Friday, September 7, 2007

Oasis in the Ash

Dug out of the ash after the 1994 eruption, Mango Avenue was the main street of Rabaul and once a beautiful tree-lined boulevard set out by the German colonialists.

Now, when the wind blows down the empty ghost-town street, it is filled with choking ash.

If you swung around to the left you would be in front of the Rabaul (Hamamas) Hotel. Owned by Bruce and Susie it is an oasis in the ash, a place a wonderful hospitality and with a Chinese restaurant that we drive from Kokopo to eat at!!!!


quintarantino said...

Inspite being of the ghost town I like the first photo.
As for the hotel, when I visit PNG I'll stay there!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jules, I beat you on line this am, got up early to go to the gym at the Naval and Military Club in town. Probably the same distance you travel to eat at the Hammamas. Do I know Bruce and Susie? They say they are third gen Rabaul residents so it puts them in the ballpark. Do ask for me please.
Your posts have caused a lot of reflection. I think I'm at that stage of life. I feel compelled to reconstruct the memories of my youth. I'm finishing Gordon and my memoirs and will start on mine. I don't want our sons to regret not paying attention to my stories after I'm gone. My tilt at immortality.
Oh God there's nothing there of that beautiful street. The perspective must be from about the Namanula St end of town looking towards Matupit Farm as "New" Chinatown was called. I cried on the day of the 93 eruption to think that my house, my school, my old life was no more., tears much like my mum cried every time she thought of Shanghai. But thank you for those pictures. You have no idea how precuious they have become so quickly. Yes, coffee/lunch/visit would be a v v good idea in 08. Enjoy your leave, even a tropical paradise can become boring as I well remember.
Oh the enui of it all! How I longed for a new experience, too much lotus eating does allow an enervating apathy to descend often. I used to long for the school holidays and the boarders to come home just so there would be new faces to see and talk to. I bet you're looking forward to seeing your kids! I hated boaeding school so I tantrumed till they brought me back. I finished matric at good old Rabaul High doing correspondence from Sydney. Interesting experience.
I look forward to your visit to Rabaul this weekend. Isn't the internet superb. Instant communication ie when the Tambarans and puri puri don't stuff up the phone lines that is. We've onlt had ADSL for a couple of years and we're supposedly in a developed country. Do you still read 2 day old Southern Dailys? I can still get a kick out of reading old newspapers!
Recipe for kumung and coconut cream: Fry little bit of garlic in Tsp oil.
Add lge bunch Kumung. stir fry till wilted.
Add cup first-squeezed coconut cream. Heat through.
Serve with steamed rice
I miss kaukau chips. the bright orange ones are best and no where down South have I been able to find just that variety. Seems they are only found on the Gazelle. They are almost red in colour and are sublime to eat, not too floury/not too wet. Worth seeking out as are a fruit called colloquially Dragon's Eyes. They are covered on a dk brown fibrous material and inside have a translucent sweet flesh around a lge seed, similar to the Asian loquat. Have you eaten laulaus yet? Rabaul bung benefitted from the Rabaul Botanical Gardens which was famous world wide for its collection of tropical and Sth East Asian fruit trees. Maybe someone can take you walking up into the caldera wall just behind the liklik wharf. I recall steps tall exotic trees and the old reservoir all intact and that was in the late 60's. They survived the '43 eruption and blanket bombing in WW2. They built them to last in those days. Maybe the Hamamas people can find you a guide?
Anyhow I've been rabbiting on. Is ther some way you can think of to send you my email address. I'm loathe to publish it on this forum for the world to see.
Lookim yu behin Pia
PS thanks for the forum have registered, G is going to think I've gone longlong.

CaBaCuRl said...

Was the hotel buried in the ash too? Thanks to Pia also, fascinating to read your memories of the city before it was buried.

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting post. The memories it bring back to pia are fantastic. He or she mentioned, Gordon. Since I was born in a village by that name I don't suppose there is any connection. Gordon, Ohio.

