge is indeed carved through solid marble and inside the

Interpretation Centre there are no smiles to be seen in the photos

of the ex-soldiers who built the Central Cross Island Highway from

Taroko to Dongshi through the gorge by hand. Frozen in long lines,

some of the stoic faces belong to the more than 200 men who died

while building the highway. It’s hard to imagine more back-breaking

work than chipping away at that marble to build the road, but every

day for four years 5000 to 6000 men worked on the 192km highway

building it with ‘blood, sweat and tears’, plus a few explosives.

Across the valley sits the Eternal Springs Shrine, a memorial to those

soldiers killed while building the highway and the third to be built in

the location. The other two were reduced to rubble in landslides that

are a constant threat in the area and, still today, the road can be closed

due to rock falls and damage in typhoons. It may be called a highway

but the narrow gorge road makes for a white knuckle-ride for anyone

game to try it with barely space for buses to squeeze through the rock

arches and navigate the twisty turns.

There’s much more to enjoy in Taiwan and Eva Air flies direct from BNE to

Taipei five times a week. The airline has just been awarded the top 5-star

rating for its product and service delivery by global industry review

organisation Skytrax, one of only eight airlines in the world to

receive the ranking. For more information see

www.evaair.com

High Speed Rail Bullet Train

Alishan Mountain Railway

For more information about Taiwan see

www.taiwan.gov.tw