top of page

Rabaul Mask Festival
            and Bainings Fire Dance             
with other New Guinea Island Experiences

Rabaul Mask Festival & Fire Dance - Duke of York Islands

6 Days / 5 Nights Tour
AUD4,600 p.p Twin Share

Single Supplement AUD590

Tuesday 9th to Sunday 14th July 2024

The New Guinea Island of New Britain offers a wonderland of cultural expression and historical intrigue set against the most dramatic of natural landscapes.  Attend the East New Britain Mask Festival where ancient animist beliefs are celebrated in enthralling performances of music and dance. Relax on the idyllic Duke of York Islands where the seas abound with wild dolphins, dugongs and stunning scenery.  Climb Mount Tavurvur, the active stratovolcano, that steams menacingly above the lunar like landscape of Rabaul Township. Learn about the key roles these islands played during the 2 world wars and the colonial characters that shaped its status as a hub of economic advancement. Add tours of Bougainville, New Ireland or Kimbe Bay in West New Britain to your itinerary for a complete adventure of the New Guinea Islands.  The Islanders are friendly, fun loving people with big smiles !  

INCLUSIONS : Tour Package includes All Meals, Accommodation, Guides, Sightseeing, Entry Fees to all activities, Porterage, Transfers, Land & water Transport & Experienced Australian Tour Leader and 2 Domestic Air Flights. 

BOUGAINVILLE is one of the most naturally beautiful islands in the South Pacific. It's future and desire to become an independent country is one of the most anticipated developments in the region. Soak up the political intrigue along with the jungle fringed beaches and waterfall draped mountains. Unique customs displayed for the curious.

NEW IRELAND is renowned internationally for its unique Malagan carvings and traditional culture. Divers know the area for its variety including numerous wrecks. Surf breaks abound with uncrowded waves. The fish are plentiful and the entire length of the island is easily accessed by a sealed road that runs for it's entire length.

Kimbe Bay in WEST NEW BRITAIN is fringed by a number of active volcanic mountains. Dive magnificent volcanic caves draped in staghorn coral and reef drop-offs from the dive centre at Walindi Plantation Resort. If you’re keen to keep your head above water, the fishing, trekking, and hot springs are excellent diversions in this area, meaning non-divers can also enjoy the superb natural surroundings.

231.JPG
TPA_408_edited.jpg
Great Barrier Reef 03.jpg
MW 2  Martin_Pepper_Nicobar_pidgeon260x1
Extend your holiday with more days spent on any combination of these New Guinea Island destinations.

Flynns Tours is the only Tour operator serving PNG that includes the cost of all domestic airfares in your Package. 

 * For this tour a price cap of AUD700 included in the total package price should cover the cost of the 2 Domestic Flights. Following consultation any excess to this price cap will be billed to the client.Papua New Guinea is a developing country with a mountainous mainland surrounded by many remote islands. The regional centres are for the most part un-connected by road. Travellers normally book with only 2 nationally owned airlines that provide the only reliable air service. Airfares are expensive and without experience they are difficult for outsiders, even travel agents to book without the risking the smooth running of  this Small Group Tour of PNG. Flynn's Tours experienced staff remove the risk and with all tour participants booked in a group booking we can provide the lowest prices possible and manage your bookings for you and allow you to enjoy your holiday without frustration and disappointment ! 

PNG PSP Day 7 Tumbuan on Beach_edited_edited.jpg
MW 7   Duk Duk Mask Festival.JPG
A2      TPA_256.jpg
Tambu Shell Money ENB.jpg
231.JPG
Climbing Mt Tavurur volcano  in Rabaul.j
TPA Rab Tourists Sim Har Crop 748_DK_edited.jpg
P8290752_edited.jpg
Pang Pang from Air FB_IMG_1671361401202_edited.jpg
Laraibina Eels New Ireland Pic 2_edited.jpg
Port Moresby Nature Pk red parrots pair.
New Island Shark Caller in Canoe_edited.jpg
Shark Callers Woman dancing singing.jfif

Day By Day Presentation:

