Japanese Garden, Evolving Images / Tourism New South Wales

Population 8426

Cowra is nestled in the Lachlan Valley, where you can enjoy local food and wine. The peaceful air of this town on the Lachlan River belies its dramatic history. The Cowra Breakout was an infamous World War II incident in Australia when 1000 Japanese POWs staged a mass breakout that was the biggest in British and Australian war history. While it remains what Cowra is most famous for, the town has moved forward.

Visitor Information

Olympic Park, cnr Mid Western and Olympic hwys; (02) 6342 4333 or 1800 266 173

Nearby national parks

  • Blue Mountains National Park

    Blue Mountains National Park presents an astounding and unique landscape to its millions of visitors. The terrain ripples and folds, a world...more

  • Kanangra–Boyd National Park

    Kanangra–Boyd National Park’s majestic landscape of wild rivers and waterfalls, mountainous terrain and deep gorges is rimmed by...more

  • Wollemi National Park

    Wollemi National Park, the second largest national park in the state and its largest wilderness area, is a primeval landscape of precipitous...more

Nearby towns

  • Canowindra

    Canowindra, meaning 'home' in the Wiradjuri language, is in the Lachlan Valley with sandstone mountains to the west and the old volcano,...more

  • Grenfell

    Nestled at the foot of the Weddin Mountains, Grenfell is best known as the birthplace of writer Henry Lawson. The wealth appropriated during...more

  • Eugowra

    Situated on the rich basin of the Lachlan River, Eugowra is a tiny country town known for its crafts. Nearby on the Orange–Forbes road, the...more

In Town

Australia's World Peace Bell Each country has only one peace bell and it is normally located in the nation's capital, but Cowra was awarded Australia's Peace Bell owing to local efforts for peace. The bell is a replica of the United Nations World Peace Bell in New York City and was made by melting down coins donated from 103 member countries of the United Nations. It is rung each year during the Festival of International Understanding. Darling St.

Japanese Garden This garden, opened in 1979, is complete with a cultural centre, a traditional teahouse, a bonsai house and a pottery. The garden itself represents the landscape of Japan, with mountain, river and sea re-created. Sakura Ave, lined with cherry trees that blossom in spring, leads to the site of the POW camp and to the Australian and Japanese cemeteries. The camp includes the original foundations and replica guardtower, with photo displays and signage; audio tours available. Off Binni Creek Rd; (02) 6341 2233.

Olympic Park: information centre with a fascinating interpretive POW display and theatre. Also here is Cowra Rose Garden with over 1000 rose bushes in over 100 varieties; Mid Western Hwy.

Cowra–Italy Friendship Monument: in recognition of Italians who died in WW II (Italian POWs interned at Cowra formed a strong friendship with the town); Kendal St.

Lachlan Valley Railway Museum: displays and train rides; Campbell St.

Cowra Mill Winery: winery in former flour mill (1861) with cellar-door tastings and restaurant; Vaux St; (02) 6341 4141.

Aboriginal murals: by local artist Kym Freeman on pylons of bridge over the Lachlan River.

Cowra Heritage Walk: Federation, colonial and Victorian buildings including the town's first hotel and oldest home; map from visitor centre.


Cowra wine region The warm conditions here a perfect for chardonnay, the region's main wine. Read more.

Cowra museums: war, rail and rural museums all in one complex; Sydney Rd; 5 km E.

Darby Falls Observatory: one of the largest telescopes accessible to the public. Check opening times; (02) 6345 1900 or 0417 461 162; Observatory Rd; 25 km SE.


National Park: known for its wildflowers, rock ledges, waterfalls, bushwalks and picnics; 27 km W.

Lake Wyangala and Grabine Lakeside State Park: ideal for watersports and fishing; 40 km SE.

Self-guide drives: through countryside including a wine-lovers' drive; brochure from visitor centre. 

Cafes & restaurants around town


Tucked away in the heart of regional Australia, Neila at Cowra serves spectacular contemporary cuisine, focusing on great local produce and revealing the influences of the owners’ Chinese and Greek heritage. The... Find out more

Campsites around town

Wallaby camping area 25 km

Take a walk along the Wallaby Walking Track (4 km, 1 hr, medium difficulty) and you may catch a glimpse of a red-necked wallaby or swamp wallaby. Alternatively, sneak out after dark with a torch and see if you can catch... Find out more

Wyangala Waters camping area 28 km

This is a sprawling space on the shores of Wyangala Dam, offering powered and unpowered tent and caravan sites, bungalows, cabins, cottages and houseboats. Activities include waterskiing, sailing and fishing – the... Find out more

Grabine Lakeside State Park camping area 33 km

Grabine Lakeside State Park is on the north-eastern banks of the Wyangala Dam, 75 km north-west of Crookwell along the Crookwell–Bathurst Rd, or 120 km from Goulburn along Bigga Rd. The park offers endless boating,... Find out more

Bakers Shaft Reserve 41 km

This camping area is around 20 km west of the historic town of Carcoar. Follow the Mid-western Hwy through Mandurama, then turn north for Burnt Yards; take Bakers Rd then Junction Park Rd. This is 2WD, dry-weather access... Find out more

Canobolas Forest Park 50 km

This is a peaceful picnicking and camping area surrounded by a 60-year-old pine forest. There are picnic tables, walking tracks and trout in the creek nearby. It’s 20 km south of Orange via Cadia Rd then Four Mile... Find out more

