During World War II the South Pacific Sea was an explosive battleground between Japan and America. There was some serious action throughout Papua New Guinea, which means that inevitably, there are many plane and shipwrecks scattered throughout the island nation. Many of the plane wrecks are accessible by scuba-dive but throughout our three weeks in Papua New Guinea, we also visited a number of plane wrecks on land. The most impressive of them all was the Talasea plane wrecks in New Britain.
WHERE IS THE TALASEA PLANE WRECKS AND HOW TO GET THERE
The Talasea Plane Wrecks are found in an area to the west of Kimbe Town in West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. It’s just a 30-minute drive from Walindi Plantation Resort.
Kimbe is quite a remote region. Most overseas visitors to the region come to stay at Walindi Plantation Resort. The popular scuba-diving resort is the only well-known accommodation in the region and is where I stayed on my visit. It is one of the best places I have stayed on my travels. We had a private bungalow, fantastic meals each night and the diving is right on the doorstep. You just dive, eat, explore, eat, sleep, repeat and everything else is taken care of to a very high, western resort-style standard.
Walindi Plantation Resort offers a number of land-excursions to compliment their diving options. The land excursions include the Talasea WWII plane wrecks, the Garbuna Volcano trek, bird watching, and the Garu Hot River.
To get to Kimbe Bay you will need to fly into Hoskins Airport and then get the Walindi Private Shuttle down to the resort. There is no public transport so if you were trying to visit without a stay at Walindi Plantation, you would need to make all of your own plans regarding transport and where to stay. It isn’t a very easy area for DIY due to the remoteness.
MY EXPERIENCE AT THE TALASEA PLANE WRECKS
The drive into the Talasea Plane Wrecks takes about 30-40 minutes along the coast from Walindi Plantation Resort. The road is only acessibly by four-wheel drive and is very muddy and rocky. We were sideways at one point but our driver, a local legend named Joseph, was always in control.
The Talasea Plane Wrecks are in the same position they crashed in. They haven’t been moved but a palm-oil plantation has been planted in the region, replacing the former town. This means that the jungle is slowly overtaking the two bomber wrecks found at the site. The wrecks are on either side of the road and you can explore each with just a 20-yard stroll from the road making it an easy activity after a day of scuba-diving or island-hopping.
THE AMERICAN B-25 BOMBER FROM WWII
The American B-25H bomber was tasked with fly-over patrols around Bougainville to keep watch for any Japanese threats. This specific bomber was tasked with a patrol over the southern coast of New Britain in search of any ships bringing in Japanese supplies.
The bomber spotted several barges and supply ships and successfully destroyed them. However, during the flight, there was an engine failure. Talasea airfield was the nearest airstrip to make an emergency landing. The aircraft managed to land but caused serious damage to its nose gear and slid to stop. Luckily, all on board survived and managed to walk away.
THE LOCKHEED VENTURA WRECK
One week after the B-25H made its an emergency landing, the Lockheed Venture NZ4522 was on a mission to bomb an airstrip located near Rabaul. After dropping several bombs on the target, one of the engines cut out. The Lockheed Ventura was now flying on one engine and couldn’t make it back to Bougainville Island so the call was made to make an emergency landing at Talasea airstrip. The landing was made with no injuries to those on board.
WHERE TO STAY IN NEW BRITAIN
Kimbe is quite a remote region. Most overseas visitors to the region come to stay at Walindi Plantation Resort. The popular scuba-diving resort is the only well-known accommodation in the region and is where I stayed on my visit. It is one of the best places I have stayed on my travels. We had a private bungalow, fantastic meals each night and the diving is right on the doorstep. You just dive, eat, explore, eat, sleep, repeat and everything else is taken care of to a very high, western resort-style standard. It’s definitely not a cheap option but you do get what you pay for at Walindi Plantation Resort, so if you have the coin, you will not be disappointed.