Day 1 - Kokopo - East New Britain 

International flights arriving from Brisbane in Port Moresby will enable you to fly from Port Moresby to Rabaual/Tokua in East New Britain on the same day. Arrive at Tokua Airport, your gateway to East New Britain and check-in to our resort accommodation in Kokopo on the Gazelle Peninsula. You will observe cocoa, copra and palm oil cultivation undertaken in the rich volcanic soil, noting the area’s significant contribution to the national economy. Kokopo, named Herbertshohe in the earliest colonial period, was from 1884 to 1910 the capital of the German New Guinea colonial empire. You will visit the historic German cemetery, the cathedral at Vunapope Catholic mission and the Kokopo Lookout. View the beachside landing site at Kabakaul from where Australian military forces advanced in 1914 to capture the German wireless station at Bita Paka. This battle was Australia’s first major military engagement of the First World War. Bita Paka War Cemetary is now the resting place of over one thousand Australian and Allied soldiers who met their fate during World War 2, when “Fortress Rabaul” became the South Pacific headquarters and staging post for the Japanese Imperial Forces. It was occupied by 100,000 Japanese soldiers. Your tour will include a visit to the Kokopo market, one of the biggest in Papua New Guinea. Relax beachside or poolside at your resort accommodation.

Rapopo Plantation Resort – Kokopo or similar
Day 2 - Kokopo - East New Britain

Gather at dawn on the Kokopo foreshore for the Kinavai, which signifies the landing of the Tolai people in East New Britain several hundred years ago and marks the official opening of the Mask Festival. The Kinavai represented with the arrival of the Tumbuan in their traditional masks, alighting from canoes paddled in the pre-dawn darkness from the neighbouring Matupit island. Dancing to the primal sounds of chanting and kundu drums, the revered ancestral spirits arise to welcome dancers wearing traditional masks from all over Papua New Guinea. Return to the hotel in Kokopo to refresh and then travel a short distance to the festival grounds for the opening day of the Mask Festival. Among many highlights, the standouts include the Kusare warriors from Kandrian on the South coast of New Britain’s western province and the immediately recognisable Malagan Mask Dancers from New Ireland.  From closer to home, the tall Tubuans from the Pomio district, the Tolai whip dancers along with neighbouring New Ireland’s renowned Malagan mask men all add to the colour and movement. Return to your accommodation for a refreshing swim and dinner..

Rapopo Plantation Resort – Kokopo or similar
Day 3 - Kokopo - East New Britain 

Before the second day of the Rabaul Mask Festival kicks off we will visit the Agmark cocoa fermentary where the method of processing cocoa for export to the world’s chocolate makers is explained by the fermentary management. We return to the festival grounds this morning to  continue to enjoy a VIP viewing of the days cultural performances. During the day we can take a quiet break from the festival and visit the Kokopo Museum which is located near the Festival grounds. The Museum houses an impressive range of war relics along with an informative display of colonial, military and natural history. We enjoy a hearty Asian style lunch at the Ralum Country Club enjoying stunning ocean views over Blanche Bay. The bay is named after HMS Blanche, which surveyed the bay under the command of Captain Cortland Simpson in 1872. Standing on “Emma’s Steps” we hear stories about the achievements and exploits of Queen Emma Coe. She was a Polynesian Princess and daughter of an American sailor and Samoan mother who in the late 19th century brought commerce to East New Britain, through her savvy business sense and huge land holdings, upon which she grew an abundance of copra and cocoa. The steps are 140 years old, built in 1882 to grace Queen Emma’s famous bungalow Gunantambu. They were climbed by Governors, Ambassadors and Officers representing German Kaiser, American President and kings of England, France and other European nations along with assorted bishops and world-renowned scientists, explorers, anthropologists and adventurers. Gunantambu gatherings were famous throughout the South Seas. Returning to the festival grounds after lunch, you will continue to enjoy a VIP viewing of the days performances. Return to your accommodation for a refreshing swim and dinner.

After dinner, you will be transferred to Gaulim Village in the Bainings area. This evenings spectacular Bainings Fire Dance is performed only by men from the Bainings clans, where they immerse themselves into the flames of the fire and escape completely unharmed. This amazing ritual is not performed anywhere else in the world. One of few cultures in Papua New Guinea who do not use the Kundu drum as their rhythmic percussion instruments, the Bainings clan instead use bamboo, and the sound is just as unique as the fire dance itself. After the performance, return back to your hotel.

