There was quite a lot to see in Cowra so I thought it warranted a blog of it’s own.
With a population of just under 10,000 people it is a busy town and the Lachlan river runs right through the heart of the town. Those that I spoke to gave me the impression of a friendly town and probably a good town to live in.
The town is probably best known for the Cowra Breakout when nearly 400 Japanese attempted a mass escape from the POW Camp on the outskirts of the town. Known as Camp No 12, it was overcrowded at the time with not only Japanese interns but also Italians, Germans and Indonesians. 243 Japanese died along with 3 Australians. Many more Japanese were injured. It was dishonourable for a Japanese soldier to surrender so the breakout was in effect a mass suicide pact. By dying “in battle” they believed they and their families would “save face”.
There is little left at the POW Campsite apart from concrete from the floor of certain buildings. All the prisoner accomodation that wasn’t burnt at the time of the breakout was sold off after the war in 1947. It is still an eerie feeling being there and walking around the site. The nearby War Cemetery is also a surreal feeling. The Japanese War Cemetery is the only one if it’s kind in the world.
The Japanese Gardens are a stark contrast to the POW Camp and the Cemetery . They are a place of beauty and tranquility and a stark reminder that peace will always be the preferred option to war.
I also had a look at the Railway Precinct and museum. It was interesting in itself but could do with a lot of work to bring it up to “tourist standard”. I know these types of places are run pretty much entirely by volunteers. It was entry “by donation” so I put my $5 into the donation box but walking around felt my time could be better spent.
Cowra as a town has a lot to offer though it would get pretty cold in the middle of winter. One of the best exhibits is at the Visitors Information Centre. The Hologram Theatre there where “Claire” a local girl tells the story of the Cowra Breakout is well worth stopping for. It is only a 9 minute “film” but that and the accompanying information is excellent. Well done to the Visitors Information Centre.
Cowra is also a popular wine producing area though not being a wine connoisseur I didn’t visit any of the local wineries.