Walking the forlorn streets of Rabaul is like stepping into an apocalyptic film. On 19 September 1994 Mt Tavurvur, which looms ominously to the southeast, erupted, spewing huge amounts of ash over Rabaul and the Simpson Harbour and Karavia Bay area. It buried much of this once lovely city in a desert-like landscape of black and brown ash. It’s still active; you can see it belch huge plumes of smoke into the sky.
Rabaul is not completely dead, though. There’s a bit of life still clinging to the market and nearby streets. East of here, Rabaul is still mostly abandoned, bar one hotel that survived the Tavurvur eruption. Thanks to the deep water (and Kokopo’s shallow water), Rabaul’s port facilities keep the town alive.
It’s definitely worth staying a day or two in Rabaul to soak up the surreal atmosphere and explore the nearby sights.