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Monday, November 7, 2016

New Caledonia: Prony Village -- Historic Prison Labor Camp

This banyan tree roots have taken over the foundation
of Prony Village's logging supervisor's office.
Wayne called it poetic justice.
New Caledonia: Prony Village was one of five stops in Prony Bay on Wayne’s “must stop” list  Ilot Casy (click this and this for Ilot Casy posts), Prony Village, Carrenege Bay A, Carrenege Bay B, and Anse Majic (aka Rude de L’Est G). There was another boat anchored off Prony Village in Anse Sebert, but there was still room for our boat, too.

Much as it would’ve made our life more convenient, Prony Village, next to the more popular Baie de la Somme, is not a place you can buy a beer, onions, fuel or anything else.  Then again, everything is free.

Built in 1867,   Prony Village is a blast from its distant past, a historic park mix of reconstruction and remnants, dedicated to tell the story of some of New Caledonia’s earliest European settlers.  Prony Village's initial inhabitants were primarily political prisoners France placed into a labor camp there, to harvest and mill local timber to support France’s blossoming colonization efforts on this resource-rich island. 






One of several displays depicting prisoner torture
in historic Prony Village, New Caledonia.
In 1873, more troublesome habitual offenders were brought in, who were more inclined to attempt escape.  In response, the prison guard’s "disciplinary actions" were tantamount to torture.

In 1883 some of the prisoners – originally the logging camp started with 29 convicts -- were granted their freedom and land to rebuild their lives.  However, less than 20 years later, in 1901, only two were still successfully living there.


















Orange - an unusual color for a Peace Lily.
Did its color from the nickel or iron ore in the soil?
For visitors today, Prony Village provides pleasant walking trails through well-manicured grounds populated with specimen plants, historical signage with vintage photos and explanatory text in French and English.  It took us less than two hours to leisurely walk all Prony Village’s trails, including a foray over to the dock on Baie de la Somme. 







Not quite sure what these were - giant orchids?  These Prony Village specimen plants reached 8 feet tall, and were sweetly fragrant.
The historic trail criss-crosses the longer Grand Randomee (GR1) trail.  It took us a while to sort out the relative signs pertinent to each trail. An “X” on a trail branch needed to be checked against the trail color coding – it indicated whether a particular path was for the historic trail, the Grand Randomee trail, or both or neither trails.

Trail and map for Prony Village within Baie de la Somme, Prony Bay, New Caledonia.
We felt the time we dedicated to Prony Village was just about right, though it further reinforced Prony Bay’s Oompa-Loompa tendency.  If visiting Prony, we recommend you pre-select a sacrificial set of clothes and shoes for your Prony explorations, a dedicated containment bag for your shoes in the dinghy, as well as keeping a tub of water, scrub brush and soap ready to use as soon as you board your boat after your amble.

Popular anchoring Baie de la Somme is adjacent Prony Village, New Caledonia.
Ferns, Prony Village trail.
Location Location

This blog post is a recent flash back to our time cruising Prony Bay (Anse Sebert just off Pony Village, S22.19.264 E166.49.635, September 29, 2016), September 27 - October 7, 2016.  This was pre-posted to run while we're on passage from New Caledonia to Bundaberg Australia. 















Cruising By the Numbers

  • Our November 2016 sail from New Caledonia Australia is 760 miles.  
  • In October we spent almost a week road tripping New Caledonia, nearly traveling tip-to-tail on Grande Terre.
  • Our September 2016 sail from Vanuatu to New Caledonia was 305 miles.
  • Our August 2016 sail from Fiji to Vanuatu was 525 miles.
  • We cruised just under 440 miles in Fiji, between late May and early August.  
  • Our May 2016 sail from New Zealand to Fiji was 1090 miles.
  • December 2015 - May 2016 if we weren't cruising New Zealand or hunkering, we were making massive road trips from New Zealand's tip to its tail.
  • From December 2014 - November 2015 we sailed from Northern Florida's Atlantic side to New Zealand, over 10,000 miles, with more than a few stops in between.
  • December 2013 - May 2014 we sailed 1792  miles from Jacksonville Florida to the Bahamas. and back.
  • March 2012 we bought Journey in St. Lucia.  September 2012 we moved aboard, did some boat work, then sailed her to Jacksonville Florida by June 2013, 3762 miles.

By the time this posts, we'll be somewhere between
these two points (New Caledonia and Bundaberg Australia).
Up Next

If we stuck to our most recent plan, we left Noumea (and wifi) Sunday, October 30, 2016, made the jump from New Caledonia, Tuesday November 1, 2016.  We'll be out of wifi range until we're set-up for wifi again in Australia.  There will be some pre-posted catch up posts on New Cal while we're underway.  Once in Oz, we'll check in at Bundaberg, then travel South down the East Coast to Pittwater, near Sydney where we'll park Journey.  We'll travel over land there for a bit and figure out where to go back to work somewhere in the world.  Job tips are appreciated!