Once again we stuck to the back roads, except for about 200 meters on the Mitchell Highway. Quite an enjoyable ride.
We arrived in Gooloogong before lunch time. Gooloogong provides camping facilities for free. There is a donation box, but no request to donate. We managed to get a good spot that is in the shade in the evening.
The town of Cowra is nearby and Lesley knew the significant role Cowra played in the Second World War as a prisoner of war and internment camp. We decided to go for a run without the caravan to see whether we could find anything of this history.
On arrival in Cowra I was surprised how big a town this is. I was impressed by all the flowers (mainly roses) that could be seen everywhere. Certainly the town is not hiding its history during the Second World War. Signs pointed to Japanese Gardens, POW camp, War Cemetery and Japanese Cemetery. Our first stop was at the Japanese Cemetery. The Japanese Cemetery is in a very peaceful setting.
There were many Japanese POW and interns imprisoned in Cowra. On the 5th of August 1944 the Japanese staged a breakout and more than 200 Japanese were either killed or committed suicide during the outbreak. The Japanese Cemetery not only contains graves of these Japanese, but all Japanese who died during the Second World War in Australia were brought to Cowra and are buried here. The rows of graves with a to-date of 5th of August 1944 are quite moving.
A map shows the POW camp. You may notice, there are other nationalities here. Surprisingly enough, POWs from all over the world were brought here such as Italians captured in North Africa.
The buildings comprising the POW Camp no longer stand – however the foundations can still be seen and give you an impression of the size of the camp. Many of the buildings in the Japanese sector were set alight when the breakout was staged.
The visit to Cowra was quite emotional for me. I experienced Japanese hospitality in the sixties when I visited Japan and lived with a family for several weeks. Somehow it is difficult to understand how a war can change the attitude of people. I can understand that Prisoners Of War needed to be contained, however I find it difficult to understand why civilians had to be interned just because of their nationality. On the other hand I feel for the Australians that had to safeguard this camp and gave their lives for this cause.