Rapopo Plantation Resort – Kokopo or similar
Day 4 – Duke of York Islands 

This morning we travel to Simpsons Harbour to enjoy spectacular views on an early morning climb of the active volcano, Mt Tavurvur. While the climb is challenging, it’s not beyond most people’s capability to reach the top. Flynn’s Tours has had an octogenarian comfortably complete the ascent. You can take in further views of Rabaul’s picturesque harbour and its six volcanoes from the Vulcanological Observatory on Tunnel Hill. An informative talk delivered by an onsite vulcanologist will enlighten you of the workings of volcanoes, lava, magma and related geological, geophysical and geochemical phenomena. The Rabaul caldera was created about 1400 years ago with an explosion which erupted 11 cubic kilometres of rock. This massive outpouring of gas, lava, rocks and ash produced the largest volcanic dry fog in recorded history. A mysterious cloud that blocked sunlight for 12 to 18 months over Europe, China and the Middle East in 536 AD is linked to this mighty eruption. You will tour the area of current volcano activity and clamber around Mount Tavurvur. See the hot springs, sulphurous steam points and the megapode egg hunters who burrow metres into the black sand emerging with the prized eggs. Megapodes do not incubate their eggs with their body heat as other birds do, but bury them. Their eggs are unique in having a large yolk, making up 50-70% of the egg weight. The birds here are burrow-nesters which use geothermal heat. Some species vary their incubation strategy, such as building mounds to bury them in, depending on the local environment. We travel around the remains of old Rabaul town (including its airport) which resembles a lunar landscape, following its burial in volcanic ash during the dramatic eruptions of 1994. Prior to the burial of Rabaul town it was revered as “the Pearl of the South Pacific”. East New Britain’s commercial hub has been re-established in a modernised Kokopo over the past 30 years. Rabaul was also badly damaged during an earlier eruption on 6 June 1937, five years before the occupation by Japanese military. We visit Matupit Island whose people and settlement survived the worst of the 1994 volcanic eruption despite their location immediately beneath it. Visit old Rabaul Township and see the resulting destruction caused by the 1994 volcanic explosions. Discover the pre-European settlement history and recent colonial occupations by German, Japanese and Australian administrations at the New Guinea Club and Rabaul Historical Display. Explore the Japanese military command bunker of Admiral Yamamoto where maps of the surrounding area are etched into the bunkers ceiling at head height. We travel back through Rabaul where we will visit the underground Japanese Hospital tunnels dating from World War Two and the tranquil memorial gardens at the Chinese cemetery where your tour leader, John Gannan, will explain aspects of the historically long association the Chinese have had with East New Britain, along with the many other people and cultures that have shaped this part of New Britain Island. We climb around the large barges of the Japanese Imperial forces that are still housed in even larger tunnels hewn into the soft volcanic cliff faces on the shores of Blanche Bay. Tonight we relax in idyllic surroundings at Kulau Beach Lodge, Kabakada Village in Talia Bay on the North Coast Road.

Kulau Lodge Beach Resort - Rabaul
Day 5 – Rabaul, East New Britain 

This morning we travel by boat across the St. Georges Channel to the Duke of York Islands and their picturesque lagoons. This idyllic paradise is made up of a dozen or so islands set among a mesmerizingly, forever changing backdrop of colourful tropical landscapes. The natural beauty is interspersed with scenes of village life as the happy villagers go about living beside the tranquil waters they share with an abundance of marine life. A welcoming host will ensure that your traditional village style accommodation is comfortable, secure and restful as where we are based is a largely uninhabited island. We will dine on plentiful amounts of delicious and freshly harvested fruit, vegetables and fish. We will visit Kabakon “the garden” Island , Pangpang “sand” Island and enjoy a seafood BBQ meal. 

In 1902, the 25-year-old German health reformer, August Engelhardt, who practiced sun worship and a strict coconut diet, retreated from Bavarian university life to Kabakon Island, which he purchased from his mother country with an inheritance. The first few years were idyllic. Engelhardt established a coconut plantation and called his followers to join him in this brave new world. They called themselves Sonnenorden and practised sun worship and nudity and lived off coconuts. But it didn’t last. The alien living conditions took their toll and several died. Others turned their back on him. Engelhardt, known by the local islanders as Mr Coconut, was eventually left alone, gripped by malaria and went insane. He died on the island aged 46 in 1919. Be enthralled with the playful dolphins and mysterious dugongs. Relax whilst birdwatching on the many enchanting jungle trails or beachcomb at your leisure. Learn from hands-on agricultural demonstrations of cocoa, coconut and native garden cultivation and harvesting. Be fascinated by stories from the Tubuan Society of the local Tolai people who have strict laws and taboos. Learn of the Ingiet stone carvings associated with the powerful Ingiet sorcerers and the secret men’s society, outlawed by the German administration in 1905. Early missionaries and travellers to New Britain found it to be the only area in the Pacific region they had come across where the locals had a true money currency of a standard value. The Europeans were intrigued by the local monetary system and the way in which Tambu was intricately woven into the very texture of social life. It still plays its role in Tolai society today, maintaining its cultural significance, particularly as part of the bride price or gift giving to the father of the would be bride.

