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Active Retirees : Active Retirees Jun-Jul
18 | www.probussouthpacific.org Rising from the trees on the outskirts of New Caledonia’s capital Noumea, the Tjibaou Cultural Centre is an imposing sight. At first, the lined-up structures jutting their timber beams high into the sky look as though they may be under construction, as though they are a tease of something great to come. Renzo Piano, the renowned Italian architect behind Japan’s Kansai Air Terminal, designed the cultural centre to be reminiscent of local Kanak design. Inside, it offers a glimpse into the history and art of the Pacific region; outside, the gardens, paths and buildings tell of the local people and their culture. Colonial memory Alongside the Kanak culture, the French colonial past is unmistakable in Noumea. It’s everywhere: in the architecture, the food, the markets, the language, the gendarmes, and the creations concocted by chocolatier Patrick Morand. Most of all, it’s in the City of Noumea Museum. The building itself dates back to 1864 and, as we wander though it, we are immersed in 100 years of New Caledonia’s history through audio guides, photographs and artefacts including furniture, clothing, carvings and weapons. The history told by the museum starts with Governor Guillain’s arrival in 1862 and the declaration of New Caledonia as a penal colony in 1864. It traces the creation of an education system, uprisings of the indigenous people protesting colonisation and the desecration of sacred sites, and the role of Pacific islands in war. War cemetery At the Anzac cemetery in Bourail, west of the city, a solemn corridor of headstones bears witness to the cost of war. It stretches down a gentle grassy slope, surrounded by trees; at the bottom rests a memorial to those with no known graves. The names on the gravestones reveal a history that doesn’t always fit the stereotype. There are members of the Fijian forces and the NZ Women’s Auxiliary alongside the many young men, older men and members of the medical corps. Back on the road, we pass the polar opposite of the Anzac graveyard. Where the Anzac cemetery is open space, uniform rows and manicured lawns sitting atop the forested slopes, the local Muslim cemetery hugs the foot of a hill and is full of graves of all designs, from ornate marble-walled memorials to the simplest marking for the death of a child long ago. Graves are adorned with flowers and photos, some have coins tossed on them, and the grass is broken up by patches of mud that make picking a path between the graves a precarious pastime. Out west Bourail is in the west of the main island, Le Grande Terre. This green region is also home to Moindou, where Fort Teremba is being restored as an educational centre – guillotine and all – and Sarramea, where a haven of luxury nestles in the rainforest. Hotel Evasion is an eco-retreat of just 10 private bungalows, each with its own secluded verandah and spacious bathroom stocked with toiletries from Hermes – did I mention luxury? The restaurant is worth a visit even without staying in the hotel. Sitting by the pool surrounded by forested mountains and being spoilt by the chef is as easy to get used to as the entire beautiful island. Repeat after me: 'Merci'. •• Hallie Donkin travelled to New Caledonia courtesy of Trade Travel, Air Calin and New Caledonia Tourism. Trade Travel: www.tradetravel.com NC Tourism: www.newcaledonia.com.au Getting there: Aircalin flies from Sydney and Brisbane to Tontouta International Airport. Noumea is 45 minutes south of the airport and Bourail 1 hour north. Take: camera, hiking shoes, swimmers and a bit of French. Bring back: art, niaouli oil, slightly more French. Stay at: luxurious eco-retreat Hotel Evasion, Le Meridien close to the casino or the brand new Royal Tera with self-contained suites and lagoon views. Must eat: dinner at L’Astrolabe, followed by dessert at Les 3 Brasseurs: choose from the crepe menu and match with a house-brewed beer. Must see: the wildlife in the lagoon that surrounds the entire island. Visit the aquarium to get up close and personal with turtles, sharks and fish great and small. Lend a hand: when a child in New Caledonia is diagnosed with cancer, he or she will usually travel with one parent to Sydney, where they stay for the duration of treatment. Cure Our Kids Nouvelle- Calédonie supports these children and their families by providing services and support. To contribute to the New Caledonian charity or find out how you can lend a hand, visit the Cure Our Kids website. W: www.cureourkids.com.au/nc PROBUS RETREAT Probus retreat New Caledonia is coming up. Probus members from all over the South Pacific will be heading to New Caledonia for seven days of friendship, fellowship and fun on 11-17 November. Limited spaces will sell fast, so don't miss out. For more information or to book your place, contact Trade Travel. E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 1800 645 103 (toll free) TRAVEL GUIDE RGravestones tell a story of WWII at Bourail's Anzac cemetery. Fort Teremba is being restored as an educational centre, guillotine and all.
Active Retirees Aug-Sept