Peles Rabaul Rabaul is located in the Gazelle Peninsula, and the north eastern aspect of the island of New Britain. Rabaul harbour is one of the most beautiful harbours in the world. The area is historically important, environmentally diverse, and culturally rich. Rabaul’s natural deep harbour is conducive to receiving large ships, and attracting knowledgeable tourists allied to the regions history, natural environment, water sports, and cultural links.
Rabaul is the provincial capital in East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea (PNG). It was prior to 1937, the administrative headquarters of German New Guinea and later the United Nations mandated Australian territory of New Guinea. During World War II, Rabaul was a major air and naval base for the Japanese. Following the Japanese surrender in World War II, Rabaul developed into a major economic centre of Papua New Guinea. The later half of the 20th century saw Rabaul as a modern town under Australian administration and since 1976 administered within the independent State of PNG.
The town is situated within a volcanic caldera formed from major eruptions some 1400, and 3500 years ago. Its beauty hides the fact that the town is located on the edge of tectonic plates and is surrounded by active and dormant volcanoes. The eruption in 1878 resulted in the formation of a new volcano called Vulcan. Recent volcanic eruptions occurred in 1937 and more recently in 1994. The 1994 re-eruptions of Tavurvur and Vulcan resulted in the destruction of much of the town infrastructure that dated back to German times. Much of the buildings in the eastern part of the town were damaged from falling ash and mud, and mud slides. Tavurvur continues its intermittent activity to this day. The high level of particulate matter in the air continues to contribute to high rates of respiratory disease in the community.
It was decided to finally move the administrative centre of Rabaul 20km to the surrounding town of Kokopo. The airport is now situated near Kokopo at Tokua. Rabaul habour is naturally situated to continue to receive larger shipping liners. The economy operates on cash and subsidence farming. Copra and cocoa production are the main agricultural exports.
The main group of indigenous inhabitants of Rabaul are the tolai people. Other groups come from the surrounding areas of Baining, Sulka, Taulil and Pomio.
The German administration made a large contribution to the civil development of the town. One famous German individual was Queen Emma, who was a well known in the South Pacific. Her large coconut plantations and headquarters were situated at Kokopo.
The growth of the town continued under the Australian administration. This period saw ongoing investment by Australia into the Territory. The ongoing development of the economy, health, and education systems have enabled the population to thrive during post war times. Australia continues to contribute much aid following PNG independence to this day.
Through out its recent history, Rabaul has seen migration from other indigenous groups within PNG, and migration from other cultures such as the Germans, Chinese, Malay and Australians. Historically, the cultural diversity has contributed to a thriving and successful East New Britain Province.
Despite the challenges presented to Papua New Guinea post-independence, the East New Britain province continues to be one of the successful provinces geographically, economically and culturally.