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Nouvelle Calédonie, 1971

I was in New Caledonia in early 1971 as one of a group of teachers of French from Australia. We were supposed to be there to improve our French. As we spent most of our time with each other, we didn't.

This was what the airport looked like then.

These images are all taken from slides that weren't much good in the first place, and have degraded over the years. They've been scanned recently for this purpose, but not improved.

I think this was the road to the airport. Enjoy the quality of the photo, as they'll soon get worse.

We stayed at the Internat des Garçons. That's Daniel Lelong and unidentified female walking down to it. Daniel taught French at Christ Church Grammar School, as I did, tho he had more substantial authority to do so. As a francophone, he was one of the instructors at the Stage, rather than a learner like me.

Some of the school buildings (as I recall). Oh yes, and an Australian girl showing how short skirts were worn at the time. This was the 1970s, when the 1960s got to Australia. [copyright]

One of the less charming features of the Boys Boarding House was the toilets, which were not only squats but also 'mixtes'. I invented the perversion 'entendeurism' - from 'voyeurism' ... never mind: it's too hard to explain.

On the other hand, one of the more genuinely enjoyable features of life in Nouméa was the omnipresence of alcohol, which in the evenings (for me, anyway) took the form of Heineken beer. Lunch was always accompanied by copious quantities of free wine, with the result that a consequent rest usually followed, as here, on a picnic somewhere.

This was one view from a balcony of the Internat.

The public bus service. There was no bell: you just shouted 'prochain' (next) when you wanted it to stop.

But we had a special bus service, provided by the French Army. As our Stage was arranged at some level of Australian and French governments, we were looked after by the armed services.

Driver's eye view of Noumean streets. That's his lunch on the dashboard: like a typical Frenchman he has not left food to chance - it's too important.

The food throughout was more than satisfactory, so we never needed to go to a supermarket like this one. Which was just as well, as our French was RS, and it might have been embarrassing. (Tho the Heineken sign is attractive.)

One of the excursions arranged for us was this one: me voilà!

It was a village folklorique - OK, I admit I made that term up, cos I can't remember what it was actually called, but I think it was a reconstruction of how the original inhabitants lived.

I don't know about the others, but I had very little idea what we were taking photos of, or were supposed to look at.

Even at the time, I thought it looked ersatz.

We also tried to take photos of what I assumed was how the indigenous people actually lived - in their exotic beauty.

So here are some tourists.

And I assume this is a house in a real village. The barbed-wire fence continues to be a worry.

But the kids looked happy and healthy.

The highlight of the whole Stage was definitely the day trip to the Ile des Pins - one of the more beautiful places on Earth. The French Navy was kind enough to provide a whole ship to take us there - and a landing-craft to ... land.

We were there in the middle of the tropical day. The sand was brilliant white.

The guy on the left was a Frenchman. I think he was in the service, but spending a day off with us. That's 'our' ship in the background.

The Norfolk Island pines in the background give the island its name.

One sensible guy is covered up, but most of us didn't even have a hat on. I did, but still got painfully sunburnt.

This was the accommodation on the Island for the well-heeled tourist.

And that's about it. As you can see, the photos are getting so dark as to be indecipherable.

Garry Gillard | New: 28 December, 2009 | Now: 13 September, 2021