A visit to the holographic show at the tourist information centre explains the town’s war history and the Japanese breakout that occurred there. We are surprised to learn that Italians and Indonesians were also housed at the Cowra POW camp during World War Two. The Italians worked the local farms and became popular with the locals. The Indonesian families had been considered a threat by the Dutch and thus were held on their behalf. The people of Cowra have retained their humanitarian values all these years and Australia’s UN World Peace Bell sits proudly outside the civic centre, the only one in the world not mounted in a capital city.
After another freezing cold night, we wake to a frost. In fact it is so cold in the showers that everything hurts, or is that just age. All rugged up we visit the Japanese Gardens. The cherry trees are bursting with blossom and it is so pretty we could have spent the whole morning there enjoying the peace and solitude. We learn that it was designed by a Japanese landscape architect and has been built so that every waterfall has a different sound. The dew is glistening on the lawns and parrots are chattering in the gum trees it is truly beautiful.
There is little left to see at the POW camp so we pay our respects at the war cemetery not far away. All of the Japanese soldiers killed during wartime on Australian soil are buried here and the people of Cowra have maintained the graves all along. Australian soldiers who died at Cowra are also buried here. There are fresh flowers from Japanese dignitaries on the graves of both nationalities and incense slowly burns.