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kokoda track 1
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kokoda track 3
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kokoda track 5
kokoda track 6

popondetta 1
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oro bay 1
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silanga 1
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rabaul 1
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new ireland

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Rabaul as the capital of East New Britain Province is home to the headquarter of PNG's volcano observatories. Herman from Ulamona gave us all contact details for the Rabaul observatory and so we met another Herman. The observatory in Rabaul is much bigger then the one in Ulamona and we got a fantastic tour and learned many things about volcanoes and their dangers. We were also invited to camp on the grounds of the observatory during our stay in Rabaul. Thanks to the two Hermans again!

Herman from the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory and Martin

Rabaul used to be PNG's third biggest city and one of it's most beautiful ones. It's location on the shore of Rabaul harbour, surrounded by volcanoes made it the 'Pearl of the Pacific'. But it all changed in 1994 and Rabaul experienced the downside of being surrounded by volcanoes. Just across the harbour Mt Tavurvur, one of the smaller volcanoes, erupted and covered the city in dust layers meters thick. The weight of the ash and dust made buildings collapse. Fortunately warnings were taken seriously and only a few people lost their life during this massive eruption. Unfortunately Mt. Tavurvur has not stopped erupting since. For more than 15 years it is sending a huge column of dust and volcanic ash in the air where the tropical wind picks it up and moves it straight into Rabaul city. 15 years of having a constant rain of dust and ash takes it's toll and so the whole east part of Rabaul is abandoned, it's airport closed and not even recognisable any more. Thick layers of grey dust cover everything, it's hard to breathe, bulldozers remove the dust from the roads. Many people left and settled in nearby Kokopo. Rabaul today is a mix of a Pompeji like ghost town and a still living city, governed by a volcano.

One night in Rabaul - one layer of dust on the tent

Rabaul and Mt Tavurvur

The Rabaul Volcanological Observatory is located on top of a hill just above the city. This location offers great views over the Rabaul harbour and the city. It also shows how perfectly Mt. Tavurvur and Rabaul city is lined up with the main wind direction to achieve maximal dust coverage for the populated area.

Walking in dust

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(c) 2009    marco hoffmann, martin poppen