Visit the site of the biggest prisoner of war breakout in modern military history in Cowra, a beautiful country town with fascinating military history and wonderful cultural heritage. Enjoy heritage walks, taste fine local wines and see lovingly restored steam trains.
On the banks of the beautiful Lachlan River, Cowra will intrigue and excite with its historical buildings, military history, tranquil gardens, fine wines and cultural heritage. The town is a little over four hours’ drive west of Sydney in the verdant Lachlan Valley, a fertile farming area.
Cowra was the site of the largest prisoner of war breakout in modern military history, when more than a thousand Japanese prisoners staged a mass breakout in August 1944. You can visit the Prisoner of War Camp Site and walk among the ruins. A free holographic presentation of the breakout is at the small POW Theatre in the Cowra Visitor Information Centre, which has a scale model of the camp.
Cowra has since forged a remarkable friendship with Japan, and you can see many tributes to this special relationship around town, including the Japanese and Australian War Cemeteries and Cowra Japanese Garden and Cultural Centre. Sakura Matsuri, the annual cherry blossom festival in Cowra, celebrates the arrival of spring with traditional Japanese cultural performances.
A great way to experience the heritage buildings in the town’s centre is on the self-guided Cowra Heritage Walk. Many of the buildings were constructed after gold fever swept the Cowra region in the 19th century. As you explore the heritage, visit the Cowra Regional Art Gallery and Australia’s World Peace Bell. The Lachlan Valley Railway features steam trains and a roundhouse.
You’ll find plenty of accommodation options, and check out the events calendar for festivals, shows and markets. Food and wine are drawcards of the Cowra wine region. The annual Cowra Wine Show Public Tasting and the quarterly Harvest in the Park Market are both popular events. You can savour local wines at the Oxley Wine Bar and take a wine tour with Ideal Tours.