Sunday, November 22, 2009

Yate to Prony sightseeing

Yesterday we had nothing to do and no money to do it with. What we did have, however, was a 4wd and a camera. So we went exploring. We drove to Yate and took some pictures from the lookout on the way...

We stopped at the Cascade de Wadiana for a sandwich. A couple of kids were having a great time climbing up the rocks and sliding down into the pool.

Just after the cascade is the old abandoned Goro mine site. It was an iron mine run by the Japanese and abandoned at the start of WW2.

This old mine has nothing to do with the new Goro refinery where Brendan works but it's interesting to see the old structures rusting away. On an overcast day it has a bit of a post apocalyptic feel.

The road then goes past the massive new Goro refinery.

We were hoping to track down the abandoned old copper mine in Baie de la Somme but couldn't find the right track and we were running out of light. Ah well, an adventure for another day.
We just had enough time for a bit of the 4wd equivalent of 'jumping in mud puddles'....
....and it was time for home. A successful day of cheap and cheerful amusement!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Camping de Tiakan

This weekend we went camping in the North-West of New Caledonia. Due to a lack of organisation, me forgetting my phone (on the charger at home), lack of mobile signal and general bad organisation, we didn't meet the friends we had planned to meet up with who had also come from Noumea for the weekend. Oh well. This is what happens here when you try to plan things three days in advance instead of three weeks. Nevermind- we had fun anyway. We saw the 'Big Chicken'....

The 'Sphinx'..... (try squinting and a bit of imagination)....
(the rock formation, not the man)

And we found an awesome campsite. Camping de Tiakan in Ponerihouen. 500xpf per person per night. Technically, there are hot showers, fire shelters, electricity and fares to pitch your tent under. Hot tip- get there on Friday (not Saturday) so you have your pick of the fares, and make sure that you have one where the light bulb works and you have a fire shelter. Our fare was great as a shelter and wind break.

Super Kia Sportage!
Thanks to the camp stove, we had nice hot coffees and omelette and toast for breakfast.

It wouldn't be a Brendan and Kate adventure without something a bit left field, so here's the site of the infamous Hienghene massacre where Jean Marie Tijiabo and other pro-Kanak independance activists were massacred.

aaaannnd a record of the 2 kilos of lychees we bought from a roadside stall before they disappear.

OK, I already ate some. We had some most excellent deer kebabs from another roadside stall too and managed a fairly successful small talk conversation in French.
Bonne route!
Bonne chasse!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Kayaking Bay of Prony 08-Nov-09

Yesterday we went on a kayak trip through the Bay of Prony with some friends. Prony has a red sand beach so it's a bit murky, but once you get past the breakers the water is a beautiful clear green-blue.

Bay of Prony
After we paddled through the bay, we continued up the river to some hot springs. The hot springs weren't really hot, but we did have a nice picnic, and everyone remembered to bring beer, so it was all good.

Kayaks on the river bank near the hot springs

Super attractive hot spring swamp

Marc Andre and Brendan having a deep and meaningful about how the Maple Leafs are still sucking this hockey season

We had a good time, but by 6pm Brendan and I were both suffering- Brendan from sunburned feet, and me from the deadly 'post hero syndrome'.....

Me being a hero
Me with post paddle arms

Ilot Tenia 15-Oct-09

OK, so I've been a bit lazy with the ol' blog. October wasn't really a very interesting month. I did go to Ilot Tenia though with Marc-Andre, Sophie and some of their friends, which was very cool. It's about an hour and a half drive north of Noumea, plus a 30 minute taxi boat ride. It's also not very expensive (for here) and the boat takes you snorkelling on the reef, so I plan on dragging everyone I know here at some point (that means you, mum and Brian, and Brendan too).

Reasons why Ilot Tenia is awesome:

1. Big things that live in the water. I prefer dolphins to huge stingrays, but hey, they'll do.
2. Bourake bay. So much blue.

3. Perfect white sand beaches and crystal clear water.

4. Big shady hut for picnicing in, and convincing certain people that they can hide in the shade and not get sunburned.
All in all, a pretty good day.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mt Koghi (La Cascade)

Today we went for a bit of a hike on Mount Koghi. It was fine, as hikes go- not too demanding, nice views etc. I only hurt myself once and it was my fault for thinking it would be more fun to slide down the steep gravelly bit on my heels (for the record, it was pretty fun, and the little bit of gravel rash was totally worth it). There was a nice little waterfall at the end of the path too.

Brendan at La Cascade
I took a few photos of the view on the walk and had some fun with the photostitch function on the computer when we got home. This program looks for overlapping parts of an image and uses them to stick several photos together to make a big panorama.

Pretty eh?

Octopussy (I ain't no)

On Friday, I cooked an octopus. Well to be precise I cooked half an octopus, for the following reasons:
1. Octopus (es? ii?) are big.
2. Octopus are not that cheap.
3. I really, really didn't want to have to deal with leftovers.
4. The less legs to strangle me with when I'm not looking, the better.

Lovely fishmonger at the market with my half an octopus.

So I got home from the market with a big bag of slimy legs. Not very appetising.

Big bag o'octopus.

Then I 'cleaned' the octopus, which means to remove the parts that are less appetising than the rest of the slimy tentacly edible bits.

Ink sac and.. umm... other bits.

Then I washed what was left and blanched it (rapidly boiled for a few minutes) which was a bit spooky, it looked like a big pissed off octopus head would come out any minute and get me.

Then (no pictures, this bit wasn't very interesting) I braised Mr. Octopus in the oven for about 4 hours as per the instructions I found on the internet. Afterwards all the fat and skin and suckers came off and I was left with the muscle.

All the nasty bits that came off after cooking- one tentacle worth.

