Mat McLachlan’s WW2 History Cruise | NOW ON SALE!

June 13, 2019 john 0 Comments

ON SALE NOW...less than 150 cabins remain

Introducing the Mat McLachlan WW2 History Cruise, a bespoke holiday experience designed to provide an immersive war history experience.

Hosted aboard P&O Pacific Dawn, this 10-night holiday will provide guests an experience like no other as they explore the history of neighbouring Papua New Guinea. A truly immersive experience, guests will enjoy a range of workshops, shore excursions and seminar discussions all hosted by renowned historians and led by Mat McLachlan.



Mat McLachlan is a leading battlefield historian, author and founder of Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours who 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 1, Australia: Life on the Edge, Lost in Flanders), as well as on television and radio programs to discuss Australia’s wartime history, commemorative days and key battle anniversaries.


Dr Karl James

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

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, Australia’s Battlefields in Vietnam, Going Back 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

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.

Here are some valuable - Frequently Asked Questions
Mat McLachlan WW2 History Cruise


Who is the Mat McLachlan WW2 History Cruise suitable for?
The immersive war history cruise has been designed to appeal to those who have ancestors who fought in wars, those with an interest in world history and those seeking an educational yet relaxing holiday. The itinerary includes a cocktail welcome party, three special group dinners, exclusive shore excursions, and, three sea days comprised of morning and afternoon conference sessions as well as plenty of free time to enjoy the amenities and services aboard Pacific Dawn.

The history content is designed to be an enlightening and entertaining part of client’s holiday. While some of the historians have academic qualifications, their presentations will be designed to provide a personal insight from both the Australian and the Japanese perspectives.

What historical sites are visited?
The two shore excursions, led by expert historians, will take guests on explore Milne Bay and Rabaul.

Milne Bay was a key strategic point for World War Two in the Pacific. Australian troops arrived in Milne Bay in June 1942 and began work alongside American comrades carving roads and three airstrips out of jungle and swamp. For the Japanese, it was essential to claim this region back to protect their forces from this strategically sited air base and to progress their takeover of the island and Port Moresby. During the night on 25 August 1942, 2000 Japanese marines attacked the Allied base. The ensuing battle lasted three weeks, with the Allies claiming victory.

Rabaul: In 1942, Japanese forces established a massive military complex in the town of Rabaul serving over 97,000 soldiers and thousands of accompanying personnel. To guard against air bombardment, the Japanese dug 800 kilometres of tunnels to house their commend centres, barracks, storehouses, and a hospital. These tunnels remain today snaking beneath the island.

What is the typical group size on the shore excursions?
The finer operational requirements of the shore excursions are currently being finalised with local suppliers and authorities. We expect there to be a number of groups operating to accommodate all Mat McLachlan WW2 History Cruise passengers throughout the duration of the shore day(s).

Will there be disabled access on shore excursions?
Some of the historical sights are off the track and a Moderate level of fitness is recommended. The shore excursion tours are not suitable for passengers with limited mobility. The local roads may be unsealed and bumpy and walking surfaces may be uneven and have some steps.

How will guests hear the historians on the shore excursions?
The historians will be wearing microphones and guests will be wearing headsets.

How confronting will the content be? Are experiences similar to a memorial?
Overall, the Mat McLachlan WW2 History Cruise is designed to be informative and enlightening. The content is not designed to be confronting. The experiences on the shore excursions are similar to visiting an interactive museum, with key sites being brought to life through the stories delivered by historians. The details of the shore excursions are provided in the tour itinerary.

Will guests have leisure time in port or does the experience run for the full duration of port time?
There will be two shore excursions included in the program. There will be one 2-hour excursion in Milne Bay and one 4-hour excursion in Rabaul. There are other opportunities for shore excursions at other islands throughout the cruise however these are not included in the Mat McLachlan WW2 History Cruise program or package price.

How many people will be in each seminar? Will I get one-on-one time with historians?
The maximum group size of seminars will be 500 people, this is the capacity of the Pacific Dawn auditorium. The conferencing sessions have been designed to promote audience participation, there will be keynote presentations presented by a feature historian followed by Q&A’s; panel discussions with multiple historians; and; interactive workshops.

Across numerous social functions, guests will have the opportunity to spend time with historians in a more intimate fashion. Social functions include a welcome cocktail event and three group dinners. There will also be more casual opportunities outside of these events to interact one-on-one with historians as they will be onboard for the duration of the cruise.

How much time per day will be dedicated to the War History experience?
Over the three onboard Conference days, there will be a total of 4-hours divided into two 2-hour sessions in the morning and afternoon. These Conference days will be a mixture of keynote presentations from each of the historians on flagship topics, panel discussions with multiple historians, and, more relaxed interactive workshops. On shore excursion days, there will be one2-hour excursion in Rabaul and one 4-hour excursion in Milne Bay.

Do clients need to do any preparation before the cruise?
No formal preparation is required, however, if your clients have any family members who served in Papua New Guinea please inform us at the time of booking. Mat McLachlan WW2 History Cruise historians are able to assist guests to trace their ancestors and highlight special sites and battles where relatives fought.

What war history will the historians cover off?
Historians have been carefully selected to create a diverse, informative and interesting holiday program. Across keynote presentations, panel discussions, workshops and the shore excursions; the historians will cover:

- The War in the Pacific from both the Australian and Japanese perspectives
- The history and importance of Milne Bay and Rabaul
- Personal stories about what it is like to fight in combat
- How to research a relative and more.

Question and Answer time will be included throughout the Mat McLachlan WW2 History Cruise program to allow guests to have their own war history questions answered.

What will be the format of the conference?
There are three sea days during the cruise. On each of these days, four hours of conferencing will take place with the day divided into two 2-hour sessions in the morning and afternoon. The sessions will be broken into hourly blocks which will feature different themes and formats. Keynote presentations by a feature historian will run for about 45 minutes followed by about 15 minutes of Q&A. Panel discussions among multiple historians will foster interesting discussions. More relaxed, interactive workshops will encourage audience participation and provide guidance for guests’ own relative war history research.

Are we able to take photos at historical sites?

Are there networking events? Who attends these?
There are a range of exclusive events onboard for guests to network and get to know one another. These include a special cocktail welcome party, three special group dinners in addition to the three days of thought-provoking conference sessions.

Are we expected to pay gratuities?
Paying Gratuities is not required on Pacific Dawn but if you would like to thank the crew who provide you with great service, you are welcome to tip them personally or visit the Reception Desk to have the tip added to your onboard account.

What is the refund policy?
Cancelation 91 or more days prior to sailing Deposit is non-refundable. Cancelation 90 days or less to sailing results in loss of all monies paid.

Do clients need a passport?