We recently discovered yet another cool World War II site in Guadalcanal, this time by pure chance.
During the recent Melanesian Art Festival, we met two grandsons of national hero Sir Jacob Vouza, the Sergeant of the Solomon Islands Coastwatchers from World War II. The Coastwatchers were military intelligence operatives stationed on remote Pacific islands like the Solomon Islands during World War II that observed enemy movements and rescued stranded Allies.
Said Grandsons asked us if we were interested in looking at some surviving American huts that not many people knew about.
Yes. Yes we would like that very much.
We met our man Isaac in Ranadi, one of Sir Jacob Vouza’s grandsons and our tour guide for the day. As we have said before, World War II sites are always found down roads with long grass on either side so it’s always a very good idea to have a guide.
The entrance to the site itself is about 14 km east from Henderson Airport just past a bridge crossing the Ngalimbiu River. That’s about the limit of helpful directions we can give because the freedom of complete inattention to direction is the advantage you get when your guide is in your car.
We’d been driving for about 15 minutes off the main road past a lot of same-same long grass and nondescript dirt roads when Isaac chirps, “This is the old airfield the Americans built in World War II.”
Nid and I are looking out the window seeing nothing but grass until we realise, we’re driving on it. This old runway is one of the American airfields that were built during the war before the American’s captured Henderson airport. Every now and then we pass patches of remnant concrete.
Cool story, Isaac.
From here, we drove through the old runway until we came across two American quonset huts. Quonset huts are military all-purpose huts that were used for anything that needed a roof such as living and storage.
From a distance, it looks like the human-sized Hobbiton of Matamata. We saw five huts in total. The locals now use them as storage for their garden harvests or shelter when mighty rains kam. One looked like the local creche centre and was covered in muddy handprints.
Near some of the
By the time we’ve looked at all the huts we’re feeling pretty lucky because we’ve spent the entire tour driving around and stopping only when we wanted to get out and explore a hut. For everything else in Solomon Islands looking at cool stuff usually entails walking and sweat. As we drive through the site, Isaac peppers our journey with cool facts and commentary passed on from his father.
Eventually, we end up at Koli Point beach which is one of the beaches where the Americans first came ashore in 1942. It’s now a great spot to have a picnic in the shade while listening to Isaac stori.
It’s while we’re sharing nuts and crackers that Isaac tells us how happy he is to have brought a promotion team to have a look around.
A what? A promotion team?!
Somewhere along the way there’s been a small miscommunication. We keep that to ourselves but lucky our blog is so famous that all is not lost. Promote we shall!
You need a car or a friend with a car, and a full tank of gas.
Ring Isaac on 749 1837 or 858 4942. He will meet you outside Ranadi Bulkshop where you can pick him up. As your guide for the day make sure you’ve factored in a car seat for him. This trip is easy to do any time of the day as you’re driving around most of the time.
Because you’re also almost there anyway so you might as well, combine this with a visit to the nearby Tetere Tank Beach where you can see a bunch of old Amtraks. It turns out Isaac is the cousin of the owner of that land – they’re all grandchildren of Sir Jacob Vouza.
SBD 100 per person for the guided tour and entry onto land (not including Tank Beach).
- Car (with an empty seat for Isaac)