Cowra Things to Do

  • Cowra Rose garden
    Cowra Rose garden
    by balhannah
  • Cowra Rose garden
    Cowra Rose garden
    by balhannah
  • Cowra Rose garden
    Cowra Rose garden
    by balhannah

Most Recent Things to Do in Cowra

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    INFORMATION CENTRE & P.O.W. THEATRE

    by balhannah Updated Jun 9, 2015

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    I know I always say go to the visitor centre first to pick up free maps, brochures and to buy postcards and souvenirs, to book tours and get help, but here at the Cowra Info centre is an added attraction and a MUST VISIT!

    We had been told by another Caravanner not to miss coming here and seeing the P.O.W. Theatre.

    The P.O.W. Theatre is a the far end of the info centre (entry inside centre.) Its a small theatre that runs a 9 minute hologram recounting the tragic story of the Cowra Breakout in 1944, by a local girl named Clare(an actress from Home & Away Television series). The hologram runs at regular intervals all day, so there never is much of a wait.

    This technology is over a 100years old and is commonly known as "Pepper's Ghost." These days it has been improved a lot and is now known as Spectravision. I wanted to know more about this type of Theatre so I picked up the free brochure at the centre, you can do that too!

    The Theatre has been made as authentic as possible! A small tin hut that is a replica of the Nissan huts found at the Cowra Prisoner of War Camp during World War II is where we sat to watch the hologram. Suddenly the lights dimmed, some introductory music played and then a young "Clare" stepped out of a photo frame, moving between objects on the stage and telling the history of Cowra in the 1940's. She looked like a real person, but she wasn't!
    Over 1,000 Japanese prisoners of war tried to escape from the Prisoner of War camp near Cowra. A terrible result came from it - 4 Australian soldiers and 234 Japanese soldiers were killed, the remaining escapees were captured and imprisoned . This was the largest prison escape in WWII and the bloodiest!

    When the hologram finished I felt flat, sad, and glad that I had come here to this educational Theatre to hear all about what happened at Cowra in an interesting way, not boring at all
    I walked to the stage to see what was there, this part was real. There was a variety of items recovered from the P.O.W. Camp, things like diaries, photos, medicine bottles, a Japanese board game, Rifle and more.
    On the walls of the Theatre, were boards with information on Prisoners from every country who were at the P.O.W. Camp.

    Outside the Theatre and in the Info centre area were more objects and information on the Army at Cowra.

    THIS WAS FANTASTIC AND ENTRY WAS FREE!
    DONATIONS ARE APPRECIATED.

    After viewing this wonderful hologram, you would be hard to please if you didn't like it and didn't give a donation.
    We were more than happy to donate to keep this excellent presentation running!

    A MUST VISIT!

    Perhaps you have heard of Author Bill Bryson. He watched it three times he thought it was so good and wrote about it in his best selling novel "Downunder."

    Open daily from 9am - 5pm except Christmas Day.
    Address: Visitor Information Centre

    Clare in the Hologram P.O.W. Theatre stage P.O.W. Theatre Hologram
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    FLORA & FAUNA AT COWRA

    by balhannah Updated Jun 7, 2015

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    It was late April and it wasn't native flowers I saw, but beautiful Proteas and Leucadendrons at Bellevue Hill Look-out.
    Planted all around the granite rocks at the look-out were many varieties of these plants, all of them flowering profusely, what a picture they made! Both the Protea and Leucadendron are natives of South Africa, but grow very well in certain areas of Australia. They are hardy plants and like our poor quality dry soils found in areas like here, this is why they were thriving.

    Parrots were around the Japanese gardens, feeding on the grass seeds in the Sculpture park. The real pretty ones were the Eastern Rosellas. You may be lucky and spot the Superb Parrot, Swift Parrot, Black-Chinned Honeyeater, Diamond Firetail, Brown Treecreeper, Barking Owl, Speckled Warbler and Hooded Robin. I saw some of these, no photos though as the smaller birds are very flighty!

    For detailed information on the best places in the region to spot local birdlife, pick up a copy of Bird Routes of Cowra brochure from the Cowra Visitor Information Centre.

    For seeing lots and lots of Kangaroos in the wild, head to the Peace Precinct. This is where we saw heaps early in the afternoon at the back of a new housing sub-division. Even though wild, they weren't too worried about us!

    Kangaroos @ Cowra Proteas @ Bellevue Lookout Proteas @ Bellevue Lookout Eastern Rosellas @ Cowra Kangaroos @ Cowra
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    FIND THE RHINO!

    by balhannah Written Jun 7, 2015

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    To help the Taronga Park Zoo and Western Plains zoos, a herd of 125 Rhinos and their small calves in the form of sculptures were painted by artists in 2014. This was done to help raise awareness of the plight facing Rhinos through poaching and habitat loss.

