"In the Mouth of the Volcano" Rabaul by Bwana_Brown

Rabaul Travel Guide: 34 reviews and 125 photos

Rabaul was one of the most scenic spots in Papua New Guinea during my 3-years spent in the country. Located at the eastern tip of New Britain Island, it took about 2-hours by turbo-prop airplane to reach Rabaul from Port Moresby - the Capital city located on the main island of New Guinea.

Located in a large volcanic calendria, blasted out by nature sometime in the 6th century, Rabaul has 'played with fire' ever since it was settled by humans. Although long inhabited by native tribes, Europeans first settled in this part of Papua New Guinea in the 1870s when trading stations were set up to service whalers and other mariners who were in search of supplies. Coconut plantations were also well established by 1884 when this island was made a German protectorate.

The first big brush with disaster came in 1937 when one of the volcanoes located on the rim of the caldera suddenly blew, killing 441 people. Other than a small 'burp' in 1941, things were quiet for decades, including from 1979-82 when I was in the area. Things came alive again on Sept. 19, 1994 when two volcanic cones on either side of the 6-km wide caldera began to erupt. Eventually, the town of Rabaul had to be evacuated and a great deal of damage was done to buildings because of the weight of the ash deposited on them. Please check my 'General' tip for a map of New Britain Island and the location of Rabaul.

This is a harbour scene from one of my visits, showing the 'Mother' and 'South Daughter' volcanos to the left and 'Matupit' to the right.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A beautiful and exotic destination
  • Cons:Expensive, hot and humid
  • Last visit to Rabaul: Oct 1981
  • Intro Updated Oct 9, 2005
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Reviews (14)

Comments (21)

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Mar 11, 2010 at 1:50 PM

    It must have been surreal to be there with little changed in the dense areas form when it was a hard fought battle -and helped keep Australia from further threats. You always do such a great job of detail comments and pictures-like I was there.

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    May 12, 2009 at 4:11 PM

    What an unique page, Glenn. That was fascinating about the Betal Nuts...yuck. My father was in WWII, so I find anything associated quite interesting..the relics and the WWII bomber.

  • Luchonda's Profile Photo
    Mar 9, 2008 at 7:58 AM

    Nice reading about Betty or the Hamaki - greetz from Belgium

  • evaanna's Profile Photo
    Sep 25, 2007 at 12:30 AM

    Fascinating page on this exotic location. And WWII got even that far! Never heard of betal nuts or the monstrous banyan trees before - your great pages always teach me something new.

  • roamer61's Profile Photo
    Jul 30, 2007 at 3:36 PM

    I think my father was here, in 1944. There are pics he took while in the Navy of natives and they appear Melanasian, not Polynesian.

  • traveldave's Profile Photo
    Jul 16, 2007 at 1:37 PM

    I only know about Rabaul from reading about some of the battles during WWII. Nice to read about it from someone who has been there recently and experienced the culture.

  • calcaf38's Profile Photo
    Apr 4, 2007 at 3:26 PM

    Thank you for visiting my Sayaxché page. I have enjoyed your recollections of Rabaul very much. I could imagine being there, waiting for the volcano to erupt so that I can save the lives of orphans, like in a movie.

  • victorwkf's Profile Photo
    Feb 8, 2007 at 1:25 AM

    Hi glenn, great insight into rabaul! Heard about this place while reading up on WW2 pacific war :)

  • tiabunna's Profile Photo
    Apr 10, 2006 at 5:34 PM

    Himi bigpela Banyan long page bilongim yu, Glenn. (Hope I got that right) - good stuff.

  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    Mar 14, 2006 at 3:52 AM

    Interesting stuff Glenn, especially seeing old Japanese war planes and those huge Banyans.

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