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New Caledonia Travel Guide

Cliffs of Lékine
The cliffs of Lékine
near the Mouli Bridge on Ouvéa.

Southern Ouvéa

At Wadrilla, visit the graves of the 19 Kanaks murdered by French troops during and after the storming of the Gosannah cave in 1988. In 1990, a large monument designed with two curving white walls to resemble a cave was constructed beside the road in the center of the village. The monument bears the photo, name, and date of birth of each victim, and their traditional war clubs have been placed on the back side of the monument. Their remains are interred below.

During a commemorative ceremony for these men exactly one year after the massacre, the Kanak leaders Jean-Marie Tjibaou and Yeiwéné Yeiwéné were assassinated by Djoubelli Wea in the chefferie (chief's hut) across the road from the monument. Wea felt Tjibaou and Yeiwéné had sold out the independence cause by making a deal with the French government. Ironically, however, the death of the two leaders froze the Matignon Accords into a sort of holy writ, which no one has dared to tamper with since. No monument to Jean-Marie Tjibaou exists on Ouvéa, but the French have constructed a massive cultural center to his memory in their stronghold Nouméa.

Ouvéa's administrative offices, bank, and library are 500 meters inland from the massacre monument at Wadrilla, a tiny contemporary complex oddly out of place in this traditional thatched village.

The post office and several small stores are strung along the lagoon near the middle of the atoll at Fayaoué, a few km south of Wadrilla. The large gendarmerie at Fayaoué is still very well defended with barbed wire, a watchtower, and numerous paramilitary vehicles. The numerous white French police you see here underline the continuing colonial realities of New Caledonia. Unless you're French, your presence probably won't go unnoticed.

Twelve km farther south, many tropical fish are visible from the narrow bridge connecting Mouli to the rest of Ouvéa, and the swimming in the clear blue water here is good (but beware of the strong tidal currents). The famous cliffs of Lékine are also clearly visible from this bridge. Approach them by following the beach around. Long ago, before the island was uplifted, wave action undercut these towering walls of limestone, and massive stalactites tell of the great caverns for which this area is noted. On this island of superb beaches, the nicest is at Mouli.

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