During World War II, Cowra was the site of an internment camp for Japanese prisoners of war. On 5 August 1944 the POWs staged a mass breakout; nearly half were killed. After the war however, the Australian Returned Servicemen’s League assumed responsibility not only for the graves of the four Australians killed in the breakout, but for the Japanese section of the cemetery. In 1960 the Japanese government had their war dead from around Australia re-interned at Cowra. As a consequence, many Japanese people visit Cowra, in addition to local tourists.
NSW Trainlink Regional (phone 132 232) has two bus services to Cowra every day. The first meets the early morning XPT train from Sydney at Bathurst at 10:55AM, arriving Cowra at 12:40PM, the second meets the early afternoon NSW Trainlink Intercity trains from Sydney at Lithgow at 7:20PM, and arrives Cowra at 9:55PM. Both require seats be reserved before travel.
Cowra's nearest airports offering scheduled commercial flights are Orange, Parkes and Bathurst which offer daily services to Sydney. There is car hire at each of those airports.
Canberra is approximately 2 hours south of Cowra and is a major airport with regular interstate services.
Cowra airport is an paved airport just on the outskirts of town. It would be a straightforward charter from any of the nearby airports. You can get a taxi or walk into town in around 45 minutes from the airport.
- 1 Cowra Japanese Garden, Binni Creek Road, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 8:30AM to 5PM every day. The Japanese Gardens were created by Japanese garden architect Ken Nakajima as a kaiyū-shiki, a strolling garden. The garden symbolises reconciliation and peace after World War II, and after the local conflict. $9.50 adults, $5 children, $7.50 concession.
- 2 POW Camp Site, Sakura Avenue, ☏ . All hours. Free.
- 3 Japanese and Australian War Cemeteries, Doncaster Drive, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. All hours. The Japanese War Cemetery, ceded to the Japan in 1963, is the only Japanese war cemetery in Australia. It contains the graves of POWs who died in the breakout, as well as other Japanese POWs and soldiers who died in the battle of Darwin. The Australian cemetery contains the graves of the four Australians who died in the breakout, together with Australian soldiers who died training in the area. Free.
- 4 Lachlan Valley Railway Society, 3 Campbell St, ☏ . 9AM-5PM. This group is trying to restore a passenger train for tourist use but you can walk around the old train station to see some of the carriages and locos that they're restoring. The roundhouse is particularly impressive.
- POW Hologram (Cowra Visitor Information Centre), Olympic Park, Mid-Western Highway (Junction of the Young, Boorowa and Grenfell Roads), ☏ . 9AM-5PM. Come and see Clare, the amazing hologram in the POW Theatre. Clare tells the story of the Cowra Breakout from a local girls perspective using the amazing technology of the hologram, or "Peppers Ghost". The POW Theatre is in the Cowra Visitor Information Centre. Donation.
- Cowra Services Club, 101 Brisbane St, ☏ .
Cowra is home to some of the most exceptional wine tasting experiences in NSW. From garage cellar doors to distinct historical buildings and vineyard art galleries. The original variety to be grown in Cowra in the 1970s was the Chardonnay grape. This classic and flavoursome Chardonnay established Cowra as a quality grape growing region. Soon after, Shiraz, Semillon and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties were planted. The region’s enterprising vignerons have produced some excellent wines from different varieties such as Sangiovese, Mourvedre and Tempranillo.
Today, there are over 40 vineyards dotted around the Cowra, Billimari and Canowindra area which make up the Cowra Wine Region. Many of them offer boutique cellar door tastings, the chance to chat to local vignerons, see winemakers at work and sample some of Australia’s most promising wines.
Continue along the mid-western highway to Grenfell.