Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

A panoramic view of Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, which was built on the edge of a flooded caldera, at a place called Simpsons Harbour and is ringed by volcanoes, including Mt. Tavurvur

A panoramic view of Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, which was built on the edge of a flooded caldera, at a place called Simpsons Harbour and is ringed by volcanoes, including Mt. Tavurvur, now misshapen after it erupted in 1994 and buried half the town under ash

 

Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, was built on the edge of a flooded caldera, at a place called Simpsons Harbour and is ringed by volcanoes.  The town was the capital of the province and widely regarded as the most beautiful town in the South Pacific until it was destroyed in 1994 when Mt. Tavurvur erupted.  The resulting ash inundated the town, with the weight of the ash causing the majority of the buildings to collapse.

 

The region around Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, remains seismically active; here hot springs come to the surface at 100 degrees C (212 degrees F) and flow into Simpsons Harbor; Mt. Tavurvur

The region around Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, remains seismically active; here hot springs come to the surface at 100 degrees C (212 degrees F) and flow into Simpsons Harbor; Mt. Tavurvur is in the background on the right

 

A close up of the hot springs, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

A close up of the hot springs, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

 

Rabaul has extensive World War II history, as it was the main Japanese headquarters in the South Pacific.  As a tourist destination, Rabaul is popular for SCUBA diving and for snorkeling sites and also offers a spectacular harbor. Because of its war-time history, it attracts many Japanese visitors.

 

During World War II Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, was seized by the Japanese and used as their headquarters; this is the two room underground bunker used as the working bunker office of the

During World War II Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, was seized by the Japanese and used as their headquarters; this is the two room underground bunker used as the working bunker office of the Admiral of the Pacific, Isoroku Yamamoto, the architect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, who on 18 April 1943 was killed by a U.S. P-38 Lightning over south Bougainville after taking off from Rabaul on an inspection tour

 

“Rabaul (the word means Mangrove in one of the local languages as it was built on a mangrove swamp) was the headquarters of German New Guinea until captured by Commonwealth troops during World War I.  The Australian administration was moved to Lae in 1937 after an eruption that caused over 500 deaths.  In January 1942, it was heavily bombed; on January 23 thousands of Japanese troops were landed.  By 1943 there were about 110,000 Japanese troops based in Rabaul and around 2,000 local women were forced into prostitution.  The Japanese army dug many kilometers of tunnels as shelter from the Allied air forces and many of these can still be seen today.

 

All of the region_s seismic activity is monitored an displayed on computer monitors at the Rabaul Seismic Observatory on a hill in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, overlooking Simpsons Harbou

All of the region’s seismic activity is monitored an displayed on computer monitors at the Rabaul Seismic Observatory on a hill in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, overlooking Simpsons Harbour and Mt. Tavurvur and Mt. Vulcan

 

“On 19 September 1994, Tavurvur and Vulcan volcanoes erupted, destroying the nearby airport and covering most of the town with heavy ash.  Fortunately the city’s inhabitants evacuated before the eruption and only a handful of people were killed.  Most of the buildings in the southeastern half of Rabaul collapsed due to the weight of ash.” – http://www.wikitravel.org

 

Mt. Vulcan and Mt. Tavurvur, photographed from the grounds of the Rabaul Seismic Observatory, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

Mt. Vulcan and Mt. Tavurvur, photographed from the grounds of the Rabaul Seismic Observatory, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

 

Rabaul is the home of the Tolai people, but the surrounding high mountains are the domain of the Baining people.  In the evening we were driven up the mountain (about 45 minutes on unpaved roads) to have a rare opportunity to witness the Baining’s tribe fire dance [see our next blog post].

 

We visited a cooperative factory (owned by 3 local plantations) that presses and processes and packages organic coconut oil, now available in export markets such as the United States, Ra

We visited a cooperative factory (owned by 3 local plantations) that presses and processes and packages organic coconut oil, now available in export markets such as the United States, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea; the equipment wasn’t photographed as it was hard to understand what was what…

 

3 thoughts on “Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

  1. Interesting about Papua New Guinea as my dad and 2 uncles were in combat there during WW 2. My dad was shipped back early but my 2 uncles were captured and spend a few years in Changi Japanese prison camp and barely survived. Those 2 uncles worked under harsh conditions on the famous “Burma railway”. When we were on our way to India/Nepal/Tibet a few years ago we had layover in Singapore and went to the Changi prisoner of war museum (not far from the airport) because of that family history and that was interesting. The camp itself is now a jail but the museum is right next door. I was given my second name after one uncle who was a prisoner when I was born and family did not know if he was alive – he was just a kid of about 18 when captured but he ended up having a good life and lived well into his 80s. The other uncle went blind in one eye from malnutrition while a prisoner and fell later and died quite young. I’ll show you their photo one day in uniform. Jill

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very interesting history. I wonder if the locals use the hot springs to cook. I learned that it’s done in New Zealand. Thanks for all your great posts.

    Liked by 1 person

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