It was one of my last days in New Caledonia. Kane (he of Fellow Travellers fame) and I had gone to the wonderful Parc Provincial de la Rivière Bleue in the south of Grande Terre – he for some hiking and sightseeing, I mainly for the remarkable bird life there.
The park closed its gates at 5pm, and we didn’t want to drive all the way back to Nouméa just yet. Kane had announced already the day before that he would like to see the barrage de Yaté in the very south of Grande Terre. Why? He couldn’t really say. Probably because it’s there, and because it’s (supposedly) huge. And it’s a water dam, which in itself is an interesting concept in that it is entirely artificial and has a huge impact on the surrounding environment.
The area around La Rivière Bleue is already linked to the artificial lake. The greys and greens of the vegetation contrasts very well with the red tones of the bare soil which is rich in minerals. The sky was full of clouds and there was even a light drizzle from time to time, but also sunny spells every now and then. Everything looked promising!
Not quite knowing what would await us at the lower end of the reservoir, we decided to make the detour. It was clear that the water level of the lake was very low (drought!), thus exposing a lot of the ground that is usually below the water. The nearer we got to the dam itself (it lies at the southern end of the lake), the more interesting the landscape became. I stopped the car every couple of minutes in order to jump out and take pictures.
The actual barrage de Yaté is quite a distance away from the town after which it is named. There are no noteworthy villages or other settlements around the lake. But the road alongside its northern and western shores is rather busy with huge trucks from the nickel mines and other industrial vehicles. Spooky!
The dam itself was less impressive than we had thought. Also there was no possibility of walking on it or crossing over to the other side. Disappointing!
But the sky and the light, they became more and more interesting! Not to mention the skeleton trees. I felt as if I was on a different planet or in a post-apocalyptic scenery – not quite knowing which one I’d choose if I had to…
Then it started to rain again, while the sun was still shining. The atmosphere became more and more surreal.
A rainbow, of course!
All the while, on the car stereo I had Depeche Mode playing at full blast (well, nearly). “Music for the masses” and “Ultra”, thanks for asking. (Yes, the evolution of my taste in music came to a complete halt some time in the early nineties.)
It was a very remarkable evening indeed. A great Dankeschön to Kane for suggesting the trip! To me it seemed that somehow the gods had finally understood which ingredients I needed for some decent landscape photography – open spaces, interesting structures to incorporate in the composition, clouds in the sky etc. After weeks and weeks of complaining about a lack of real landscape in New Caledonia, I finally got what I wanted: an overdose of scenery and atmosphere as a belated present for christmas!
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