While the East coast has its Hen and its Sphinx, the West coast has its “Bonhomme” (Gentleman) rock formation at the far end of the Roche Percée beach in Bourail. People from Bourail, like all Caledonians, are hoping that sea will continue to spare their legendary “Bonhomme” for many years to come.
This huge monolith of hard quartz rock, sculpted by the waves, and tilted on its pedestal, is so called because of its resemblance to the head of a man, viewed in profile and topped with a hat.
One must hope that this truly “national” symbol will not suffer the same sad fate as its neighbour, La Roche Percée (The Pierced Rock), so called because of a hole at the bottom of the cliff facing the “Bonhomme”. In August 2006, the hole partially caved in, and then a second landslide in March 2007 completely destroyed it.
Legendary placeVoir plus
The Roche Percée tunnel gives access to Turtle Bay
Despite all, in the eyes of the tourists, the name of La Roche Percée maintains all its relevance because a tunnel connecting it to Turtle Bay still exists and remains accessible. For the tribal populations of the region, the Orôê and the Neku, this place retains a very special cultural resonance. It is here that the dead join the “kingdom” of the dead, after being delivered to the entrance of an underground cavern. A guardian greets them and checks whether their earlobes have been pierced. Local legend has it that all access to the resting-place of the dead is from the sea. Still today, some of the senior residents (a very sensitive term in New Caledonia) claim they can hear the sound of the dead throwing themselves into the waves to reach the “paradise” of the dead.
The only surfers’ beach in New Caledonia!
As to the beach adjoining the Bonhomme, it is also well-known in New Caledonia, as it is the only surfing location in the region. In winter, the waves coming in from the Antarctic can rise here to a height of 2.5 metres! All the surfers in the region then gather at the Roche Percée beach. This beach, like its twin in Turtle Bay, is also an important big-headed turtle breeding ground.
At the Nera Estuary...
At the eastern end of the site, the Nera River Estuary, with its magnificent delta, appearing like a manta ray when viewed from the air, extends from the village to the beach. On the promontory, also known as La Roche”, there is the short Cycas Forest trail that meanders through a magnificent dry forest which is also home to a dense and shady mangrove tree. Botanical signposting enables the visitor to identify the various species of vegetation there…