Military History Tours On Tour - ANMEF (Rabaul - New Guinea) 2014 - 10 September 2014
At 0630 we had a buffet breakfast. After checking out of the hotel, our bags were taken to the airport for a group check in.
We left the hotel at 0800 in the mini bus with Jack driving. On the way, at a supermarket Graeme and John went inside to buy bottled water for the group. There were two security men for each row in the parking lot. Each supermarket entrance door had two security men. Beside the shelf stockers, there were security men in the aisles. Each check out operator had at least one security man directly watching. Bottled water can be carried on domestic flights in PNG. After driving through the thickening Port Moresby traffic we reached the CWGC Bomana Cemetery.
The cemetery is well maintained. There is a man on duty at the entrance gate. There was a security man with a big dog patrolling the site as well as the CWGC ground staff maintaining the lawns and gardens. John found the grave of his father's cousin, Gware Hitchen, of 2/7 Cavalry Regiment. After general visit to the site, we had a small ceremony at the Cross of Sacrifice.
We left the cemetery at 0930 and it took until 1115 to drive to the airport. The time and space was unanticipated. Port Moresby traffic jams are horrendous. In Port Moresby people mainly travel in mini buses, the trays of utilities and on the trays of trucks. There were two lanes heading towards the airport going no where. Hawkers were walking along the road selling individual cigarettes, betel nuts, cans of soft drinks, newspapers and plastic bags of white powder. The white powder is a crude grade of lime that chewed with the betel nut. Red betel nut stains covered the road surface and edges.
After arriving at the airport, we received our boarding passes and a bunch of baggage claim tags. We passed through security and in the departure lounge we ate our lunches that had been provided in lunch boxes. Our flight took off at 1235.
After a pleasant flight the plane started to descend to land. A good view out of the left hand side of the plane of the still steaming Matupi Volcano could be seen. After collecting our luggage, security checked that each passenger’s luggage matched with the claim tags. The mini bus was waiting for us and took us to the Kokopo Beach Bungalow Resort at 1 Kurur Street, Kokopo. At Kokopo Valerie was the contact at the Resort. We caught up with our final tour member who had been in Rabaul for a week already. The group of ten was now complete.
After checking into the hotel, at 1600 we headed off to Rabaul. The Kokopo-Rabaul ‘road’ varies from bitumen, dirt, pot holes and pools of water. The trip took 50 minutes mainly due to a pair of slow vans in front of us. We walked around the memorial site and occupied our seats. We attended the dusk service for the Montevideo Maru. The catafalque party was provided by the local corrective services staff equipped with Armalites. The service started at 1700 and went for 1.5 hours. A local school and church provided the choir. The trip back to Kokopo took 40 minutes. The volcano was still smoking. We had dinner at 1930 and may be a beer before we headed off to bed as we had an early start next morning. The standard beer, South Pacific Brown, was K9.00 at Kokopo Beach Bungalow Resort.