‘The most terrifying experience and holiday of my life’ – First rescued Aussies return from New Caledonia

‘The most terrifying experience and holiday of my life’ – First rescued Aussies return from New Caledonia
Edited by Travel Weekly

    Dozens of Australians have landed back in the country on two government-assisted flights from New Caledonia.

    In an update on social media platform X, Senator Penny Wong confirmed the safe arrival of 108 Australians and other tourists into Brisbane last night, saying “we continue to work with partners on further flights, prioritising passengers based on need”.

    Six people are now reported to have died after protests and violence broke out in the territory ahead of a vote in the French National Assembly on changes to the New Caledonian constitution.

    The country’s national airport – La Tontouta International Airport – has been shut until further notice with many of its commercial flights listed as being canceled.

    According to the latest news update there are more than 200 Australians still stuck within the territory.

    “We’ve prioritised the elderly, the pregnant and the most vulnerable,” Pacific Minister Pat Conroy said.

    Australians return from New Caledonia (Featured Image: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade via Penny Wong on Platform X)

    Author Samantha Homer, one of the Australians onboard the aircraft, took to Facebook to let her family and friends know she had arrived safely back in the country.

    “We got evacuated from Noumea on a military aircraft called a Hercules. Such a surreal experience,” she revealed.

    “That will go down as the most terrifying experience and holiday of my life and one for the memory books. Thank you for all your concerns and well wishes.”

    She expressed her concern for Australians still stuck in New Caledonia: “I just hope the rest of the Aussies make it home safely.”

    Source: Samantha Homer, Facebook

    Not all tourists stranded on the island have been so lucky, one X user tweeted Penny Wong asking for assistance for those stranded outside of Noumea.

    The user, who has the name Robert Brassington, replied to Wong’s post saying: “What about assistance for Australians isolated on the outer islands throughout New Caledonia, we have no way of getting to Noumea for emergency evacuation!!”

    In another post he said that whilst he understood the situation in Noumea is “extremely difficult” there are also Asutralians in need stuck on islands elsewhere in the country.

    “We have 11 Australians on Ile des Pins [an island in New Caledonia], 1 has now ran out of life saving medication”.

    There are just two airlines that fly directly from Australia to New Caledonia: Qantas and Aircalin. Both airlines have canceled flights into the region with Aircalin saying that flights will be rescheduled as soon as the airport reopens.

    The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have reportedly contacted Australians still stranded in the region saying that French authorities will be running flights on Wednesday local time.

    (Featured image: Australians board flight home, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade via Senator Penny Wong on Platform X.)

    Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

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