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An Australian woman trapped in New Caledonia amid civil unrest has compared the streets to a “war zone”.

Tonia Scholes was appearing on Channel 10’s The Project last night. She is one of around 300 Aussies who are stranded in the destination after the international airport was closed and a curfew imposed due to rioting that has left at least six people dead.

The disturbances began last week over plans to change voting rights in provincial elections in the French-ruled territory.

Ms Scholes told the program that she is staying five kilometres from the capital Noumea.

“We were having a lovely dinner with girlfriends, we started to hear some little pops in the distance and we were like ‘fireworks,” she said.

“Not fireworks. The next morning there were several plumes of smoke and the air quality was not very good and the first indication we had was our hostess from the Airbnb messaged me and was like ‘Are you OK?”

Ms Scholes added that the reality of the situation hit home when she went to the local grocery store.

“It was like a war zone. There’s burnt cars, there’s barricades, there’s remnants of fires, there’s people standing on street corners drinking hard liquor and having what almost seems like a party.”

Ms Scholes said she was desperate to get home but was critical of the Australian government for a lack of communication. The Australian Defence Force is apparently on standby to evacuate Australians left stranded in New Caledonia.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) says Aussies should reconsider their need to travel to New Caledonia.

A statement on the DFAT website says political demonstrations and protests are occurring and may turn more violent at short notice.

“A state of emergency is in place. There’s a nationwide curfew in place between 6pm and 6am until further notice,” the statement continues.

“Local authorities have advised to strictly limit movement during the day. Australian officials are following these instructions. There’s potential for demonstrations in other locations. Essential services are impacted.”

The Australian Consulate-General in Noumea is temporarily closed but Australian officials remain in Noumea.