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Diary (page 3)


"Back from Nouméa I received the order to be ready to leave for the North in order to look around where some golden plots had been found. So I left the exploration of the city's neighborhood and just delt with preparations of my journey. At last, they were finished up. Seven marine corps's soldiers had to go with me with the double mission to escort and help in earth digging and it was still the schooner The New Caledonian who had to transport us until Poebo. To go from Noumea to Poëbo we had to, as usual, navigate between the line of coral reef and the land. In this way, every evening, rather early, we could reach a bay to spend there the night. Furthermore, usually, we had time to go ashore and to visit a little the country. The island whose banks we followed consists generally of mountain's chains, secondary mountain ranges and more or less isolated or grouped peaks. The only plains which one meets are formed there with the deltas of the big rivers, ending in the sea after long circuits in internal valleys usually very deep.
Although the lines on top of the mountainous chains have very variable directions one notices soon that main orientation is north west to south east…

The aspect of these mountains change completely as the rocks which they are made of, vary themselves, and this fact, which was already observed in Australia, is so striking here that it can by itself, in most of cases, allow an exercised eye to show at first the kind of the underlying rocks. So serpentines form bleak sites, turned upside down, steep grounds, difficult for walking, covered usually with a thin red clay in the middle of which vegetate here and there some bouquets of sick, half dead shrubs, with hard, black, dry, breakable branches, spreading in their tip some yellowed sheets.


 


Somewhere else, by pushing us below the thick layer of plant humus, we shall find schistose rocks, lime stones etc. in brief and, generally speaking all the cliffs else than cliffs serpentineuses. Calms kept us in the magnificent South bay, and I spent two days walking through mountains, going into raptures in front of the huge quantities of ore which cover the country and which I recognized soon by the analysis as of an unique-nature-in-the-world by their complexity because they hold, in diverse proportions, some manganese, some iron, some nickel, some chromium and some cobalt. Beyond Gore, the wind, whose direction was then very favorable pushed us soon in front of the mouth of the beautiful river Yaté where some months later had to happen one of the most important events of the history of the New Caledonian colonization. On the evening, we reached, in the tribe of Kuanné, not far from Unia, a bay which wears also the name of " Bay of the massacre", name which one can attach to many other nooks of "rivages océanniens" which reminds here of a gloomy event.

 


The photography which accompanies the text was taken by Louis Armand in 1856. It is entitled " Mr. Bérard massacred with his companions " Indeed, it is about the famous colonist Theodore Bérard, former police chief of the navy, which, in 1855 settled as colonist in Fort of France, then in the Mount Dore where he obtained from the administration a great concession. It is there that he was attacked and killed with 26 of its employees by hostile and kanaks anxious to see progressing the European installation. In 1861, a master-of foreign-going-ship, M.DARNAUD, who had taken charge to look for coalmines around the Golden mountain, began to pursue his investigations more in the North; he was alone with three Kanaks in a small boat and went ashore every day to visit the country. This unfortunate didn't go very far because, in the bay where we anchored, natives massacred him as well as his three companions, made a feast of their bodies and looted the boat.

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