Levuka, Fiji


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Once aboard Silver Explorer, we headed overnight north rourd the main island of Fiji, and arrived the next morning at Levuka, a World Heritage Site. Levuka Historical Town is set amongst coconut and mango trees along the beach front of Ovalau Island against the forested slopes of the island’s extinct volcano.

From the 1820s onwards the port was developed as a centre of commercial activity by American and European colonisers and the town became the first colonial capital of Fiji, peacefully ceded to the British by Tui (King) Cakobau in 1874. A stone and concrete sea wall runs the length of Beach Street, from which other streets and lanes branch inland in a radial pattern following the contours of the land. Inland are the sites of two former indigenous villages Totoga (Vitoga) and Nasau located on one of the three creeks draining the slopes above the coastal plain. Copra sheds, warehouses, bond stores, port facilities and commercial buildings developed along Beach Street, and residences, religious, educational and social institutions grew up around the villages of the indigenous population. These are generally single or two storied corrugated iron or weatherboard clad timber buildings with hipped or gable roofs.

Development continued beyond removal of the capital to Suva in 1882 as companies continued to establish bases at Levuka, reflecting all stages of colonial development in the South Pacific.

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Key elements include the former Totoga and Nasau village sites, the former Cakobau Parliament House site (now the European Memorial), Morris Hedstrom bond store, the Baba indentured labour settlement, the Hennings residence, Captain Robbie’s bungalow, Sacred Heart Cathedral and Presbytery dating from the 1860s, the Royal Hotel founded in the late 1860s, Deed of Cession site, former Government (Nasova) House site, Port Authority, Post and Customs buildings together with their remnant tram tracks to the wharf, former Methodist Church and mission, Levuka Public School, Town Hall, Masonic Lodge, Ovalau Club, Bowling Club, workers cottages and the shell button factory site.

Levuka Historical Port Town is a rare example of a late colonial port town, which illustrates the cultural dyversity of non-settler communities in the Pacific, with an urban plan that merges local settlement traditions with colonial standards. As such, the town exhibits the processes of the late, industrialized stage of colonization, which was based on maritime extraction and export processes.

We had the morning to wander round the town, the idea was that local guides would be available at each inportant site, but Mick's organisation filed from day one, and no guides were ever to be seen

It was a short transfer over lunch to a new anchorage at Leleuvia Island, a small coral island south of Ovalau in a sea area known as Moturiki Passage. Leleuvia is a backpackers resort, and is certainly away from the troubles of the world. The island is extremely scenic and , surrounded by clear waters, palm trees and 2 km of white beaches- that's how big the island is and you will need only 20 minutes to walk around. Its what you imagine when you think of a South Pacific Island.

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On to next stop Fulanga

South Seas Holiday