Waiting For the Big Bang


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1983, 44 Minutes

Rabaul, New Britain is sitting on a time bomb. It’s hard for the Tolai inhabitants to cope with the constant threat of volcanic eruption as they wait and prepare for the next big one. For them, the town is their beloved madapai (home or place of origin) and cannot be abandoned. The last time the volcano under which Rabaul lies erupted was in 1937, when an estimated 500 people died and again in the early 1940s, with no loss of life.

Waiting For the Big Bang includes historical footage showing the luxuriant lifestyle of German colonialists pre World War II and then the occupation of the Japanese army. It also shows contemporary scenes of the easygoing Tolai lifestyle, interspersed with full-blown evacuation exercises and scientific excursions into the craters of active volcanoes.

Ten years after Waiting for the Big Bang was made, two active vents—Tavurvur and Vulcan—erupted in 1994 with cataclysmic effect. The township of Rabaul was completely buried under a deep layer of thick brown volcanic silt. The citizens were forced to abandon their town and move to Kokopo, 20 kilometres away.

© 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.


Producer/Director/Co-writer: Bob Kingsbury

Year: 1983

Running Time: 44 Minutes

Classification: Exempt from classification

Curriculum Links: Cultural Studies; Geology, Emergency procedures / Disaster Response training programs; Pacific Studies; Volcanology.


When Will the Birds Return

SKU 198304300
Brand Film Australia

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