    After being on display, the Rhinos were auctioned off to provide valuable funds for Taronga’s world leading Black Rhino breeding program and conservation projects. Over $460,000 was raised - a great result!

    Now 120 of the Wild Rhino's are scattered along a sculpture trail from the Sydney Harbour foreshore through the Blue Mountains to Dubbo and the Central West region of NSW.

    The Rhino trail for this area take ins the towns of Bathurst, Orange, Cowra and Parkes, finishing at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.

    I found the Cowra Rhino at the Japanese gardens in the area where you can go for free before entering the gift shop.

    To see the Dubbo Rhino, check out this link %[http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/245e1d/]Dubbo Rhino

    Cowra Rhino Cowra Rhino
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    THE JAPANESE GARDENS & CULTURAL CENTRE

    by balhannah Updated Jun 7, 2015

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    I have visited many Japanese gardens in my time, but the one in Cowra still remains in my mind as THE BEST!
    Guess what! I haven't seen it at its best when the Rhododendrons and Azaleas are flowering, nor the Cherry blossom!

    I have been to these gardens twice and enjoyed them both times, was going again but the rain put an end to that! All my photos are film, now I need some nice digital ones!

    Taken from Cowra garden

    "Cowra Japanese Garden and Cultural Centre was established to recognize and develop the relationship between the people of Cowra Shire and the people of Japan, a relationship that has its origins in the Prisoner of War Camp that housed the Japanese P.O.W’s during World War"

    "The design of the garden is a copy of the first Japanese landscape garden (Strolling garden) built by the first Shogun Tokugawa in the 16th century A.D, the Edo period of Japan in what is now called Tokyo (Edo)."

    The garden is actually Japan in miniature. As it's set on a side of a hill, I think this makes it even better for creating a beautiful Japanese garden. As is the case with Japanese gardens, there are always elements in the design, this garden has 6 elements -
    mountain, rocks, mountain waterfalls, mountain lakes, rivers turning into oceans and pine trees.

    It's a garden of 3 kms of track where you need to wander slowing through the mountains of Japan, past many gorgeous waterfalls that flow into mountain lakes and then onwards and into the ocean.
    As you wander around you will come across some interesting pieces, like the Arbor, traditionally used as a resting place or a place to contemplate, the Bonsho Bell and Bonsai house.
    Edo Cottage, a typical cottage of the Edo period, complete with traditional designs, a low ceiling, rice paper blinds straw mats and more! .
    The Tea House, the same as a traditional Tea House in Japan. The Tea House is situated on an island between two waterfalls overlooking the mountain lake, a stunning position, and YES, traditional tea ceremonies are regularly held here.
    Feed the Koi carp from the viewing platforms overlooking the lakes or just watch the fun the children have doing it!

    Not only is the garden excellent, but so is the Cultural centre, so leave enough time to have a look at both.

    The best time to visit is when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom which is usually from late September to late October. life.
    The annual Cherry Blossom Festival held in September.

    The Japanese Garden and Cultural Centre is classified by the National Trust
    "As a place of historical, architectural and cultural significance to be preserved for present and future generations"

    AVAILABLE
    Guided tours of the Garden;
    Regular Garden Talks by directors and staff in Japanese landscape and garden design;
    Audio guides are available for hire at $2.00 per handset

    OPEN every day except Christmas Day between 8.30am to 5.00pm.

    ADMISSION IN 2015
    Adults - $15.00
    Seniors/Pensioners - $13.00 - With valid ID card
    Students - $13.00 - With valid student ID card
    Children - $8.00
    Families - $40.00- Two Adults and school age children all living at the same address.

    A MUST VISIT!

    For lots of photos of the garden
    GOOGLE " images for cowra japanese gardens"

    Cowra Japanese gardens
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    JAPANESE WAR CEMETERY

    by balhannah Updated Jun 7, 2015

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    The Japanese War Cemetery was established in Cowra at the request of the Japanese Government and is the only one in Australia. Established in 1964, it includes the Japanese involved in the Prisoner of War breakout during World War II, as well as other internees and those involved with the battle of Darwin. Thirteen of these are unidentified Japanese airmen and one is an unidentified Japanese soldier.

    The bodies of Cowra’s POWs were originally placed in mass grave.

    The cemetery contains a total of 523 Japanese graves, was funded by the Japanese government and the land, now an official war cemetery, was donated to the Japanese government.

    The Japanese War Cemetery was consecrated in 1964 and is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. A walk around reading the headstones as I went, I was amazed at the old ages of the Japanese.

    In the adjacent general cemetery are graves of the four Australians killed in the breakout.

