Main Births etc

New South Wales, Australia

Kendal Street, the Main street of Cowra

Cowra is located in New South Wales
Population: 10,002 [1]
Established: 1849
Postcode: 2794
Coordinates: 33°50′S 148°41′E / -33.833, 148.683Coordinates: 33°50′S 148°41′E / -33.833, 148.683
Elevation: 310 m (1,017 ft)
LGA: Cowra Shire
County: Forbes, Bathurst
State District: Burrinjuck
Federal Division: Hume
Mean Max Temp Mean Min Temp Annual Rainfall
23.0 °C
73 °F
8.3 °C
47 °F
598.3 mm
23.6 in

Cowra is a town in the Central West region of New South Wales, Australia in the Cowra Shire. It is located on the Mid-Western Highway, 317 kilometres west of Sydney on the banks of the Lachlan River at an altitude of 310 metres above sea level. At the 2011 census Cowra had a population of 10,002 people.


The area was originally inhabited by the Wiradjuri people. The first explorer, George Wilson Evans, entered the Lachlan Valley in 1815. He named the area the Oxley Plains after his superior the surveyor-general, John Oxley. In 1817 he deemed the area "unfit for settlement". A military depot was established not long after at Soldiers Flat near present day Billimari. Arthur Ranken and James Sloan, from Bathurst, were amongst the first white settlers on the Lachlan. They moved to the area in 1831.

The township of "Coura Rocks" had its beginnings in 1844. Around 1847, the township site became known as Cowra, and in 1849, was proclaimed a village.[6]

The origin of the town's name is unclear.[7] Sources claim that the name is aboriginal for "rocks",[8] although the local Wiradjuri language has no words for "rocks".[7]

In the 1850s many gold prospectors passed through headed for gold fields at Lambing Flat (Young) and Grenfell. The first school was established in 1857. The first bridge over the Lachlan River was built in 1870. Gold was discovered at Mount McDonald in the 1880s. The rail head, from Sydney, reached Cowra in 1886. Local government was granted in 1888. The first telephone exchange was established in 1901. The town water supply was established in 1909, the gasworks in 1912 and town supplied electricity was introduced in 1924.

Cowra hosts an annual Festival of International Understanding, featuring street stalls, parades and events showcasing a particular foreign culture.[9]

The Cowra breakout[]

During World War II Cowra was the site of a prisoner of war (POW) camp. Most of the detainees were captured Japanese and Italian military personnel, On 5 August 1944, at least 545 Japanese POWs attempted a mass breakout from the camp. Simultaneously, other Japanese prisoners committed suicide, or were killed by their countrymen, inside the camp.

The actions of the POWs in storming machine gun posts, armed only with improvised weapons, showed what Prime Minister John Curtin described as a "suicidal disregard of life", and had no chance of success.

During the breakout and subsequent recapture of POWs, four Australian guards and 231 Japanese died, and 108 prisoners were wounded. The dead Japanese were buried in Cowra in the specially created Japanese War Cemetery. This is the only such cemetery in Australia, and also holds some of the dead from the WWII air raids on Darwin.

An Avenue of Honour also commemorates those who died in World War I.


Cowra has a temperate climate, with maximum temperatures ranging from 32 °C (90 °F) in summer to 14 °C (57 °F) in winter, while minimums range from 16 °C (61 °F) to 2 °C (36 °F). Cowra sits on the border zone between the cool, wet highlands of the Great Dividing Range and the hot, dry plains of Western New South Wales. As a result, Cowra experiences climate characteristics of both regions, with cold sub-zero temperatures, frequent frost and occasional snow in winter, and frequent 40+ °C temperatures in summer. Other towns that experiecne this 'border' climate are Gunnedah and Mudgee further north, Yass and Gundagai further south, Wangaratta in Victoria and Dalby in Queensland.

Rainfall is mild and distributed fairly evenly all year round, however it slightly peaks in summer with thunderstorms and again in winter with cold fronts. The average annual rainfall is 598.3 mm (24 in), while Cowra's wettest month on record was January 1984, with 371.0 mm (15 in) recorded. Extreme temperatures have ranged from 46.6 °C (116 °F) to −8 °C (18 °F).[10]

Climate data for Cowra Airport (1966-2011)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 46.6
Average high °C (°F) 32.2
Average low °C (°F) 15.6
Record low °C (°F) 5.0
Rainfall mm (inches) 99.6
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.2mm) 6.5 5.7 5.8 5.5 7.6 9.4 11.0 10.2 9.1 8.2 7.8 6.5 93.3
Source: Bureau of Meteorology[10]


Primary Schools
  • Cowra Public
  • Mayan Public School
  • Holman Place Public School
  • St Raphaels Central School (K-6)
Secondary Schools
  • Cowra High School (7–12)
  • St Raphaels Central School (7–10)

Cowra also has a campus of the Western Institute of TAFE.