I was left with a fairly disappointing amount of edible octopus which (luckily) looked nothing like what I started with. I sliced the tentacles in half-cm slices widthways and we had one tentacle in spanish style tapas with paprika and olive oil, and the other three in a salad with papaya and tomato and coriander. I had a couple of glasses of wine and forgot to take photos of the finished product, sorry. But if I had remembered, it looked a bit like this:

Photo of octopus tapas from www.

Next time I think we'll be eating something else.


A little while ago I thought I would try to cook rabbit. I hadn't cooked it before and it looked tasty in the recipe book.

Then I got the thing home from the butchers and had to carve it. Of course, it comes with its head and half its guts. Someone out there probably thinks those are the best bits. At this point I started to feel a bit sorry for it, sad little beast with it's paws chopped off.

Please don't eat me!!! Aaaarghhh!!!!!!

I got most of it organised (rabbit + wine + herbs + mushrooms + green olives in casserole dish, put in oven. Not hard) but it wouldn't stop looking at me resentfully.

That's what you get, silly human!
After all that the rabbit had the last laugh- it just tastes like chicken, only twice as expensive.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wood grubs and horse riding

Last weekend we went to Farino, about 1.5 hours drive from Noumea, for the wood grub festival..... where fair buxom wenches present your squirming lunch for your enjoyment.

Another grub, guv'nor?

Don't mind if I do!

Actually the truth is a bit more difficult. You have to catch your own grubs (though they are allegedly edible). We looked, and looked, and smashed up bits of wood with other bits of wood, but all we got was an angry centipede and a smashed thumb.

Marc-Andre and Brendan looking for some 'grub'.

After having a massive fail at the Bancoule festival (Wood grub = bancoule in French, which makes it more fancy and therefore less disgusting and more of a delicacy), we went horse riding in the nearby town of Sarramea. This was great. We had an awesome guide who was very patient with us, the horses were patient and nice and didn't try to kill us, nobody fell off, we saw some lovely countryside and we finished our ride just as everyone's bum was really starting to get sore. The company is Sarramea Randonnees and it's 5500XPF for 2 hours. The horses are well cared for and the business is well run. Highly recommended.

Sophie, Eliane, Brendan, Marc-Andre, Kate and our guide
After the horse riding we went to check out a local swimming hole called 'Le Cuve' (The Tank). It's pretty but too cold to swim right now.
Le Cuve

Then we ran into some crazy bush ninjas.
The boys with the 'Chop Chops' they bought from the Bancoule festival
Then we took some pictures of an awesome old haunted looking house.
The End!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Mare Retrospective 3

Our third and final day on Mare island. We got up early to begin the hike to Shabadran beach. Shabadran is an isolated beach which can only be reached by hiking over fairly unforgiving terrain. See the big jagged headland in the picture below? The beach is on the other side. The flat green bit in the foreground of the photo is the 'beginning' of the walk. To get there you have to travel about 7.5km of dirt road. We had planned to drive to the end of the dirt road but with 5 people and luggage in the back, our hire Peugot 206 was not up to the challenge, so we ended up walking most of that too. That wasn't too bad though- the dirt road is a cool and green walk through a big coconut grove, totally flat and very easy.

Beginning of hike to Shabadran

The hike around the rocky headland is 3.8km long. It doesn't sound like much but it took us about 1.5 hours each way. The climb begins with a bit of rock climbing up a sheer face about 4m high, then continues over razor-sharp fossilized coral rocks. The guide book says 'you need to be fairly fit to enjoy the walk'. A bit of an understatement.

Beginning the climb. Thanks to Marc and Sophie for this photo!
Looking back to beginning of walk

You gain quite a lot of elevation during the walk and have a good view of the ocean breaking on the rocks below.

View down from the hike

The hike can be fairly exhausting, not just physically but mentally as well. You have to judge each step very carefully as a misstep can lead to a twisted ankle, a bad fall down a cliff or cutting yourself on the sharp rocks. The photo below is the result of slipping on a bit of loose gravel and landing on my hands.


I would recommend to anyone attempting the hike in the future to take a camelbak type hydration backpack full of cold water, some high energy snacks, gloves (gardening gloves would be fine) and proper hiking boots.

Shredded running shoes

Now, it sounds like we didn't have a good time on our hike. That's not true- it's just that we didn't really anticipate how difficult it would be, so we weren't adequately prepared. As you can see from the photos, it is spectacularly beautiful, and a real adventure. Shabadran beach itself is your reward for reaching the end of the hike, and it's well worth the trouble. Shabadran is an lagoon of crystal clear water, soft white sand, coral and fish sheltered from the breakers by a rocky reef. Shabadran beach

In the photo below you can see the clear water and coral. It's a good idea to bring a snorkel and mask- the snorkeling is great- but don't bother with the flippers/fins. In the middle of the rocky reef there is a natural spa bath hollowed out by the action of the waves. Waves break over the top of the reef and create a waterfall into the spa. After the sweat and effort of the walk, sitting in cool water that fizzes and bubbles around you is brilliant.

Shabadran lagoon

We arrived back to our car about 1:30pm, which left just enough time to check our the 'Warrior's leap' before arriving back to the airport for the flight home. According to legend, a warrior once leapt over a 5m gap in the cliff to escape his enemies, escaping both the enemies and the 5m drop to the sea below. Luckily no climbing was involved. You can drive right up to the cliffs and there's a nice easy path down. You need a pretty good imagination to appreciate the legend but the sea is a pretty blue.

Pretty blue ocean at Warrior's Leap

Finally, all that was left was to catch our flight home and enjoy some well deserved beer! We had a great time in Mare and look forward to our next island adventure.