    Accessible at all times and admission is free

    Entry to the Cemetery Japanese War Cemetery Japanese War Cemetery
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    THE POW CAMP

    by balhannah Written Jun 7, 2015

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    Located in the Peace Precinct and to the north of the Cultural Centre, Sakura Ave lead us to where the remnants of the famous POW camp were. We saw a memorial cairn and a monument to the Italians who took no part in the Japanese escape.

    This camp began operating in June, 1941, specially built to house POWs brought to Australia from overseas.
    Some of the compounds housed an enormous lot of people, like Camp 12, where 4,000 military personnel and detainees lived. It was divided into four areas, where prisoners lived in huts, each with their own store, kitchen, mess huts, showers, shops and vegetable gardens and surrounded by a barb wire fence.
    After the mass breakout of 1104 Japanese POW's, most of the Japanese POWs were transferred from Cowra to another POW camp in Hay, NSW, where the prisoners were held in high security.

    No. 12 Camp stayed in operation until January 1947.

    From the memorial Cairn a walking track winds it way around past the remains of the campsite. Beside each important landmark there is a plaque with information about what your looking at. Along Sakura Avenue is a large concrete slab by the roadside which marks the site of the camp Gaol. Near this slab is an old stone military building used as a storage shed and the remains of the camp headquarters.

    Pick-up a guiding map and pamphlet from the visitors' centre. Make sure you watch the hologram at the centre, it is excellent!

    Peace Precinct POW camp remains @ Cowra
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    BELLEVUE HILL LOOKOUT & FAUNA RESERVE.

    by balhannah Updated Jun 6, 2015

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    If you have the chance, come to Bellevue Hill Lookout and Fauna Reserve. The look-out was excellent, as for fauna, I didn't see any, perhaps later in the day......It's adjacent to the lookout, look for the walking track!

    The views are over the town of Cowra and the pretty Lachlan valley of which the Lachlan River flows and through Cowra.
    There is a roomy car-park from where there are great views. If you feel like it, there is a short walk around some big boulders where you obtain views of the other side of town and over the Racecourse. You can go higher up, for nearly a 360° view.

    A picnic table and park bench is at the look-out. If you want to make it a nice days outing, I would suggest stopping on the way to the look-out where there is a very nice park with heaps of picnic tables and seating, free bbq's free toilets and plenty of off road parking. Only a short walk to the look-outl

    WORTH COMING!

    Bellevue Look-out Bellevue Look-out Bellevue Look-out Bellevue Look-out Bellevue Look-out
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    COWRA PEACE PRECINCT

    by balhannah Written Jun 6, 2015

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    The Cowra Peace Precinct we drove around, probably the best way as it covers quite an area. For those of you who are fitter, a walking/cycling trail wends its way around the area.
    It is in the area where you will find the Guard tower, remains of buildings during from WWII, new sculptures linking Japan with Cowra, the beautiful Japanese gardens and much more!

    We pulled up near the Japanese gardens to have lunch, then I had a look at the sculptures in the park and the Peace Pathway.
    The idea of the Peace Pathway, is for visitors to buy individual paving stones and have their names or messages engraved on them. Everybody can see their message on this pathway which promotes peace for our future generations.

    I think more outdoor sculptures will be continually added to this Sculpture Park.

    Sculpture park Peace Pathway
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    ST. RAPHAEL'S CATHOLIC CHURCH

    by balhannah Written Jun 6, 2015

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    There has been three St. Raphael's Churches standing here, I think this may just be the last new one for quite a while!

    The foundation stone was made up of stones from the previous Church. In 1938, work began on a Church with Romanesque architecture, Spanish tiles and lovely façade.

    The 86 foot tall Tower contains a bell nearly 200 years old with this inscription “J. Maher, Bathurst, 1817.”

    A large rose window is in the centre along with window slits and three double doors of polished silky oak framed between folds of moulded brick and beautifully carved Sydney Sandstone.
    The emblems above the doors are a Cross, Anchor and Heart, to symbolise the three theological virtues – Faith, Hope and Charity.

    I wasn't able to visit the inside - locked doors!

    Saturday Vigil ~ 6.00pm
    Sunday ~ 8.00am

    St. Raphael's Church Faith, Hope & Charity St. Raphael's Church
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    REID SMITH & CO. BUILDING

    by balhannah Written Jun 6, 2015

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    Located on the corner of Macquarie and Kendal streets is another lovely building. This is the Reid Smith building from 1924. Even though it's not that old, it has nice architecture and is painted - pink!

    Reid Smith store was where you came to buy anything and everything, this store stocked the works! It was good to read that during the Depression years, Reid Smith & Co. arranged with other Departmental stores in Cowra to share the trade, this way everybody was a winner!