Carcoar Dam camping area 51 km

Carcoar is a small and picturesque town, 12 km south-west of Blayney. On the National Heritage list for being the third oldest settled village west of the Blue Mountains, it certainly has a ye olde feel to it. The dam is... Find out more

Terarra Creek camping area 51 km

To get to this sole camping area in the park, follow the Escort Way from Eugowra and keep an eye out for a NPWS sign pointing to a dirt road. The campground is a little under 5 km from the park entrance. The road is 2WD,... Find out more

Trunkey Creek Showground 58 km

Trunkey Creek is a little town about 13 km from Abercrombie Caves. Once a thriving goldmining village, it has retained some mud huts, abandoned mineshafts and other traces of its heyday. The showground is off Arthur St... Find out more

Federal Falls camping area 60 km

The road in to Federal Falls camping area isn’t suitable for caravans or camper trailers, although 2WD vehicles are permitted. To get here, follow Pinnacle Rd from Orange and turn onto Towac Rd. There are a number... Find out more

Abercrombie Caves camping area 62 km

This is a fabulous set-up on the banks of beautiful Grove Creek, complete with a camp kitchen and dining room, 3 amenities blocks with hot showers, a laundry and kiosk. To get here, take the Trunkey Creek–Goulburn... Find out more

Caravan parks around town

Colour City Caravan Park 73 km

This is a council park with good basic facilities in a quiet, off-highway position, about 2 km north of the city centre, adjoining the showgrounds. It is good value at a budget price. Bookings are recommended all year... Find out more

Apex Riverside Tourist Park 79 km

The park is about 3 km from the town centre on a picturesque bend of the Lachlan River, which some sites overlook. It is managed on behalf of Apex and is of good quality.... Find out more

BIG4 Forbes Holiday Park 79 km

This is a very neat owner-operated park, about 2 km from the centre of town on Cowra Road. The park caters predominantly for tourists and has good amenities and most facilities. Bookings are required in peak periods.... Find out more

Forbes River Meadows Caravan Park 81 km

Located about 2 km south of Forbes along the highway, this owner-operated park is a convenient and ideal overnight stop. It has shady trees, large expanses of lawn and spotless amenities. We sometimes stay here when... Find out more

Hotels, motels & B&Bs around town

Country Gardens Motor Inn

The first thing guests notice about this four-star motel is the space. The light, spacious motel rooms are huge, with larger than normal beds ensuring weary travellers a fantastic night’s sleep. Deluxe queen rooms,... Find out more

Old Milburn Schoolhouse B&B

The Old Milburn Schoolhouse is an award-winning, warm and friendly establishment with two guest rooms, a guest lounge and dining rooms. The food served here is sublime; the owners follow the ‘slow food’... Find out more

Tinnies at Back Creek Vineyard

Tinnies is a self-contained, open-plan cottage 7 kilometres from the heart of Cowra. Encircled by vineyards, this secluded haven promises a relaxing stay while being close to the local attractions. The accommodation has... Find out more

Rest areas around town

Cowra park area 1 km

At Cowra

Opposite the information centre.

Cowra rest area 1 km

At Cowra

Just off the highway on the east side of town at Ramage Park.

Tyagong Creek rest area 23 km

31km E of Grenfell (R) or 24km W of Cowra (L)

Adjacent to the highway among a few trees.

Fullers Lane rest area 51 km

57km NE of Cowra (R) or 48km SW of Bathurst (L)

Just off the highway under a few trees with good views of the surrounding countryside.

Carcoar Dam camping area 51 km

T/O 59km NE of Cowra (R) or 46km SW of Bathurst (L)

On the shores of the dam 2km south of the highway.

Grenfell rest area 51 km

At Grenfell

Just off the highway on the south side of town.

Bogolong Rest Area 56 km

95 km E of West Wyalong (L) or 9 km W of Grenfell (R)

Large area just off the highway. Limited shade.

Blayney park area 61 km

At Blayney

Adjacent to the highway on the west side of town.

Weddin View rest area 69 km

82km E of West Wyalong (L) or 22km W of Grenfell (R)

Adjacent to the highway under a few trees.

Ben Halls Cave camping area 69 km

T/O 81km E of West Wyalong (R) or 23km W of Grenfell (L)

Secluded bush setting in Weddin Mountains National Park 13km south-west of the highway via Lynchs Rd (unsealed) and Nowlands Rd (partly unsealed).

Macquarie Wood camping area 74 km

T/O 29km W of Bathurst (R) or 27km E of Orange (L)

Open grassed area among trees, 2km (unsealed) north of the highway via Cashens La.

The Rocks rest area 78 km

21km W of Bathurst (R) or 35km E of Orange (L)

Adjacent to the highway among a few trees.

Gamboola rest area 80 km

17km NW of Orange (L) or 17km SE of Molong (R)

Just off the highway among some trees.

Kingsley Fairborough park area 81 km

29km NW of Orange (R) or 5km SE of Molong (L)

Just off the highway under shady trees.

Forbes rest area 81 km

At Forbes

On the riverbank 500m north-west of the highway via Junction St. For 48-hour stays only.

Molong park area 83 km

At Molong

Just off the highway on the banks of Molong Creek.

Billabong Creek rest area 87 km

23km N of Forbes (R) or 10km S of Parkes (L)

Small area just off the highway.

What's on around town

Farmers market: showgrounds; 3rd Sat each month.

Festival of International Understanding: Mar.

Picnic Races: July. Cowra Wine Show: July.

Sakura Matsuri: cherry blossom festival; Sept/Oct.

Cowra Cork and Fork: Nov.

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