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Nauru: Nauru Phosphate Cantilevers

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Nauru Phosphate Cantilevers | Nauru | Oceania

[Visited: October-November 2012]

Even though I had heard about them, when our plane was in its final approach, and the small island appeared on my left, the cantilevers immediately caught my attention. The entire island is surrounded by a ring of shallow water with coral pinnacles, the enormous metal cantilevers on the west were constructed so that phosphate could be loaded directly on large ships moored just off the reef; it was very clear to see from the sky. Outside the reef, you can see that the sea is deep; the island seems to rise straight from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. In fact, this is supposed the origin of Nauru, a large chunk of coral rock pushed upwards from the seabed.

Picture of Nauru Phosphate Cantilevers (Nauru): The cantilevers seen at sunset

After collecting my passport again at the government building, the day was already drawing to a close, and I headed to the cantilever area. Walking the beach under the structures, I realized how big they actually were. High above me, I saw a security guard on a walkway next to a kind of tunnel through which the phosphate would be transported off the island. Big concrete circular blocks lie in the sea, supporting the structures. The sun was sinking fast towards the horizon, and the cantilevers turned into black silhouettes against a dark blue sky with pink clouds. From this perspective, it seemed nothing was happening - it would take a ship moored at the other side to see action here.

Picture of Nauru Phosphate Cantilevers (Nauru): Daylight view of the cantilevers transporting the phosphate to ships

A little to the south, there were more cantilevers, but they were obviously out of order. I would learn only later that that is Cantilever 1, the original one built to facilitate the export of phosphate, which was destroyed during a bombardment in World War II; hence Cantilever 2 was built once the war was over. How much I wanted to see a ship here and see the phosphate being pumped into it; but it was not going to happen. Instead, I sat on a rock, and watched the sun go down behind the cantilevers, making for quite a sight in itself. I would find myself coming back in the next days, also during daytime, but the location on the western coast of Nauru makes them just perfect objects for a sunset view.

Picture of Nauru Phosphate Cantilevers (Nauru): Cantilever 1 seen from the air
Picture of Nauru Phosphate Cantilevers (Nauru): Cantilevers silhouetted at sunset
Picture of Nauru Phosphate Cantilevers (Nauru): Cantilever seen at sunset
Picture of Nauru Phosphate Cantilevers (Nauru): Silhouette of a cantilever after sunset
Picture of Nauru Phosphate Cantilevers (Nauru): Cantilevers used to load phosphate on ships
Picture of Nauru Phosphate Cantilevers (Nauru): Cantilevers silhouetted against the sky at sunset
Picture of Nauru Phosphate Cantilevers (Nauru): Cantilevers at the end of the day, seen from Command Ridge
Picture of Nauru Phosphate Cantilevers (Nauru): View of the cantilevers at Aiwo
Picture of Nauru Phosphate Cantilevers (Nauru): The cantilevers were built to span the shallow waters between coast and reef
Picture of Nauru Phosphate Cantilevers (Nauru): Sunset rendering Cantilever 1 as a silhouette
Picture of Nauru Phosphate Cantilevers (Nauru): A bomb and ensuing fire destroyed Cantilever 1 during World War II

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