In the north-western part of the Grande Terre situated to the south of Koumac and over 350 km from Nouméa, Kaala-Gomen has had several “lives”. Previously an animal rearing region home to New Caledonia’s biggest livestock holding, today it is primarily oriented towards mining.
In a way, this “double life” is also reflected in the municipality’s composite name. It comes, on the one hand, from Mount Kaala, situated before the village when travelling from the south and, on the other, from the seaside Gomen tribe.
From the Gomen tribe to gomenol…
This tribe’s name is also associated with gomenol, which is none other than the name given to niaouli essence, highly prominent in the region. This tree from the Myrtaceae family is very common on the western coast of New Caledonia (and, similarly, on the eastern cost of Australia). In addition to its essential oil, with its remarkable phytotherapy properties, the niaouli tree is exploited for its wood and flowers which are used to manufacture a very popular kind of honey.
This region is sure to win over lovers of wide open spaces and diverse landscapes. The mountain ranges surrounding Kaala-Gomen offer a genuine paradise for paragliding lovers! But take care if you decide to tackle the route leading to the Ouazangou-Taom (1,092 m) massif. Having been mined for nickel for over forty years, it is subject to significant traffic from huge mining trucks driving up towards the summit or down its slopes. It is thus essential to respect safety precautions!
Colonel Dix, king of Caledonian corned-beef!
Before experiencing its own green gold (nickel) rush, the municipality was well known as a livestock rearing site. In Ouaco, Colonel Dix, a legendary character created by an English company, directed a famous corned beef manufacturer throughout all of New Caledonia! At the time, the site had the territory’s largest livestock holding with several thousand animals. Ouaco was virtually self-sufficient at the time, with its own abattoir. This state of agricultural utopia lasted until the early 70s, when Kaala-Gomen took a new turn into mining.
If you look towards the ocean, you can still see Colonel Dix’s famous house opposite the lake. And, on the seaside, the remains of the railway used to carry the factory’s products to the wharf are still visible. Relics from another era!
- Nouméa Tourism Office
- Opening hours: from Monday to Friday : 8:00-17:30, Saturday : 9:00-15:30, and Sunday 10:00-13:00
- Telephone: +687 28 75 80
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition to its bygone corned beef factory, Ouaco also garnered a degree of fame for a widely held misconception. Indeed, Ouaco is the closest point to Australia. Naturally, it was from there that the first airplane connecting New Caledonia to its large neighbor took off in 1931. Back then, a telegraph cable connected Australia to Caillou, and of course it led to Ouaco! A memorial stone at the Téoudié site serves as a reminder of this unusual period in the history of communication!
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