A day at the Parc des Grandes Fougeres.
We’ve been alternating our excursions and relaxation days in this humid weather. Our next excursion day was to the Giant Fern Park in the northern mountains with Isabelle and her friend Alex.
It was a long drive there through small towns and cattle farmlands. The road didn’t take us along the coast as we had expected but through an inland route where we sometimes could glimpse the sea. The whole sea area between Sarramea and Poya is marked as one of the World Heritage sites in New Caledonia but we only had time to see a small portion of it.
It was cooler in the forest under the trees and by the stream. We did see the famous giant fern and other species of fern such as the black tree fern. We also saw palm and bamboo trees. We saw and heard small birds, saw a bush turkey type of bird, lizards and flying crickets scuttling and jumping away from our feet, a hairy-legged spider on a rock and a beautiful blue butterfly. I think it was the Papilio montrouzieri butterfly. We kept hearing a strange kind of mobile buzzing sound all through our walk but couldn’t work out what kind of animal it was. We didn’t see the native green pigeon but the natural sights we did see were wonderful.
After our sweaty walk, we headed to the Plage of Ouano. It was all flat land to get there and we found a remote little beach with mangroves on one side and fishermen shacks on the other side. The sand was white and there were a couple of sailing boats a few metres from the shore. There was also one campsite with accommodation nearby.
We were about to go in for a swim when I was startled to see a large starfish with some kind of spikes on top. As we waded along the shoreline, we saw another one and then another one. They were everywhere! Needless to say, we decided not to go in. There were also shells moving with long crab-like legs sticking out. This starfish is referred to as the “knobby star” or “chocolate starfish”. When I found information about this starfish at http://echinoblog.blogspot.com/2008/08/starfish-conservation-protoreaster.html I was saddened to learn that they are being harvested.
Getting out of Noumea for day trips is a great idea if you want to see more of the natural world on land or on the sea but remember to always take maps, a bilingual dictionary, food and water.
We did well with preparing our baguette sandwiches with cheese, pates and veggies. Our hotel always had a basket of fresh baguettes and croissants and the kitchenette in our studio made it easy to prepare food for lazy days or busy outings. The restaurant was only open for breakfast and lunch during this period and having dinner out every night gets expensive so if you do come here think about the practicalities that suit you. There are plenty of supermarkets in Noumea with French and some Australian produce.
I recommend that Australians do come to explore this beautiful island neighbour in the Pacific! There are no hawkers, no hustlers or dramas. People are relaxed and friendly and it’s only a 3 hour flight from Sydney so no jet lag or time difference!