Papua New Guinea WW2 History Cruise


DEPARTS: 6th October 2021

from $1999
11 Days
  • Price: per person, twin share
  • Single Supplement: 200%
  • Deposit: $500
Join us on this exclusive 11-day WW2 History cruise of Papua New Guinea, including a three-day conference on board with leading Historians plus special shore excursions to Rabaul & Milne Bay.

Papua New Guinea WW2 History Cruise

Explore the military history and fascinating culture of Papua New Guinea on this exclusive 11-day WW2 History cruise. You will be accompanied by some of Australia’s leading WW2 historians, who will bring the history of the Pacific War to life with a program of keynote presentations, panel discussions and workshops during our 3-day conference. And on shore you will walk the ground in the footsteps of the Anzacs at Milne Bay and Rabaul, accompanied by our historians. This cruise group is being organised exclusively by Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours.


Day 1 > Wednesday, 6 October 2021 | Embarkation in Brisbane

Welcome to the inaugural World War 2 History cruise. Make your own way to the Port of Brisbane to embark the Pacific Explorer. The ship will depart at 4.00pm so aim to be aboard at least two hours prior. This evening you will meet with our historians and the other passengers who are taking part in the history cruise at a cocktail party from 6.00pm – 8.00pm. (L, D)

STAR INCLUSIONS  Welcome Cocktail Party

Day 2 > Thursday, 7 October 2021 | At Sea – History Conference

Our history conference begins today, with two separate sessions (8am-10am and 1pm-3pm). This evening will be at leisure. (B, L, D)

STAR INCLUSIONS  Conference sessions

Day 3 > Friday, 8 October 2021 | At Sea – History Conference

The second day of our history conference, with two separate sessions (8am-10am and 1pm-3pm). This evening will be at leisure. (B, L, D)

STAR INCLUSIONS  Conference sessions

Day 4 > Saturday, 9 October 2021 | The Battle of Milne Bay

Today we are in port from 8.00am – 5.00pm. This is the first of our exclusive shore excursions to discover some of Australia’s key battles in New Guinea. Beginning at the Cross Roads where the John French Victoria Cross action took place and the site of his memorial. We will then continue on to the site of Robinson’s ambush at Cameron Springs. Your historian will bring to life the epic struggle to fight off the Imperial Japanese Naval Forces that were attempting to capture the vital Milne Bay airfields. As we head into the main part of town, we will make a short side trip to Hiwehiwe lookout, a vantage point that allows a magnificent view of the Bay. We continue with a visit to KB Mission and the Turnbull Memorial located on the original No.3 airstrip. Finally, we will hold a commemorative service at the Milne Bay Memorial, remembering all those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice during the campaign. This evening is at leisure. (B, L, D)

STAR INCLUSIONS  Cameron Springs   KB Mission   No 3 Strip    Milne Bay Memorial

Day 5 > Sunday, 10 October 2021 | Kitava, Trobriand Islands

Today we are in port from 8.00am – 4.00pm. Here one of the world’s most intact island cultures resides on one the world’s most untouched islands, and you are among the select few who are lucky enough to experience them both. Tonight, join together with the historians and fellow passengers for a group dinner. (B, L, D)


Day 6 > Monday, 11 October 2021 | Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

Today we are in port from 8.00am – 6.00pm. This is the second of our exclusive shore excursions to discover some of Australia’s key battles in New Guinea. From the port, a short drive takes us to Kabakaul, the first amphibious landing and military operation of WW1 for the Australian forces. We then continue on to Bita Paka War Cemetery, home to over one thousand graves for Allied and Australian soldiers who died defending Rabaul from the Japanese during WWII, as well as some WW1 burials. Next, we will uncover the Japanese barge tunnels, still containing three barges. This was part of over 300 miles of underground pathways designed to conceal munitions stores, hospitals and more. We will ten go on to view the Lark Force-2/22nd & Montevideo Maru Memorial before visiting the Japanese Admiral Yamamoto’s Bunker. We will then make our way up to Namanula Hill, housing the remains of the old German Governor Haber’s residence. We will be able to see a magnificent view as we look out over the harbour. This evening will be at leisure. (B, L, D)

