The Baie du Carenage is one of the most protected anchorages in the South Pacific and is at the landward end of the Baie du Prony. There was a prison colony here in the 1800's and the prisoners logged the forests to provide wood for building Noumea - then the area's amazing mineral riches were discovered - the red earth in the sphere - when crushed and melted - yields nickel and iron - in nearly perfect proportions for making stainless steel. The land is also rich in cobalt and other heavy metals - so rich that most agricultural plants won't grow here. This is why no indigenous people live in this region and why the prison colony and small village that was founded here so long ago was abandoned.
For almost 50 years the land was allowed to return to wilderness - but now a new mining project has started in Baie du Prony and the crystal clear rivers, fields of orchids and exotic plant life is again heading for destruction.
For details on this anchorage see the cruising guide to New Caledonia.
New Caledonia is the closest South Pacific Island to Australia and New Zealand. It is a French Territory and although the official language is French the culture is a blend of Melanesian, European, Polynesian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indonesian, and more. There is one large mountainous island called Grande Terre and 6 smaller islands - the three Loyalty Islands, Belep and the Isle of Pines.The islands are remarkably unpopulated and there are vast areas of wilderness. There are hundreds of kilometers of walking treks, camp grounds, more than 42 parks and reserves, and crystal clear rivers with sparkling waterfalls. Almost one third of the population is located in the capital city of Noumea. Nickel mining is the primary industry and is the major contributor to the high standard of living in the country. Grande Terre is surrounded by the second largest barrier reef in the world and the protected lagoon created by this barrier reef is the largest in the world. Listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008, the lagoon is 24,000 square kilometers and supports a diverse and luxuriant fauna of fish and invertebrates.The vibrant, clear and rich colors are one of the first things that visitors notice when they arrive. Noumea has a complete range of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and activities to welcome visitors.