Nineteen kilometers out of Port Moresby, Bomana War Cemetery – the biggest in Papua New Guinea – offers a unique journey into Pacific history. Testifying the tragedy and horrors of the Second World War, as well as it’s triumph as soldiers, brother’s in arms as an allied force, were laid to rest together. Today, it’s a quiet and harmonious oasis. A real garden of peace.
« As we stand in this place we are surrounded by the realities of war. We see its cost in human life and suffering – the sacrifice of so many in the pursuit of freedom, justice and peace… »Pronounced for the 75th Anniversary of the New Guinea Campaign at the Bomana War Cemetery, this prayer was dedicated to all the soldiers who fought during the Second World War in Papua New Guinea and it beautifully describes what everyone can feel in the middle of those immaculate burials.
Bomana War Cemetery is not just another tourist attraction, but a peaceful and solemn place.
Cemeteries would not be places dedicated to enjoy a visit. These are not really locations to be ticked on one’s bucket list. But Bomana War Cemetery is an exception, as it is a very special place that testifies to a very special time. It’s a key location for the country and the whole Pacific’s military pastasit opensa window into a history that no other sight can confer. This place tells stories of stoicism and bravery, of Freedom and peace.There are only three war cemeteries in Papua New Guinea – at Port Moresby (Bomana), Rabaul (Bita Paka) and Lae. The Bomana War Cemetery is the biggest and the only one in PNG to contain white marble headstones and a Stone of Rememberance.
Established in 1942 by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), It’s a small piece of Australian in Papua New Guinea. A cemetery created in honor of the fallen Australian and Allied soldiers who fought in the former Territory of Papua and Bougainville Island during the Second World War. It’s touching to see the impressive rotunda perched up the hill, bearing the names of the missing, hundreds of which have never been recognised. Out of the 3,826 soldiers buried here, 703 of them remain unidentified. “A soldier of the 1939-1945 war. Known unto God,” harrowingly reads on hundreds of plaques, laid down over 8 hectares of well maintained and manicured lawns.
Moving solemnity’, are the words to best describe the moment, as walking the grounds of the cemetery is a reflective experience to be had. Rows upon rows of white marble headstones against the green field is calming to the eye, a serene yet somber memorial to the soldiers fallen much too young. This garden of peace is now sharing a message from the past to the future. Never again.
- Location: 14 miles, 19 kilometers out of Port Moresby.
- Open from 8am to 4pm.
- Entrance free.
- While the CWGC doesn’t offer tours, visits can be arranged via organisations found online or through travel agents. Battlefield tours are one such option.
- The cemetery can be visited at the same time as Varirata National Park as it’s along the same highway.
- The ANZAC Day Dawn Service is traditionally held at the three war cemetaries with Bomana War Cemetary touted by many as the place to be on ANZAC Day (25th April).
- Between 7000 to 9000 visitors visit the cemetery every year
- 600 burials from the Kokoda Campaign
- Numbers of burials by nationality : 3353 Australians, 440 British, 6 New Zealanders, 1 Dutch.
- Exact numbers of Papua New Guineans cannot be verified since they were buried as Australians.
- Only one woman is buried there : Sister Marie Craig who was on board of medical transport plane that crashed in Mt Carstenz.