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Dumbea River Big Pool New Caledonia
New Caledonia

There is a lot of history here. This is the Dumbea River Watershed Reserve and the water from this river supplied the growing city of Noumea with fresh water for over a hundred years.

Noumea was founded in 1854. It was, at first, called Port de France and the location was selected for the excellent natural harbour. But the site had no source of fresh water. At first a small river, the Yahoué, supplied water to the colony but it was never enough and in 1893 the colonists built an impressive 20km long aqueduct up into the mountains where they constructed a dam on the Dumbea river.

The mountain watershed around the Dumbea was protected as a water reserve and no building or mining was allowed to threaten Dumbea's water supply area. The pathway I stood on when I took this sphere image covers the 120 year old iron aqueduct

The enormous natural pool below me was a popular swimming hole when the dam was being built just a short distance from here. By 1996 Noumea had over 76,000 residents and the Dumbea could no longer supply Noumea's water requirements. Plus the old iron aqueduct had some serious leaks. The City built a new aqueduct over 50 km long to the Tontouta River and this was put into service in 2001.

The Dumbea aqueduct is now abandoned and the old iron pipe broken in many places. But the mountainous watershed reserve is still a protected wilderness area and a very popular place for Noumea residents to picnic and camp on the weekends. In 2010, following a series of fires set by mindless, drunken weekend idiots the government barred the road and the river to prevent access by cars. Now, if someone wishes to visit this huge pool they have to walk about an hour to get there.

People still do make the trek, but not people with big coolers full of beer and BBQ fixings. They stay in an area where there are picnic facilities along the winding dirt road, in a zone that can be accessed more easily by fire trucks.

One remarkable side effect of the need to walk to the site, in addition to the absence of blaring country western, reggae and hip hop, is that after only two years a lot of the graffiti has faded away and the litter has vanished. Areas that were blackened cinders just a couple of years ago are now showing a blush of green again.

When I stood right in the same spot in 2009 the big pool was well populated with swimmers. Sun bathers lay like big colourful seals on the river rocks. Last Saturday when we hiked here to take this sphere image we only saw one family of four and one jogger. It was nice, actually.

Copyright: Richard Chesher
Type: Spherical
Resolution: 12732x6366
Uploaded: 20/05/2012
Updated: 26/05/2014
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Tags: dumbea river; dumbea riviere; new caleodnia; swimming; freshwater; water; reserve; water reserve
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More About New Caledonia

New Caledonia is the closest South Pacific Island to Australia and New Zealand. It is a French Territory and although the official language is French the culture is a blend of Melanesian, European, Polynesian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indonesian, and more. There is one large mountainous island called Grande Terre and 6 smaller islands - the three Loyalty Islands, Belep and the Isle of Pines.The islands are remarkably unpopulated and there are vast areas of wilderness. There are hundreds of kilometers of walking treks, camp grounds, more than 42 parks and reserves, and crystal clear rivers with sparkling waterfalls. Almost one third of the population is located in the capital city of Noumea. Nickel mining is the primary industry and is the major contributor to the high standard of living in the country. Grande Terre is surrounded by the second largest barrier reef in the world and the protected lagoon created by this barrier reef is the largest in the world. Listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008, the lagoon is 24,000 square kilometers and supports a diverse and luxuriant fauna of fish and invertebrates.The vibrant, clear and rich colors are one of the first things that visitors notice when they arrive. Noumea has a complete range of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and activities to welcome visitors.