A village once punctuated by prison life
The village of Prony located at the southern tip of New Caledonia is famous for the remains of its prison and for its namesake bay. This is a historic place that was the scene of the construction of the country.
In 1854 the commander Le Brun discovered this bay, to whom he gave the name of his boat: Prony.
New Caledonia booming at that time, has many raw material requirements particularly in terms of wood for Noumea. It is in this light that the captain Sebert, having discovered the many timber resources of the Bay of Prony, established the first camp in order to launch a logging operation in 1867.
The prison authorities then took over operation and startied to deport detainees. They become the main workforce in the region for wood but also the construction of roads and infrastructure. In total,75 convoys of convicts ran between the France mainland and New Caledonia, bringing more than 22 000 people (male and female) to populate the colony. Three categories of convicts were identified:
- The "Transported" who were sentenced to hard labor (they are the most numerous)
- The deportees who are political prisoners
- The relegated who are repeat offenders
From prison to ruins
Gradually these deportations are challenged and in 1897, the convicts convoys are interrupted. Prony falls into ruins.
In 1953, the Socamifer company buys the village to house its employees until 1968, date of cessation of mining activity. Place is again abandoned.
Today, despite the establishment of an association aimed at the preservation of this heritage, the remains of the prison of Prony are overgrown with dense vegetation. Banyan trees have taken up residence between the ruined walls.
Long considered taboo, this period of prison -symbol of a forced colonization- was emphasized again in the Matignon Agreements in 1988. This is a section of the Caledonian history that can be discovered through a walking tour called "on traces of the prison."
Push also to the Bay of Prony, ideal lookout for humpback whales who visit the bay from July to September to give birth there.