Following our frolic amongst the beautiful Duke of York Islands we travel by boat to Kokopo township for :

OPTION A - End of Rabaul Mask Festival Tour : Boat journey to accommodation to relax before dinner and a sleep preparing for Sunday morning departure on PX 275- 7.05 am flight from Tokua Airport to Port Moresby arriving at 8.25 am to check-in for PX3 - 10.30 am flight to Brisbane arriving at 1.40 pm Sunday.

OPTION B : New Ireland ExtensionBoat Journey to meet road transit to Tokua Airport for  check-in for Air Nuigini  PX274 - 5.10 pm departure to Kavieng arriving 5.45 pm.

OPTION A TRAVELLERS : Rapopo Plantation Resort – Kokopo or similar 
OPTIONS B TRAVELLERS : Hotel accommodation in Kavieng, New Ireland 
Day 6 – Kokopo to Home Country – Sunday 14th July 2024

OPTION A - End of Rabaul Mask Festival Tour : Boat journey to accommodation to relax before dinner and a sleep preparing for Sunday morning departure on PX 275- 7.05 am flight from Tokua Airport to Port Moresby arriving at 8.25 am to check-in for PX3 - 10.30 am flight to Brisbane arriving at 1.40 pm for Australian travellers.

Day 6 & 7 – Tsoi Islands, New Ireland  –
Sunday 14th & Monday 15th July 2024

OPTION B - Enjoy breakfast at your hotel in Kavieng on the first day of the NEW IRELAND EXTENSION TOUR.

After breakfast we depart Kavieng by boat for your adventure amongst the Tsoi islands that like a string of pearls lie off the north coast of New Hanover Island providing a calm waterway on which to visit Lumeuas Cove Retreat. The Tsoi Islands, located in the New Island Province of Papua New Guinea, offer a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors. A two-day tour of these beautiful islands promises to be filled with adventure, relaxation, and cultural immersion. Visitors can look forward to exploring the crystal-clear waters surrounding the islands by snorkeling, swimming and learning to paddle a locally crafted canoe. The vibrant coral reefs, teeming with exotic marine life, are a sight to behold. A boat tour around the islands is also a great way to take in the breathtaking scenery and appreciate the pristine beauty of the area. Local cuisine, including fresh seafood, tropical fruits, and vegetables, is also a highlight of the visit. Overall, a two-day tour of the Tsoi Islands promises to be an unforgettable adventure, filled with natural beauty. The perfect place to chill and relax after the fast paced 5 days you've just spent at the Rabaul Mask Festival.

Day 8 – Kona , New Ireland  

This morning we drag ourselves away from the tranquil Tsoi Islands and return by boat to Kavieng. We depart Kavieng after a quick tour of the town, heading down the West Coast to Kono Village famous for the customary practice of shark calling. The Kono Island Shark Callers are an indigenous group of people living on Kono Island in the New Island Province of Papua New Guinea. They are renowned for their traditional practice of calling sharks to the shore, a technique that has been passed down through generations of fishermen.The Shark Callers believe that they have a special relationship with the sharks, whom they view as their ancestors and guardians of the sea. Before a shark hunt, the Shark Callers perform a series of rituals and ceremonies to appease the sharks and seek their permission to hunt. During the hunt, the Shark Callers paddle out to sea in their canoes, carrying special rattles made from turtle shells and other objects. They then use these rattles to create a unique sound that mimics the call of a wounded fish, which is believed to attract the sharks to the surface. 

Day 9 – Kavieng , New Ireland  

The most famous cultural system of New Ireland is "Malagan", a Nalik word for an ancient and revered set of practices and ceremonies practised throughout much of the main island. Malagan is also an art where the dead are remembered through the various depictions that are carved on Malagan masks. The Malagan masks have a symbolic meaning as the dead must be remembered through the masks and ceremonies. They are the practical means of capturing the spirits of recent dead relatives or clan members. During the colonial era, significant quantities of Malagan masks were collected by European administrators and can be seen in museums all over Europe.This morning we catch the early flight to Port Moresby

Day 10 – Port Moresby  to Home Country 

Today you can fly home with direct Air Niugini flights to Cairns, Sydney, Singapore & Manila. Travellers flying to Brisbane can depart from Jackson's Airport in Port Moresby on a Qantas flight at 1.35 pm.

