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New Caledonia Travel Guide

Monument to 19 Kanaks, Wadrilla
The monument at Wadrilla to 19 Kanaks
killed in 1988.

Northern Ouvéa

A paved highway extends south from St. Joseph to Wadrilla (19 km), the administrative center, then on to Mouli (another 21 km). St. Joseph is strung along the lagoon, with several general stores and a large Catholic mission (1912). Near the mission is the low stockade of the local chief's case.

To reach a large natural sinkhole (trou d'eau) near the coast, several km southeast of St. Joseph, take the Ognat road east and turn right at Weneki just after a curve. Keep straight ahead past an abandoned quarry. At the fork a kilometer beyond this, go left. The sinkhole is at the end of the road on the left. The Grand Chief of Weneki keeps turtles in the brackish water of the hole until they are required for his table, but never mind, you can swim. No one has ever found the bottom of this deep, dark hole.

There's another sinkhole, the Trou d'Anawa, at Casse-Cou between St. Joseph and Wadrilla.

The Grotte de Gossanah where the Ouvéa Massacre occurred is a few km east of St. Joseph. The trail begins beside an old quarry midway between Gossanah and Ognat (ask permission in Gosannah before visiting the cave, but don't count on it being granted). Every May 5 a pilgrimage is made here in memory of the dead. Djoubelly Wea, the assassin who fired the last shots of the événiments of the 1980s killing Jean-Marie Tjibaou and Yeiwéné Yeiwéné, is buried in front of his traditional case opposite the small store in the center of Gossanah.

It's now known that the people of Gossanah had nothing to do with the hostage taking, which was carried out by youths from other parts of the island. Yet they were rounded up by French troops and assembled on the village football field in front of the church, where they were beaten and tortured by French police trying to extract information. Wea's father was among those who died during the torture and many of the survivors (Wea included) were flown to French prisons. The broken concrete building in the middle of the village is the former French school, which the villagers themselves destroyed after the French police had left, to show their disgust for France and the French.

Continue to   Ouvéa: Southern Ouvéa   »