Mijts Blog

A Day at Little Pigeon

by on Jun.11, 2010, under Uncategorized

After 3 weeks in Brisbane, I returned to PNG just two weeks ago. A couple of days later we joined some friends with a boat to go to Little Pigeon Island for a Barbeque. Little Pigeon is a small Island about a one hour boat trip from Rabaul. There are no residents on this Island as there is no fresh water and it is small enough to slowly walk right around in about half an hour.

We drove to Rabaul to get on the boat. Whilst Rabaul is only about 30-40 Km away from Kokopo, the roads are very rough (from volcanic ash) and the trip can sometimes take an hour or more – I once got bogged on this road!

Here is just a little bit about Rabaul – the former capital of East new Britain (now shifted to Kokopo where we live).

Rabaul township is built on the edge of a flooded caldera of a large volcano.
The caldera is the home of a number of dormant and active volcanoes. There is Mt Tavurvur (known as the “baby” – still active), Mt Kombiu (the dormant “mother”) and Vulcan, a minor vent which blew spectacularly in 1994 but is now quiet.
The Tolai people who live near these have a saying ” Tikana pakana takaum kilala na nilaun – una gire ra kaia na vuvuai” – “ Once in your lifetime you will experience a volcanic eruption.” This was proved once again in the early hours of the morning of Sunday, 18 September 1994, as subterranean volcanic activity began violently shaking the Gazelle Peninsula, heralding the coming events.

At 6:00am on Monday, 19 September, Tavurvur volcano commenced destroying Rabaul town and the surrounding villages of Talwat, Nordup, Matalau, Rabuana, Korere, Rapolo and Matupit. This was followed about one hour later on the other side of Simpson Harbour when another volcano, Vulcan (Kalamanagunan), vented itself upon the villages Raluan, Valaur, Tavana, Latlat, Rapolo, Karavia and Malaguna, burying them with Tephra and destroying the property and livelihood of thousands of people. (We drive past Vulcan on our way to rabaul!)
Tavurvur has continued grumbling and spewing smoke, ash and the occasional shower of hot rocks for the past 15 years creating an ash-covered “moonscape” that surrounds the still-active “baby” volcano Mt Tavurvur, which stands less than 100m above sea level.

However, since early this year – for the first time in 15 years, Tavurvur has gone quiet – no ash, just blowing steam. It is great to see a little bit of green coming back on the surrounding hills – although Rabaul town is still a greyscape, houses covered in ash and roads ruined by deep ash deposits! We still regularly get earth tremors and on a windy day ash swirls over Rabaul. Many of the locals believe that this quieter Tavurvur is just a ‘calm before the storm’ and that there will be a big blow in the near future!

We set off from rabaul – I always enjoy a boat trip!

Check out the golf glove tan on the left hand!!!

First we headed out towards the outcrops known as The Beehives.

Next we went across by the vocanos – Mother and Tavurvur – rejoicing in the bit of green coming back on the hills! this may sound a bit over the top – but it is such a change to the usual grey moonscape! Tavurvur is quiet at the moment with just steam coming out the vents so we could clearly see the sulphur deposit on the side up near the crater. We could smell it too!

We then motored on to Little Pigeon and waded ashore with all our needs for the day!

Nick had his dive boots on which give best protection from coral cuts – so he got the job of helping to push the boat out further as the tide was on it’s way out!

This was my first trip to Little Pigeon but Nick has been several times – in between dives on many of his diving days. He suggested we walk around the island – which we did – while the others just relaxed on the beach.

It was well worth the walk as much of the coral comes right up to the shore! I also love the red hermit crabs and the vibrant blue starfish!

The walk just whetted my appetite for some snorkelling. Several of us went out for about an hour.

– now me in snorkel gear, boardies etc is not a good look – but the beautiful coral and fish means I just don’t care!

-and the water is so clear!

The further out you go – the more spectacular it gets! I must admit that Nick goes out much further than I do – and he had the camera for these shots!

After our swim/snorkel we just relaxed on the beach, enjoying the company, the barbequed food (and, of course, the beer and the wine!)

After lunch a couple of us decided to try some kayaking – everyone had a good laugh at me and said that I just went around in circles – I didn’t think I was that bad BUT I had imbibed in a bottle of wine! Needless to say I soon handed the Kayak over to the one young teenage member of the group!

Soon it was time to pack up and head home – Bye! Bye! Little Pigeon – we will be back!

This picture was taken by Nick when we were out snorkelling – what a perfect welcome back to PNG for me – just what I needed! Slept well that night!

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Visit our friends!

A few highly recommended friends...