Buna, Sanananda and Gona

Buna, Sanananda and Gona located on the northern beaches in the Oro Province of Papua New Guinea are known for fierce fighting between the Allies and the Japanese during the Battle of the Beachheads in WW2 more than anything else. The Japanese occupied Gona to the west, and Buna to the east, including Sanananda. These defences were formed to support the Japanese advance across the Kokoda Track. The Japanese re-occupied the northern beachheads after they were forced out of the Kokoda Track by the Australians.

Buna was the main base for the Japanese advance along the Kokoda Track. During the Battle of Buna, it was heavily defended so the Australians attacked with tanks and infantry with the US in support, before removing the Japanese on 2nd January 1943. The Battle of Sanananda was the longest of the three battles. The Australians attacked mainly along Sanananda track supported by the US. Gona is where the Japanese first landed on 21st July 1942, before advancing across the Kokoda Track. Gona was the smallest of the three Japanese defensive positions but was well defended. After several attempts during the Battle of Gona, the Australians took Gona on 9th December 1942. Australian casualties included 967 killed in action, 228 missing presumed killed, 66 died of wounds, and 2210 wounded in action, from the bitter fighting at Buna, Sanananda and Gona.

Today, the beautiful coastal villages of Buna, Sanananda and Gona are abuzz with friendly locals, who welcome visitors and are always happy to tell travelers about their experiences during the war, including showcasing their customs and traditions. Prior to colonisation, the locals were fierce headhunters, who were later pacified by missionaries mainly from the Anglican Church, who brought about many social, political and economic change. Christianity helped suppress tribal wars through the involvement of mission work in the lives of the locals.

The northern beaches is a great stopover after a grueling Kokoda Trail trek or just as a tour for those interested in visiting the battle sites. To tour Buna, Sanananda and Gona, go to our tour page to book.