was our first stop in French Caledonia and provided an interesting contrast between nature and modern heavy industry. On the one hand, the city centre was open with statues, benches, garden areas and families. There is Wifi – as long as you have an email account to which can be provided a user name and log-in code with which you can access the network…..

There are green forested hills and mountains, islands and sandy beaches. There is also the 35+% of the worlds nickel supply that is mined in New Caledonia; departing for all of the rest of the world from various docks and harbors. There are markets with interesting fruit (no clue what these two are), fresh fish, brightly colored cotton lengths of cloth. There are piles of coal and huge chemical refining retorts. There are smiling faces and there are cigarette butts scattered everywhere on the sidewalks and streets.

The New Caledonian Museum featured a wonderful exhibit of historical implements and descriptions of past life with the occasional English translation .

[Oh, just a reminder -this area is more properly names Noevelle Celedonie – pardon for not having the accents as they always make a mess of any email. French possession/protectorate with its own currency, left hand drive cars and no signs on the sidewalk to help the less than wary Australians who are not used to thinking of cars on the “right side of the road.”]

Upstairs there were exhibits from other of the islands in New Caledonia as well as representative items from related Pacific Island cultures. I also really liked the hut that was in the center of one of the courtyards. Of course, since I signed the “no flash, no commercial use and no internet agreement, the only photos I am likely to post is that of the exterior and internet of said hut.

It was early days yet when we headed back to ship for a late lunch and a restful afternoon.

Lifou tomorrow is quiet. It is so much so that there are no ship’s tours offered at all. I think the idea will be to just walk around, head to the beach and maybe snorkel. More people on the ship than live on the island.

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