Neva said...

about that pesky volcano....way to much excitement where you are!! I would have a hard time sleeping at night!

Jules said...

Quinto - Hi - you will have fun especially if you like a little adventure!!!

Hi Pia
Yes the photo was taken from out side Rabaul Hotel looking back down to Matapit. I imagine how shocking it must be to see the place like this. The only buildings left in the street are the Kaivuna Hotel further down the end, the Rabaul Club (back off the road) and the Travel Lodge – everything else has been leveled. Did you see the photos I took of the Court House holding cells in my July photos??
The owners of the hotel are the daughter and son-in-law of the O'Grady's. Susie is 10 years younger than me.
So pleased my photos are stirring the memories; I can download them onto a disk and bring them with me when I come – that way you can have good quality photos of your own!!!!
Laulaus are to die for and a Chinese lady brings some to me when they are in season. Not sure about the Dragon Eyes – I will ask around.
I too adore kaukau chips and make them for the girls when they are home. Pity I can’t bring you some!!! Thanks for the recipe – kumu in coconut milk is yummy, My younger daughter in particular loves it. Both my girls speak fluent pidgin and really put me to shame. They love translating Australian jokes into pidgin and entertaining their friends and cousins. Even though they don’t get it – it sounds so funny they all laugh and ask to be told them again and again!!!
Lukim yu wantok!!!

Cabacurl - The owners of the hotel stayed and kept the ash off the roof so the buildings didn't collapse - then they dug everything out of the ash. A monumental job and one that was photographed and is now on display in the hotel.

Jules said...

Pia - Susie's maiden name is McGrady not O'Grady

dive said...

I keep forgetting you have volcanos to cope with, Jules.
How often do you have any local eruptions?

Fabrizio Zanelli said...

I really love the photo and I found it suggestive.

@ Pia: be careful not to confuse Irish with Scottish family names ;-)

david mcmahon said...

G'day Jules,

I'm fascinated by the information you give us. If you had posted this on Wednesday, you could have called it Ash Wednesday ...

Keep smiling


Chuckeroon said...

Sobering thoughts and an interesting angle on "disaster recovery".

M.Benaut said...

Sounds like a mammouth task, digging it out. Their hearts and souls obviously live in the land.

dr. filomena said...

Very interesting! Looking forward for further posts... perhaps one with pics of the Chinese dishes? :-)

M.Benaut said...

Tomorrow we're heading to Kangaroo Island for 2 days. Any requests?
My next post will be posted late - and the only ash will be man-made. I hate missing your posts, so I'll make up for it on Monday.

Marie said...

I had not understood there was a volcano on your island. The hotel is beautiful. I like the colors they use for their houses.

Jules said...

m benaut - have a great time on Kangaroo Is - I will miss your friendly face and your photos & weird comments. Your sense of humour is truly Aussi mate.

dive - We have 1 active volcano a couple of dormant ones and a few extinct. The active one, Tavurvur is erupting at the moment but is not causing a problem except there is a lot of ash all over the place on the wind-ward side.

Marie - Go back to my July posts and have a look there for volcano photos There is also a photo of the volcano erupting big time last year in October on my Rabaul Extra Photos Blog.

Sally Pasop said...

Hi Pia and Jules,
I have just had this blog site emailed to me and it is fascinating, particularly as I am a 'local' Kokopo girl.
First of all, Susie's name was McGrade, not McGrady. She is the youngest of 3 sisters who were all good friends of mine when we were growing up in Rabaul/Kokopo in the 60's/70's.
My childhood home was quite close to Gelagela which I see you've already mentioned in one of your posts. There were 3 generations of my immediate family living in and around Kokopo at the same time.
I have been living in Brisbane since finishing boarding school and my parents have been here for the past ?20 years.
Though I am very happy in my life now and have no desire to return to Kokopo, your photos are responsible for the return of some feelings of home-sickness.
My husband is also local to Kokopo. He grew up on Watta.