As the commercial centre of the New Guinea Islands, Rabaul certainly could be described as having a colourful history.

With the outbreak of World War II in the Pacific Region, the Japanese forces chose to invade Rabaul with the view to make the town its headquarters for its South Pacific Operations.

The remenants of the Japanese occupation are still visible today throughout the region, battered ship wrecks litter the coral reefs, proving a fascinating experience for today’s adventure divers. Hillsides around Rabaul are literally honeycombed with tunnels built by the Japanese. Almost 600kms of these tunnels and caverns exist throughout the Gazelle Peninsula, one such tunnel still houses original barges which were used during the war to land supplies.

Rabaul awakens memorable images of a picturesque town surrounded by volcanoes which are a feature of the East New Britian area.

On the Monday the 19 of September 1994, Tavuvur Volcano erupted billowing millions of tonnes of ash up into the atmosphere falling as a grey mist on Rabaul town; later the same day on the opposite side of the Simpson Harbour another Volcano, Vulcan vented itself upon the town and surrounding villages, what ensued was practically the total devastation of Rabaul town in particular the southern region including many neighbouring villages.The fall was so dense many areas were to be lost, forever buried under up to eight metres of volcanic ash. 30,000 people evacuated the town itself with another 50,000 from the surrounding villages needing to escape from the falling ash.

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