Though Nauru is only around 21 square kilometres, there is plenty of war history dotted around the island. You just need to know where to look!
During World War II, Nauru was occupied by Japan for around three years. The Japanese used Nauru as a stronghold and increased warfare infrastructure by building tunnels, a war prison and placing powerful guns at the top points of Nauru
Three of these guns are still present and easy to find in the wilderness on the topside of Nauru, an area known for the heavy phosphate mining and recognisable rock pinnacles caused by it.
*When adventuring in Nauru, please be mindful of mosquitos and dogs. It is advisable to take someone with you who knows where they are going*
On the road towards Buada Lagoon, there are the remnants of train tracks hidden underneath a well-groomed, sandy path on the left-hand side. The train tracks were originally used for carrying phosphate down to the shore to be transferred onto ships, but are now almost hidden. This sandy path now continues down a road marked for trucks carrying phosphate, however just before you turn onto that road (on the left), there is a gap in the bushes. This section is also just past the “Welcome to Buada” sign.
You won’t see it if you’re not looking for it, but if you walk through the gap in the trees and down the well-worn path, you will reach the remains of a Japanese Prison from the war. These isolated prison cells used to house enemies of the Japanese in World War II. Make sure you wear plenty of mosquito repellent when visiting, as the mosquitos here are particularly vicious.
To see one of the guns left over from the war, you then drive a little way down the road for phosphate trucks, you will see an unmarked gravel road to your left. Drive as far up this road as your vehicle will allow, and then walk the rest of the way, following the worn path to get there. It is quite difficult to get lost.
This gun has dents in the barrels near the top, meaning it can no longer be used effectively. You will also see a tunnel here originally used to climb inside the gun.
If you continue past the gun and clamber down amongst the pinnacles, you may find the ruins of an aircraft which was shot down during the war. However, these are harder to find and it is almost unidentifiable as an aircraft now!
To find the other guns, it once again requires some knowledge of where to look. When you are taking the road to Buada Lagoon, take the right-hand turnoff towards the dump (rubbish tip). Drive past the dump, and soon after you will see a road on your left requiring a sharp turn.
As you drive down this “road” (it is mainly grass), you will notice the rusting bodies of vehicles which have been discarded due to age on either side of the way.
After a couple of hundred metres, you will reach a fork in the road. Take the right-hand fork and drive up the hill, following the road. About 20 metres before the end of the “road” (don’t worry, there is plenty of space to turn your car around), there is a gap in the trees a little way off the track.
This route requires a little scrambling, but the path is obvious once you see it and easy to follow. After a few minutes, you will reach the first gun and easily spot the second. These guns are surrounded by greenery and are still in incredible condition. Up here, you will also see the remnants of tunnels it is said once crossed from one side of the island to the other.
Have you explored these locations in Nauru?