We decided to hire a car so that we could see something of the inland areas of New Caledonia, and look at some of the anchorages we have stayed at, but from the land viewpoint. We were offered a Peugeot 107 but instead took a 207 - wise choice as even the 207 was barely up to the steep mountainous road grades. We headed off North-East to Yate, across the central mountain range, via Mont d'Or on the coast.
This led us through steep mountains, upland lakes and waterfalls. The mountains are so high, steep, rugged and primitive looking: really awe-inspiring and unlike anything we have experienced. Around each bend in the road, looking down from the edge of the shoulders with no guard rails, we could see spectacular drop-offs to jagged valleys and rivers. The descent to Yate on the other side of the mountain range was just beautiful, and we could see every coral head and sand-bank in the bordering reefs and anchorage entrance from the road above. But also we saw some disturbing views of the scarring being caused to the terrain by the nickel mines - they are really extensive in the south, and they are denuding the mountaintops and exposing the orange-red sub-surface layers to erosion and collapse. However, New Caledonia has a significant proportion of the world's nickel and this isn't going to stop soon - in fact, it's expanding...
Tom and Amanda took a flight home on Sunday, and of course there were tears all round but we spoke to Tom after his arrival in Sydney and this calmed things down a little at this end.
Further driving took us north to Boulouparis and into the "Cowboy" belt - lots of cattle, farming, and fusillades of recreational rifle fire in the hills - deer hunting, presumably. There is a pretty bay up there called Ouenghi, where some pretty upscale development is taking place - wealthier French from the city building holiday or retirement homes there - an a tiny but lovely little marina which seems to have enough depth for substantial production boats. We had lunch there and really enjoyed the area - so much nicer than "Port Moresmell".
Don't forget to check out our photos - click here.