    It worked like this. For one month a farmer would buy from one store, then the next month from another and so on. By doing this the store was able to employ all the staff and for many to survive those hard Depression years.

    The store is now a modern shopping Plaza.

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    FAGAN BUILDINGS

    by balhannah Written Jun 6, 2015

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    The photo on the information plaque showed a very busy street full of people and horse and drays in 1916. No wonder many people were here as they had come to listen to Australian Prime Minister, "Billy Hughes" who was addressing the crowd on the 1916 Conscription Referendum!

    Looking at the photo and at the building I could see the beautiful filigree lace-work verandahs have been removed, or were they destroyed by the major fire of 1909, this is more likely the case. Nearly all the town's water was used to extinguish the fire!
    It was an elegant building in the early 1900's, not so much today although the parapet has been replaced.
    Today, the building is a Betta Electrical store.

    Fagan Building
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    SQUIRE PARK

    by balhannah Written Jun 6, 2015

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    As I walked along Kendal street, I found Squire Park, a small area of green squashed between the buildings, a little oasis in the main street! This Community Rest area has Free Toilets that are open 24hours. There's a shelter to eat your lunch under and some benches.

    What I didn't notice on may way in, but I did on the way out, was the sculpture on the wall as I entered the park from the Courthouse end of Kendal Street.

    This is a Memorial to the four Australians killed in the Cowra Breakout.

    On 5 August 1944, Japanese Prisoners of War (POWs) tried to escape from their detention camp in Cowra. It was not successful with many Japanese being killed or wounded.
    Four Australians were killed. Privates Benjamin Gower Hardy, Ralph Jones and Charles Henry Shepherd were killed in the breakout. Lieutenant Harry Doncaster was killed when ambushed during the recapture of the prisoners. Hardy and Jones were posthumously awarded the George Cross

    Squire park memorial
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    COWRA COURTHOUSE

    by balhannah Written Jun 6, 2015

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    Lets step back in time to the year 1880, when the Hon. EA Baker arrived by Mail Coach to perform the opening ceremony of the Courthouse in-front of a large crowd of people.
    Even though the building was opened in 1880, there wasn't any furniture, so remained unused until April 1881. In 1882 three more rooms were added making this quite a large Courthouse!

    In the lawned area of the Courthouse is a view dial where you can see the directions of towns and locations in the area.
    Locals living in and around Cowra can now get regular free legal advice at a clinic operating from the court house, a good idea!

    Cowra court house is a historical building in old-federation style, the only building in Cowra classified by the National Trust.

    Monday - Friday 9 - 4pm

    Cowra Courthouse Cowra Courthouse & view dial
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    HISTORIC BUILDINGS ALONG KENDAL STREET

    by balhannah Written Jun 6, 2015

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    My heritage walk takes me for a walk along Kendal street, the main street and quite a long one.

    1 * My first historic building was the UNITING CHURCH, built on the land granted to them in 1854.
    The foundation stone was laid in 1889 and 6 months later the church was opened. This is the same Church that I saw on my walk. Evidently, over the years not much has changed. In 1950, the sanctuary was remodelled as a memorial to those who served in World War and to the pioneers of Methodism in Cowra. The porch was added in 1989.

    The church is not open to view the interior.

    2 * Still on the same side of the street, my next stop is the ILFRACOMBE RESIDENCE.
    This is your chance to see what a private residence looked like back in 1879. At one stage it was used as a Doctor's surgery, today the interior has been restored and it's used as a Restaurant & coffee house.
    127 Kendal St, Cowra. Phone: 0263 411 511.

    3 * Across the road is a newer ST. JOHN'S ANGLICAN CHURCH, built in 1955.
    The original Anglican Church was built in 1879.
    Not open to the public.
    Friday - 9:30am Holy Communion
    Saturday - 6:00pm Holy Communion
    Sunday - 9:00am Holy Communion

    Uniting church Ilfracombe restaurant & coffee house Anglican church
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    A LIFE OF RECONCILIATION

    by balhannah Updated Jun 6, 2015

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    "A Life of Reconciliation" is a sculpture on the wall near the World Peace Bell.

    You could quite easily miss it!

    I found the true story quite interesting. It is about Father Tony Glynn (1926–1994) who worked for 42 years at the "Mission of Reconciliation" established by Father Lionel Marsden. Marsden was once a prisoner of war Chaplain on the Burma-Thai Railroad.
    Both of these Australian men did a wonderful job in helping to heal the wounds of war and reconciliation in Japan.

    A war time tragedy at Cowra has turned into a peacetime relationship with Japan.

    Father Tony Glynn was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), a Member of the Order of Australia (AO), and also received the Order of the Rising Sun from the Japanese Emperor Before his death, he was made an honorary citizen of Nara.

    Father Tony Flynn
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