Introducing East of Honiara
The road to Mt Austen begins in Kukum and climbs up to the historical sites where Japanese troops doggedly resisted the US advance. The Solomons Peace Memorial Park, about 3.5km from the main coastal road, was built by Japanese war veterans in 1981 to commemorate all who died in the WWII Guadalcanal campaign. Further south you’ll go past the Gifu, named after a Japanese district by its wartime Japanese defenders, before reaching the summit of Mt Austen (410m). A dirt track leads to a former Japanese Observation Point. Americans in WWII dubbed this spot Grassy Knoll. There’s a plaque that explains the strategic importance of Mt Austen during WWII.
About 6.5km from Honiara is the turnoff south to the Betikama SDA Mission. The sprawling property comprises a large handicraft shop and a small museum (S$25) with an outdoor collection of WWII debris.
A memorial at Henderson Airport honours US forces and their Pacific islander allies. About 100m to the west of the terminal is the scaffold-style US WWII control tower.
About 4km past the airport, you’ll find a marble monument on a private property near a deserted black-sand beach at Hell’s Point. The Japanese Colonel Kiyono Ichiki and his 800 men ‘died with courage’ here on 20 August 1942 after a banzai attack from the eastern side of the creek against US machine guns and artillery mounted on its western bank.
A few hundred metres further east, a road heads inland and follows the west bank of the Tenaru River. After 1.5km you’ll come to Marine Hospital No 8, the first wartime hospital in Guadalcanal, in Tenaru Village. Tenaru is the launching pad for the Tenaru Waterfalls.
Back to the main coastal road, continue further east until you reach Red Beach. Here you’ll find a lonely, very rusted Japanese gun, placed here by US veterans and pointing forlornly out to sea. This is the only reminder of the US landings here in 1942.
Continue east to Tetere, where a dirt track leads to a beach and 30 or more abandoned amtracks (amphibious troop carriers). There’s a S$50 kastom fee.