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In the late 1867 Captain Hippolyte Sebert founded the Village of Prony to begin the work of cutting trees to supply building material for Noumea. In 1873 the prison administration took over from the army and installed 150 convicts in this prison. The convicts were locked up here at night and during the day they cut trees and dragged the massive tree trunks to waiting coastal luggers that carried the wood to Noumea for construction. In 1887 the convicts were replaced by political exiles of France. In 1911 the trees were gone and the prison was closed.
Today there is a small group of vacation homes built in the ruins of the old prison. Pleasure yachts come from Noumea and around the world to explore the many anchorages of the Baie du Prony. For details of the anchorages of New Caledonia, visit 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.