The town and port of Rabaul lies in Simpson Harbour, on the northern end of the island of New Britain. Mounts Vulcan and Tavurvur loom above the port. Deep ravines carved into its slopes by post-eruption floods created by the still considerably active Mount Tavurvur, the source of the town's destruction in September 1994. The scenery surrounding Rabaul is lush as you will see when you take the drive up Tunnel Hill past the Volcano Observatory to the north coast road leading to Kerevat. Cocoa, balsa wood and coconut plantations abound, and the rainforest is thick and green.
The volcanoes are not the sole source of fascination in Rabaul. As the place where the Japanese invaded Papua New Guinea in January 1942, it abounds in fascinating World War Two history. Cave systems honeycomb the hills, created for use as hospitals and storage areas. At Karavia Barge tunnel there are five Japanese landing barges still hidden within the hillside and torpedoes and other equipment lie dormant within the bush. There is an excellent war museum at Kokopo, a huge white memorial to Japanese soldiers, and of course your historical tour is not complete without a peaceful and thoughtful visit to the Bitapaka War Cemetery, to honour the many hundreds who gave their lives in the course of duty.
In 1878 the Rev George Brown arrived in Rabaul to establish Methodism, and as a result each village boasts a quaint and well maintained church of its own. At Ralum you can view a set of white steps which lead down to a vista of lawn that sweeps to the sea. These steps are all that remain of the once fabulous homestead belonging to Emma Forsyth, or 'Queen Emma', as she was called. This famous American-Samoan founder of the Trading and Plantation Company also arrived in 1878, bought land and built a large home at Gunantambu, and built an empire.
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