Island Paradise

New Caledonia Postcard

Traditional Outrigger Canoe on the Isle of Pines. Canon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 24-105mm f4L IS USM lens. Exposure Details: 1/200 second @ f10 ISO 200.

Many parts of New Caledonia are just about as classicly ‘paradisical’ as it can get going by typical western conception. The landscapes, the sea and the weather allow an incredible lifestyle if you so choose. Phenomenal diving, snorkelling and fishing are provided by the barrier reef that encloses Grand Terre (the main island) in the world’s largest lagoon. Consistent trade winds keep the climate moderate and provides for the thousands of kite surfers that visit. Sailing, trekking, horse-riding, canyoning and four wheel driving are other popular activities. Yet if you travel enough you come to realise that -as a local poet once said of New Caledonia- ‘paradise exists nowhere but in man’s imagination’. The society here is just as engulfed in problems as any other. National identity, racism, immigration, economic development, mining, a continuing clash of civilisations (Melanesian and European) are key areas of conflict. Sound familiar? It does for just about any place I can think of in one way or another.

These are themes I’d like to explore with photography here, yet an understanding of local issues has only just started to crystalise for me, and my visa is about to expire! So today I’m posting a postcard perfect picture of paradise I took that was published in last week’s ‘New Caledonia Weekly’, the only English language magazine here. I don’t believe the photo is deceitful of reality, I believe New Caledonia is in fact paradise, a natural paradise, but not a human one. The text that accompanied the photo in the magazine is below.

“It was the second of January and we were still recovering from new year’s eve on the idyllic Isle of Pines. We arranged to be taken on a voyage by pirogue (a traditional outrigger canoe). It poured rain early in the morning, leaving us with a dim prognostic for the voyage. Fortunately the rain eased off, but a thick blanket of cloud meant the incredible Baie d’Upi did not quite lend itself to photography. That was at least until we were dropped off at our destination and the sky cleared, revealing all the glorious colours the Isle Pines is renowned for. I was able to snap this postcard perfect memory just as our noble captain, Theodore, prepared to return to Baie St Joseph. As for us, we turned to the forest and set out for the elusive Piscine Naturelle.”

Thanks for reading, next week I’m off to Vanuatu for a couple of weeks and then back to Australia to arrange a visa. Plenty of good posts coming up including some landscapes here and some shots from the soccer World Cup Trophy Tour that I covered on Tuesday.

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4 thoughts on “Island Paradise

  1. Amazing photo Cam… and its so true about about many places in the South Pacific being a natural paradise albeit not a human one. Guess you can’t have it all, and maybe they should be thankful or they’d be building tube stations the next thing they know..

    • Gracias compañero, maybe they’ll end up putting trains in all the tunnels after the nickel is mined out… oh wait they don’t tunnel, they rip mountains apart with explosives.

  2. Hi Cam,

    I have just come across your photo of a native pirogue and it is a stunning one. So clear, and from a great angle. I am currently undertaking an Honours year in Fine Art at the University of Tasmania, and my research topic is Political exile and displacement. My great great grandfather was sent to the Isle of Pines in 1872, and I am planning on building an aluminium pirogue with screen printed imagery for my submission at the end of the year. I would like to ask your permission to use this photograph in an artefact survey we must compile for the project. It will be presented to the class as a powerpoint, and I need a good image of a native pirogue and this is it. may also refer to it in a contextual essay that will be presented to my professors. Unfortunatley I cant afford to go to New Cal myself right now, and this image tells more than words could say. I would also like to ask you if you knew the owner of this vessel,and what was his name? How are these things constructed, are they made from flotsam and driftwood, and are there any spiritual or ancestral associations with their making? One day I will visit for myself,and experience the place in person. Great image and hope to hear from you soon. My uni email is cliaubon@utas.edu.au.
    Many Thanks,

    CJ Liaubon

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