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Reflections: New Caledonia – The One Way Road and The Characters You Meet

Over my many years of travel, I’ve come across my fair share of odd and quirky road rules. Most of these rules were part of the countries road laws. With others being unwritten rules of the land, that if not adhered too. Could result in the short and abrupt coming of your demise. Come to think of it, my home town of Melbourne is known for one of these (the infamous Melbourne hook turn), but I’d like to share with you one that I’ve never come across in over 20 years of travel.

The People You Meet On New Caledonia's One Way Road

During our ‘New Caledonian Camping Tour’ of a couple of years ago. Liza and I hired a small hatch back car, put the iPod into shuffle mode and hit the road. Over a three week period we explored the length and breadth of this French overseas territory (it’s actually quite a large island). Enabling us to experience quite a bit of New Caledonia’s beautiful scenery and culture.

Obviously I’ve Seen One Way Roads Before, But Not Like This

On our journey through the rarely visited South East of the island, we were confronted with New Caledonia’s bizarre ‘One Way Road’. Now we’ve all seen one way roads before, and I’ve also seen many one way roads that change direction due to the required traffic flow, but this particular road simply alternated the direction of traffic flow on the hour.

During daylight and on even hours the road would be opened North to South, and odd hours from South to North. Come nightfall though, the road would become a standard two way road. (God help those trying to pass each other at night though!)

Road Sign At The Entry Of New Caledonia's One Way Road

The road itself was a rough and rugged dirt track. Not to dangerous in the dry, but could become quite dangerous in the wet. At times the track was barley wide enough for one vehicle. More notably during the most dangerous section near the top of the mountain.

The Characters You Meet Whilst Traveling In Obscure Locations

Waiting for our side of the One Way Road to open. I couldn’t help but notice a large gathering of people close to the entrance. They were no doubt having a great old time. Knocking back a few beverages with the smell of a noxious weed also in the air.

They spotted me taking some photo’s of the entrance sign and jumped up and down begging to have their photo taken. I walked on over and pulled the camera out. There was a great deal of laughter as I clicked away a couple of frames. I had a somewhat brief and broken conversation in a mixture of basic French and English (laughter was more the language we were using though) before heading back to the car.

Driving Along New Caledonia's One Way Road

Taking just 20-30 minutes to navigate, the action was over all to quickly but it was still a memorable afternoon,and something that I have never come across before (or at least that I can remember anyway).

Your Thoughts and Comments

Has anyone out there been on this road before, or traveled on one similar? Maybe you’ve been on another bizarre road that you’d like to share.

A Little More About The Author

Jason has traveled the world extensively during the last 20 years, with overland journeys on six continents and across over 90 countries. This site serves as a chronicle of the images and tales from these journeys, as well as offering advice and general information for other like minded travelers.

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  1. One of my favorite countries I’ve ever visited! Wish I had had the time to get off the beaten track like you did.

    • Jason says:

      Hey Andi, I did enjoy New Caledonia as well. With the 3 weeks we had touring the island, we got to see a fair bit. I feel the best way to see the island of New Caledonia is by a camping tour. They are well set up for this, with lots of camp grounds (with no or minimal hotels or guest house’s) in the harder to reach area’s.

  2. Well, clearly there is not much traffic as circulation in either direction is OK during the night. Don’t you think it might be to save.avoid cost of building a wider/better road? Anyway, I was disappointed not to read more of yr adventures as I like NC very much and in fact I wrote the first guide to the island back in the 1970s.

    All the best

    • Jason says:

      Hey Christine, I think your spot on with the roadway remaining one way due to cost. We only had a couple of vehicles heading our way. I did write a little about our camping tour (there’s a link in the post above). I did enjoy New Caledonia, especially once out of Noumea (although I did enjoy Noumea as well). Wow, writing the first guide to the island int he 1970′s must have taken some work. Who was it written for?

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