Fiji # 6: Lautoka

The Port of Lautoka emerged out of the morning mist as MV Reef Endeavour inched its way towards the wharf.

Our original destination was Denarau, Nadi but our Captain changed course during the night to this Port because of the winds.

 I didn’t mind. I’d never been here before.



P1130807  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

This is not a town frequented by tourists. It’s a busy port for import and export.



P1140027  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

As the sun warmed the air, more of this busy port became visible as we waited to disembark for the day.

We were to have a day on land while some passengers disembarked and others joined the ship.



P1130823  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

The opposite side of the port is just marshy scrub.



P1130824  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

We didn’t go into the town centre but took the road around this memorial to head south.

Our destination for the day was the Orchid Gardens of the Sleeping Giant!

On the way I took photos of the countryside from the car window.



P1140016  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

There are several of these well kept roundabouts on the road that joins Lautoka to Nadi.

This one has a sign that welcomes you to Lautoka, the “Sugar City” –

this area is one of four major sugar growing areas in Fiji and the main sugar export port.

Its estimated that 200,000 people in Fiji depend on the sugar cane industry for their income.



P1130825  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

We saw several areas where various commodities awaited shipping. These were wood chips.



P1130831  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

A large flour mill used a rather clever bi-line for it’s product:

Raising the standard of flour” !



P1130837  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

As you see in most of the world’s ports these days, there were piles of shipping containers.



P1130988  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

The story of the Fiji sugar cane industry is a long and involved one. But one of the most important factors that still has implications for life in Fiji today was the use of indentured labour from India to help make this industry a viable one.

In the 1870‘s, the British Colonial Government began to recruit indentured workers from India and South East Asia to help develop the sugar cane industry in Fiji.  Over 37 years, 61,000 such workers arrived in Fiji. They came from different regions and from different backgrounds and castes. Many came from rural Indian villages.

The indenture contracts required them to work in Fiji for a period of five years in often difficult conditions.  Most never returned to India.  From the early 1900s, Indians started arriving in Fiji as free settlers.  Nowadays, most Fijian Indians have lost touch with and feel no connection with the country of their ancestors. They feel as much Fijian as their native ethnic Fijian counterparts.

Fijians of Indian descent are concentrated in the so-called Sugar Belt and in cities and towns on the northern and western coasts of the major islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Differences between the two communities, ethnic Fijians and Indian Fijians, have characterized Fijian politics since independence in 1970… and still do. But the intermingling of peoples makes Fiji a colourful, multi ethic country.



P1130999  ©  JT  of   jtdytravels

Fijians of Indian descent make up a large proportion of people in the Lautoka area.

This is a small community Hindu temple.

There are much larger and very colourful temples closer to the big towns.



P1130998  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

Education is very important in the Indian Fijian community. This is one of their schools.

They believe, as I do, that a good education leads to wider opportunities in life.

Educated Indian Fijians own many of the businesses in towns.

They also hold many public service positions.



P1140001 ©  JT  of jtdytravels

We drove on through the farming countryside, the ocean never far from the view.

The remains of a large road sign showed more of the cyclone damage.



P1130987  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

This farm had a crop of taro, a root vegetable, the most common carbohydrate food eaten in Fiji.


P1130838  ©  JT of jtdytravels

P1130838 © JT of jtdytravels

Waiting for the bus, Fiji style.



P1130838  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

Cows grazed freely along the road side beside this Christian church.



P1130852  ©  JT of jtdytravels

There were several churches along the way, often much larger and in better condition than the houses.



P1130993  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

Finally, we came to the rocky hills of the sleeping giant –

close to our destination for the day,  ‘The Orchid Gardens of the Sleeping Giant’.



P1130857  ©  JT of jtdytravels

A rather rough road lead through yet more sugar cane farms towards the hills and the garden.



P1130858 ©  JT of jtdytravels

This garden had been hit heavily by the Cyclone. However, we were told it was back in fairly good order.

We would soon find out and I will share those photos in the next episode.


All Photographs ©  JT and DY  of jtdytravels


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