Monday, 21 September 2009

...pompeii shmompeii

So a volcano erupted and wiped out an ancient city in 79 AD.


I'm not going to spend $20 at the Melbourne Museum to see a bunch of broken pots. How much can we really learn from plaster casts of corpses and reenactments of people in togas being smothered by rivers of molten rock. It burns OK!

Far more interesting is the much less 'celebrated' 1997 eruption of the Soufrière Hills Volcano and consequent destruction of the city of Plymouth on the Carribean Isle of Monserrat. Same shit as Pompeii, but only 12 years ago, so none of the romance I guess.

The remains of Plymouth - 1997

As with the town of Rabaul on the island of New Britain in Papua New Guinea, 1994. Same deal, only Papuans died instead of sexy, swinging Italians, so no interest there either.

The edge of the Rabaul Caldera - 1994

The most amazing in my opinion is that of the eruption of Mt. Pelee on the island of Martinique in 1902. The eruption killed the entire population (30,000 people) of the capital city of St. Pierre. There were just two survivors - Louis August Cyparis, an Afro-Caribbean man who only survived from being locked in a poorly ventilated dungeon at the time of the eruption, and another bloke hiding on the outskirts of town. Louis went on to become an international celebrity and did all the talk shows etc.

St. Pierre after the 1902 eruption of Mt. Pelee

Sure we all like a bit of disaster porn, but if we want to actually learn something about catastrophic volcanic eruptions, we'd best fix our gaze on more recent events. We may even be compelled to help some of the victims still suffering in the aftermath of such events.

I'm Derryn Hinch.


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At 21 September 2009 at 18:54 , Blogger Baino said...

My My you are Derryn Hinch tonight . . one eyed grumpy drawers in need of a bowl of All Bran! Actually the Pompei exhibition is also the small artifacts rather than the ghoulish stuff although I believe that's there as well. Sort of travelling art show. Dunno about you but paying $20 to see an ash covered Cortina doesn't quite do it for me!

At 21 September 2009 at 22:31 , Blogger P said...

I can remember the 1997 eruption of the Soufrière Hills Volcano - but for the life of me can't remember the 1994 one that obliterated Rabaul.

That's sad and very embarrassing, seeing as though it's just up the road and around the corner a bit.

Shame. Shame. Shame.

(Congratulations on the brewing bub - if you ever need advice, just holler. My kids call me Mother Of The Year all the time, so that must mean I really know my stuff. Or something.)

At 22 September 2009 at 10:45 , Blogger The Man at the Pub said...

Baino-Yeah you're right. It was a pretty silly post and is probab;ly best ignored.

Thanks P. I remember Rabaul. It was a big deal beacuase Ray Martin was there. Some pretty amazing film footage of the eruption too. I might add some to the post.

Mum of the Year hey? I'll be sure to call on your sage advice as questions and dilemas arise.

At 22 September 2009 at 11:19 , Blogger mauswara said...

Rabaul is still being threatened by eruptions on a daily basis. Flights to and from Tokua airport (the new airport that replaced Rabaul) are often suspended due to volcanic ash.

At 22 September 2009 at 15:23 , Blogger The Man at the Pub said...

Hi Mauswara. Is the live volcano much of a tourist attraction? Could be profitable.

I like your PNG news blog. Well done. I love PNG and like many Aussies, have some family connections there. My sister used to fly to Rabaul from Bougainville for holidays. Word is they do the best pizza in PNG there, and have a good local music scene.

At 22 September 2009 at 22:30 , Blogger mauswara said...

Yes, tourists do take the trip from Tokua or Kokopo to the site of old Rabaul town and see the hot sulphur springs and volcano in action.

Probably the best way is to read the article located here -

Thanks for your comments about the PNG Gossip blog.

At 26 September 2009 at 10:17 , Blogger Kath Lockett said...

'Disaster Porn' - I love it. Perfect way to describe things. Young Pubster is going to learn a lot from you!


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