A range of carriers provide flights to other destinations.

Did you know?

The Mask Festival is the only festival of its kind in Papua New Guinea. Together with their amazing costumes, groups from all across the islands gather in the coastal town of Kokopo to showcase their elaborate ancestral and spirit masks whilst performing ritual dances, each style forging the unique cultural identity of a tribe.

Witness the 'Kinavai' opening ceremony at dawn, as the arrival of ancestral spirits are welcomed to chants and the beating of kundu drums by elders and initiated young men on canoes.

 

Experience the spectacular Baining Fire Dance from the Tolai’s of the mainland of East New Britain Province, where in this night-time traditional dance, initiated young men perform harrowing dances through blazing fires amidst evocative chanting by their elders.  Join us as we experience one of the most fascinating festivals Papua New Guinea has to offer.

 

In 1902, the 25-year-old German health reformer, August Engelhardt, who practiced sun worship and a strict coconut diet, retreated from Bavarian university life to Kabakon Island in the Duke of York Islands, which he purchased from his mother country with an inheritance. The first few years were idyllic. Engelhardt established a coconut plantation and called his followers to join him in this brave new world. They called themselves Sonnenorden and practised sun worship and nudity and lived off coconuts. But it didn’t last. The alien living conditions took their toll and several died. Others turned their back on him. Engelhardt, known by the local islanders as Mr Coconut, was eventually left alone, gripped by malaria and went insane. He died on the island aged 46 in 1919.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Emma Coe was a Polynesian Princess and daughter of an American sailor and Samoan mother who in the late 19th century brought commerce to East New Britain, through her savvy business sense and huge land holdings, upon which she grew an abundance of copra and cocoa. The steps are 140 years old, built in 1882 to grace Queen Emma’s famous bungalow Gunantambu. They were climbed by Governors, Ambassadors and Officers representing German Kaiser, American President and kings of England, France and other European nations along with assorted bishops and world-renowned scientists, explorers, anthropologists and adventurers. Gunantambu gatherings were famous throughout the South Seas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tubuan Society of the local Tolai people who have strict laws and taboos.

Learn of the Ingiet stone carvings associated with the powerful Ingiet sorcerers and the secret men’s society, outlawed by the German administration in 1905. Early missionaries and travellers to New Britain found it to be the only area in the Pacific region they had come across where the locals had a true money currency of a standard value. The Europeans were intrigued by the local monetary system and the way in which Tambu was intricately woven into the very texture of social life. It still plays its role in Tolai society today, maintaining its cultural significance, particularly as part of the bride price or gift giving to the father of the would be bride.

 

The Rabaul Caldera was created about 1400 years ago with an explosion which erupted 11 cubic kilometres of rock. This massive outpouring of gas, lava, rocks and ash produced the largest volcanic dry fog in recorded history. A mysterious cloud that blocked sunlight for 12 to 18 months over Europe, China and the Middle East in 536 AD is linked to this mighty eruption.

The Marquis de Ray, whose real name was Charles Guillain, was a French adventurer who attempted to establish a colony in the New Ireland Province of Papua New Guinea in the late 19th century.

Born in France in 1825, de Ray harbored ambitions of founding a utopian settlement in the Pacific.In 1878, de Ray acquired a large tract of land in New Ireland, which he named "Franceville." He proclaimed himself the Marquis de Ray and began recruiting French settlers to join his colony. Promising fertile land and a prosperous future, de Ray managed to attract around 200 individuals to embark on this venture.

However, the expedition turned into a disaster. The settlers faced numerous hardships, including disease, scarcity of resources, and conflicts with local indigenous populations. The dream of a flourishing French colony quickly crumbled, and de Ray's leadership was called into question.

As conditions worsened, some settlers managed to escape the island, and others perished. Eventually, de Ray was arrested and brought back to France to face charges of fraud and deception. He was sentenced to imprisonment and died in 1895.

The ill-fated endeavor of the Marquis de Ray in New Ireland Province serves as a cautionary tale of colonial ambitions gone awry. It highlights the challenges and complexities involved in establishing new settlements in unfamiliar territories, particularly when undertaken without adequate planning, resources, and respect for the local population

bottom of page