The Pennant Bar Team get ready for a sail away party..........
Nothing but blue skies shining on me.............
Strolling along the Promenade...........
Stopping for a morning coffee.............
Taking a drive round the Island - great roads...........
Travelling in style with Gilbert............many thanks for tour Gilbert!
Checking our the fresh fruit and veg at the market.
Very expensive local fruit..................
Friendly sales staff at the Market.
Lovely harbour - plenty of money here..........!
The little train tour that leaves from the side of the ship!
Good Day Everyone,
On 25 February Aurora was alongside on the port of Noumea. It was a glorious day and with this being the 'Maiden'Call' for Aurora we had a plaque exchange ceremony with the local officials. This was hosted by Deputy Captain Andrew Willard and laid on a post breakfast buffet in the Uganda Room on Deck 13 with smoked salmon bagels and fancy Danish pastries which was much enjoyed. After this our guests were given a tour of the ship. Gilbert the Port Director took me out for a drive in his lovely E Class Mercedes (I like comfort and style) and this gave me an opportunity to re familiarise myself with the Island. I first came here in 1984 - on the original Oriana. I love the Lemon Bay area. I also enjoyed the visit to the local fish market to see 'today's catch' and also enjoy the wonderful varieties of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Noumea is the Captain City and one of the largest ports in the South Pacific. It is heavily influenced by French history. The barrier reef off New Caledonia is second in size to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. In 2008 UNESCO listed this on the World Heritage Site. The name Noumea means 'sunrise' in Melanesian. Brisbane is approximately 800 miles from Noumea. Noumea enjoys a wonderful climate with more sunshine than any other Pacific island.
Here is Graham's Report on the day................
Our final port of call in the South Pacific is the island of Grande Terre, New Caledonia and its capital city of Nouméa. Nouméa is, as of 2007, one of the most rapidly growing cities in the Pacific, and has seen a major housing construction boom within the past ten years. Here the locals have a lively city with extensive shopping which includes designer goods shipped in from France.
I decided I wanted to join a tour group to visit the Botanical Gardens since New Caledonia is considered one of the world's most critically endangered and botanically most important hotspots. The forests of New Caledonia contain a unique list of 59 endemic species and many of these trees and plants are now beautifully set out in the gardens.
Once in the gardens we could see immediately some of the trees that were explained to us by our enthusiastic local guide. We then saw one of the most beautiful sights in the bird world as well, a colourful Peacock standing proud showing off his impressive tail feathers.
His partner was not far away and she seemed to be very disinterested by it all. A little further along we also saw another most unusual sight, a white Peacock.
We then came across a small group of Cagu birds. These are also endangered and are flightless, is thought only 200-1000 birds survive in the wild where it runs along the ground searching for its next meal just like a chicken.
We saw cages with huge fruit bats hanging around and beautiful flowers including the native Poche flower, somewhat reminiscent of Hibiscus but not the same family.
Later in the day I ventured out again and enjoyed seeing the views from viewpoints that clearly showed the beauty of the island to its best.
During World War II, Nouméa served as the headquarters of the United States military in the South Pacific and even today there is still evidence of their presence with the huge naval canons that they positioned on the island just in case invasion threatened.
On the opposite side of the city is the Notre dame du Pacifique lookout that is dominated by the statue of the Virgin Mary that once every 24 hours turns 360 degrees and is lit at night. This statue is very important to the local populace as they are mainly Catholic worshippers.
The soils here contain a considerable wealth of minerals, including about one-quarter of the world's nickel resources and if there was one blot on the landscape it would have to be the smelting works, however it does bring employment and wealth into the local economy.
I certainly enjoyed our call here at Noumea and I hope to return again one day as I am sure one of our ships will.
Many thanks for your report Graham.
Greetings from Aurora............
- Maureen and Roy send best wishes to Jenny and Dave Lenton - they tell me that Jenny is loving keeping up with this blog! Maureen and Roy have enjoyed the time of their lives in Sydney!
- Rosemary Allen sends Birthday Greetings to her Grand Daughter Katie Mawer who will be 9 on 12 March - Grandma will be thinking of our Katie and is enjoying so much her wonderful cruise on board Aurora.
- Mel and Vera send best wishes to Maureen and Bill who are also big blog fans - keep watching this space and one day you will spot Mel and Vera.
We are all a bit exhausted after all the excitement and action in Sydney so it will be an early night tonight. We sailed from Sydney at Midnight and I stayed on the aft decks until 0100 hours as our house band CARAVAN played on Deck 8 - the highlight being 'we are sailing' was we left the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge twinkling in the background as Aurora set her course for New Zealand.