STAR INCLUSIONS  Rabaul shore excursion   Bita Paka War Cemetery   Japanese barge tunnels

Lark Force-2/22nd & Montevideo Maru Memorial   Yamamoto’s Bunker

Day 7 > Tuesday, 12 October 2021 | Kiriwina Island

Today we are in port from approximately 9.00am – 5.00pm. Here one of the world’s most intact island cultures resides on one the world’s most untouched islands. This evening will be at leisure. (B, L, D)

Day 8 > Wednesday, 13 October 2021 | Conflict Islands

Don’t be fooled by the name, this is paradise in the Coral Sea! The Conflict Islands are made up of 21 untouched islands in Papua New Guinea. With spectacular reefs, palm trees and deep blue seas, the Conflict Islands are home an incredible array of marine wildlife. Today you may have a day at leisure on the ship or you may choose to purchase a shore excursion. This evening we will come together with the historians and our fellow passengers for a group dinner. (B, L, D)


Day 9 > Thursday, 14 October 2021 | At Sea – History Conference

The final day of our conference program, with two separate sessions (8am-10am and 1pm-3pm). This evening will be at leisure. (B, L, D)

STAR INCLUSIONS  Conference sessions and panel interview with historians

Day 10 > Friday, 15 October 2021 | At Sea

Today is a chance for you to relax and enjoy all the facilities on board Pacific Explorer. This evening join together with the historians and fellow passengers for a farewell dinner. (B, L, D)

STAR INCLUSIONS  Farewell Dinner

Day 11 > Saturday, 16 October 2021 | Disembarkation in Brisbane

We will arrive at the Port of Brisbane at approximately 6.00am and disembark the ship afterwards. (B)


★   11-day cruise on board the 4-Star Pacific Explorer
★   Hosted by Mat McLachlan
★   Exclusive 3-day WW2 conference with leading historians including Karl James, Gary McKay, David Howell, Keiko Tamura, Peter Dean, and conference MC, Chris Masters
★   Exclusive shore tours accompanied by select conference historians at Milne Bay and Rabaul
★   Exotic cultural destinations including Kitava, Kiriwina and Conflict Islands
★   All meals including three private group dinners with historians and other guests
★   Welcome cocktail party

Your Hosts

Mat McLachlan is a leading battlefield historian, author and broadcaster, and the founder of Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours. He has spent more than two decades following in the footsteps of Australian troops around the world. He is an authority on the battlefields of the Western Front, Gallipoli, the Pacific battlefields of World War Two, the Vietnam War and the Normandy landing beaches.

His 2007 book, Walking with the Anzacs, is the definitive guide to Australian battlefields on the Western Front and has been reprinted seven times. Mat’s second book, Gallipoli: The Battlefield Guide, is the most comprehensive guide to the Australian battlefields of Gallipoli.

Mat regularly appears in historical documentaries (Tony Robinson’s World War 1Australia: Life on the EdgeLost in Flanders), as well as on television and radio programs to discuss Australia’s wartime history, commemorative days and key battle anniversaries.

Karl James Papua New Guinea WW2 History Cruise Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours

Dr Karl James has been a historian at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, since 2006, and has been Head of the Military History Section from May 2019.

A graduate of the University of Wollongong, his research focuses on Australia’s involvement in the Second World War. His publications include Kokoda: Beyond the Legend (editor), Double Diamonds: Australian Commandos in the Pacific War, 1941–45 and The Hard Slog: Australians in the Bougainville Campaign, 1944-45. He is a member of the editorial staff for the Memorial’s magazine Wartime.

He has worked on major exhibitions at the Memorial, including as lead curator for From the Shadows: Australia’s Special Forces (2017–18), the special anniversary exhibition Rats of Tobruk, 1941 (2011), and the refurbishment of the permanent Second World War Galleries (2010).

Dr James is currently working with Professor Peter Dean on the edited volume Australia in the Second World War. Dr James is also writing a new history of the 1941 siege of Tobruk and a popular history of the operations of HMAS Sydney’s (III) Carrier Air Group in 1951–52 during the Korean War.

