East New Britain Provincial (ENBP) covers 15,500 square kilometers of the island of New Britain and 46 smaller islands. The mainland includes the fertile and densely populated Gazelle Peninsula, the Baining mountains and the eastern section of the Nakanai mountains. There are a number of active volcanoes.
The population increased from 133,200 in 1980 to 184,400 in 1990. Fifteen languages are spoken. The provincial Constitution, which was adopted in 1977, provides for a House of Assembly of 22 elected members, and two members appointed by the national government. The province is divided into three districts with headquarters at Rabaul. Kokopo and Pomio are the other main towns. The Gazelle Peninsula is PNG’s most important copra producer and also exports cocoa and timber. Rabaul has a good natural harbor and products are transported mainly by ship.
Although there is evidence of human occupation 13,000 years BP, the dominant ethnic group, the Tolai, are thought to have begun migrating into the Gazelle Peninsula from New Ireland in relatively recent times. Between 1884 and 1914, the Germans alienated much of the most fertile land to establish copra plantations. After World War II these plantations passed into Australian hands. Methodist and Roman Catholic missions were established in the 19th century and Seventh-Day Adventist missions in the 1930s. ENBP was under Australian control from 1914 to 1975 except for a period of Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1945. After World War II there was increasing unrest over land, and over Administration insistence on establishing multi-ethnic local government councils in the Gazelle Peninsula. The villagers were Tolai, but many of the plantation laborers came from other parts of PNG. In August 1971 the District Commissioner, E.J. Emanuel, was killed while intervening in a land dispute. In the early 1970s, the Mataungan Association led a separatist movement. The Tolai are now prominent in business and the professions throughout PNG and the separatist demands have lapsed in recent years.
Things to see
Kokopo: After the eruption of Tavurvur and Vulcan in September 1994, most Rabaul services have been relocated to Kokopo, along the edge of Blanche Bay. The town has grown rapidly and the busy market is located on the main road from Tokua Airport. The waterfront is the place to find boats for travel to the outer islands or for a spot of fishing.
East New Britain Historical & Cultural Centre: Located across the road from the golf course, this has good displays and collections of historical relics and photographs. Open 8am-1pm and 2pm-4pm week days; 1pm-5pm weekends. Small admission fee.
Vunapope Catholic Mission: Pleasant views and old colonial buildings in the hospital grounds are interesting. The mission is located at the eastern end of Kokopo. St. Mary’s Hospital at Vunapope is the largest private hospital.
Bitapaka War Cemetery: The graves of over 1000 allied brave soldiers are in these grounds and gardens. Turn off the coast road past Vunapope.
Malmaluan Lookout: Fantastic views over the volcanoes surrounding Simpson Harbour can be enjoyed from this inland highpoint. Take Burma Road, off the Kokopo-Rabaul Road.
Japanese Barge Tunnels: At Karavia Bay between Raluana Point and Vulcan are a network of tunnels and tracks connecting barges and buildings dating back to the war. In the main tunnel, there are five barges lined up end to end. Take a torch.
Rabaul: Some parts of Rabaul still function but most of it remains an eerie desolate wasteland covered by ash. Simpson Harbour is still the main port, guarded by the grumbling volcanoes. A market and a few shops still operate at the eastern end of town.
Tunnels and war relics: Some of the 580km of tunnels built by the Japanese are still open. Aircraft wreckage is found beyond the old airport.
Duke of York Islands: These thirteen beautiful islands are easily visited. Some have accommodation and swimming, snorkelling and canoeing are good.
Things to do
Diving and snorkelling: In Simpson Harbour there are World War II boat and plane wrecks, good walls, and the Beehives (a small group of craggy islands) to explore. At Tavui Point is Submarine Base where Japanese subs pulled right up to the edge of the reef. It’s superb for snorkelling on the flat coral beds. Most resorts can arrange dive trips.
Climb a volcano: New Britain is dominated by volcanoes, some still bellowing great clouds of black ash-laden smoke. All the volcanoes, except Tavurvur, can be climbed, but heavy rain can make the ground slippery. Vulcan is best tackled on the northern side. Take plenty of water.
Canoeing: Taklam Tours in Kokopo can arrange paddling experiences around the Duke of York Islands.
Fishing: Sport fishing for blue and black marlin, sail fish and dog-tooth tuna is good in the waters around New Britain and the Duke of York Islands. Baia Sports Fishing has a lodge at Open Bay. The Blanche Bay area is good for casual line casting. Boats operate from Rabaul and hotels and guesthouses can organise trips.
Swimming: Beaches near Kokopo are good and there are good beaches at Pila Pila and Ratung villages in Talili Bay north of Rabaul.
Trekking: Suggested areas are the Bainings Mountains, the Pomio area, where you can walk from Pomio to Navu, and the Wide Bay area, walking between Milim and Sampun or Tokua and Merai. Contact Ecotourism Melanesia, Ph: +675 323 4518, www.em.com.pg
FYI: PNG’s 4 Regions & 22 Provinces
|Highlands||Eastern Highlands Province||Goroka|
|Western Highlands Province||Mt. Hagen|
|Southern Highlands Province||Mendi|
|Southern||National Capital District||Port Moresby|
|Central Province||Port Moresby|
|Oro (Northern) Province||Popondetta|
|Milne Bay Province||Alotau|
|East Sepik Province||Wewak|
|Sandaun (West Sepik) Province||Vanimo|
|New Guinea Islands||Manus Province||Lorengau|
|New Ireland Province||Kavieng|
|East New Britain Province||Kokopo|
|West New Britain Province||Kimbe|
|Autonomous Region of Bougainville||Buka|