Mont Kaala, located before the village as you come from the south, and gomenol, a niaouli extract, have given their names to this district which lives on agriculture and mining. As a footnote to history, Ouaco, which is part of the Kaala Gomen district, was very famous in its day. For a start, it is the Caledonian site nearest Australia, and, as such, the first flight between the two countries took off from Ouaco in 1931, at a time when cable already linked the two countries for telegraph connections. A small stele placed on the Téouidié site recalls this unusual episode in local communications history.
Ouaco also became famous throughout New Caledonia for its corned beef canning factory, particularly at the time of Colonel Dix. Sent out by the English company which had taken over the factory, this man had staff who looked after thousands of head of cattle, and Ouaco was almost a law unto itself, with its abattoir, its meat canning factory and its many agricultural products. The euphoria lasted until the 1970s when Ouaco turned to mining activity. The place, which is rarely visited, bears witness to a past in which the country’s agricultural and mining activities were combined. If you look towards the ocean, you can still see Colonel Dix’s home, facing the lagoon. At the seaside, there are the remains of the railway used to transport goods to the wharf, when boats came to load up with the canning factory’s products. And if you turn around, you have a magnificent unrestricted view of the majestic massifs containing the precious nickel ore, which now feeds the population since the end of the grand old days.
Location and access: 350 kilometres north of Noumea by the RT1 (3.5 hours by road).
Air connections: Flights twice a week to Koumac (Tuesday and Thursday) from the Magenta domestic airport, tel. 25 14 00; Aircal, tel. 25 21 77.
Tourist information: Mairie de Kaala Gomen (Town Hall), tel. 47 67 15.
District festival: Music festival in June.
Gendarmerie: Tel: 47 89 55
Post Office: Post office agency, Kaala Gomen village, tel. 47 67 01.
Service stations: Mobil Koumac, tel. 47 65 07; Shell Koumac, tel. 42 82 82; Total Koumac, tel. 47 61 75.