Gary McKay Papua New Guinea WW2 History Cruise Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours 2

Gary McKay spent 30 years as an army officer after being conscripted for national service in 1968. He served in South Vietnam in 1971 as an infantry rifle platoon commander where he was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry and severely wounded in the last major Australian battle of the Vietnam War.

In 1987 Gary’s best-selling autobiography In Good Company was released and he began what is now a full-time career as a non-fiction writer and freelance historian. He is Australia’s most prolific writer on the subject of the Vietnam War having released 12 books with Allen & Unwin. Two of his latest, Australia’s Battlefields in Vietnam and Going Back have been highly acclaimed by veterans who have returned to Vietnam and those wanting to see where Australia fought during the war. Gary has also travelled widely in the Pacific doing research and leading battlefield tours in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

David Howell Papua New Guinea WW2 History Cruise Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours 2

David Howell is a Melbourne-based historian, author and tour guide. Growing up with the stories of the war in New Guinea by his grandfather, David has made over 50 crossings of the famous Kokoda Track along with visiting most of the major battlefields in Papua New Guinea.

David spent the last five years working at the Shrine of Remembrance, the national war memorial of Victoria where he created their journal, Remembrance.He is a serving member of the Army Reserve and has deployed on peacekeeping operations. David is also the Hon. Secretary of the 39th Australian Infantry Battalion.

Peter Dean Historian Battlefield Tours

Peter Dean is Professor of War Studies and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) at the University of Western Australia. His research interests are Australian military history – focussing on the Pacific War, Australian strategic policy, and the ANZUS Alliance. Peter’s books on this topic, include MacArthur’s Coalition: US and Australian Military Operations in the Southwest Pacific Area, 1942-1945 (published 2018), and a three volume series on Australia in the Pacific War (Australia 1942: In the Shadow of War; Australia 1943: The Liberation of New Guinea; Australia 1944-45: Victory in the Pacific). His next book will discuss Australian military and amphibious warfare in the Pacific. He is also involved with the Melbourne University Press Defence Studies Series, the peer-reviewed journal – Global War Studies, and the Australian Army Journal.

Keiko Tamura Historian Battlefield Tours

Keiko Tamura is a Japanese born anthropologist/historian whose research focuses on Australia-Japan relations. She worked for the Australia-Japan Research Project at the Australian War Memorial for twelve years, looking into war experiences of the Australian and Japanese soldiers in New Guinea and surrounding islands.  Between 2014 and 2018, she was research advisor to the Japanese government for an archival study to locate Japanese soldiers’ remains in the Pacific. Her research topics include Japanese military nurses in Rabaul, Japanese war brides, and memories of war and commemorations. She also led the Cowra Japanese War Cemetery Database Project, launched in May 2019.

Chris Masters Historian Battlefield Tours

Chris Masters is one of Australia’s best-known, most successful and most influential investigative journalists – inducted into the Australian Media Hall of Fame in 2017. He retains the record of longest serving reporter on Australia’s longest running current affairs program, Four Corners. Over 25 years he made a series of nation shaping reports, among them The Moonlight State, investigating police corruption in Queensland which helped trigger the Fitzgerald Inquiry and reforms across Australia. He has received multiple awards including the premier Gold Walkley for his international expose of the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, and is the author of five best-selling books.

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Room Rates

Inside Cabin | $1999 per person, twin share
Oceanview Cabin | $2799 per person, twin share
Balcony Cabin | $3599 per person, twin share
Mini Suite | $4299 per person, twin share
Suite Cabin | $5499 per person, twin share

Contact our reservations team on 1300 880 340 or click on the enquiry button below and leave your details.

Ask about our airfare, hotel and car hire deals, which offer great discounts when booked in conjunction with our tours.

Deposit: $500

Single supplement: 200%

Passengers are bound by the full P&O Cruises Australia terms and conditions

Full terms and conditions click here

Please note: Itineraries are subject to change due to operational reasons. In addition, your Historian may alter the sites visited on each day to suit local conditions. Any changes will be advised closer to the time of departure.

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