Broadcast radio from the following radio stations can be received in Cowra

  • Bogan FM 99.5 FM
  • Bogan FM 105.9 FM
  • 2GZ FM 105.1 FM
  • ABC Classic FM 102.7 FM
  • ABC Radio National 104.3 FM
  • Triple J (2JJJ) 101.9 FM
  • ABC Local Radio 549 AM

Broadcast television from the ABC, SBS and affiliates of the Nine, Seven and Ten networks can be received in and nearby Cowra.

Subscription television service Austar is available in Cowra and the surrounding region via satellite and MMDS transmission. Reception is via a dole dish.

The local newspaper is the Cowra Guardian


Viticulture is a major industry in the Cowra area. The first vineyards were planted in the 1970s and were predominantly Chardonnay. Since this time, a range of varieties have had success, including Shiraz and Verdelho.[11]

Vineyards of the Cowra area
  • Squashed Frog
  • Kalari
  • Spring Ridge
  • Hamiltons Bluff
  • Toms Waterhole
  • Wallington Wines (Organic)
  • Rosnay (Organic)
  • River Park
  • Gardners Ground
  • Pig in the House (Organic)
  • Cowra Estate

Japanese War Cemetery and Garden[]

The Japanese War Cemetery holding the dead from the Cowra Breakout was tended to after WWII by members of the Cowra RSL and ceded to Japan in 1963. In 1971 the Cowra Tourism Development decided to celebrate this link to Japan, and proposed a Japanese Garden for the town. The Japanese government agreed to support this development as a sign of thanks for the respectful treatment of their war dead; the development also received funding from the Australian government and private entities.

The garden was designed by Ken Nakajima (1914–2000), a world-renowned designer of Japanese gardens at the time. The first stage was opened in 1979, with a second stage opened in 1986.

The gardens were designed in the style of the Edo period and are a kaiyū-shiki or strolling garden. They are designed to show all of the landscape types of Japan. At five hectares (12 acres), the Cowra Japanese Garden is the largest Japanese garden in the Southern Hemisphere. An annual Sakura Matsuri (cherry blossom festival) is a major event in Cowra's tourism calendar and is held in the gardens during September. The festival celebrates the birth of spring. It attracts performers from across Australia and around the world. Locals, Australian and International visitors alike have the opportunity to experience traditional elements of Japanese culture. Sakura at the Cowra Japanese Garden is celebrated annually when the cherry blossoms are at their peak. In 2011 the main festival date was held on Saturday, 24 September.

Japanese lake with stone lantern  
Looking across the lake to the teahouse  
Lower lake with spring blossoms  
Big bird rests on a stone lantern in the upper lake  
Panoramic view from the Symbolic Mountain at the Japanese Gardens.  

Sporting clubs[]

  • Cowra Eagles are a rugby union team playing in the Central West Rugby Union competition.
  • Cowra Magpies are a rugby league team playing in the Group 10 competition.
  • Cowra Blues are an Australian rules football team playing in the Central West AFL competition.
  • Cowra Eagles are a soccer club playing in the Bathurst District Soccer Senior Mens (1st Grade) competition.
  • Cowra (Under 10s) Flaming Galahs
  • Cowra (Under 16's) Squashed Frogs

Recent events[]

April 1987: Two Cowra girls are bludgeoned to death with an axe.[1]

April 2006: the local abattoir retrenched 29 workers and rehired them the next day at a lower rate. This was just days after the Federal Government's industrial relations reforms, WorkChoices, were put in place, and the action attracted national media attention as one of the first employer actions under this new legislation. The workers were later reinstated at the old rate after pressure from all sides of Australian politics and media.[12] This abattoir later closed down in August 2006. It was reopened in March 2007 and is now operated by Breakout River Meats and produces beef, lamb, pork, goat, alpaca and horse meat.

April 2007: Cowra hosted Triple J's One Night Stand Concert with Silverchair leading a lineup of Behind Crimson Eyes, Midnight Juggernauts, and Funktrust, supported by Unearthed competition winners Flatline Drummer.

June 2008: A local man went on a frenzy and killed his wife and grandchildren.[13]

July 2011: A Cowra man was arrested in one of Australia's most notable hacking incidents.[14]

Feb 2012: A local butcher bludgeoned his wife to death with a meat cleaver then tries to commit suicide.[15] He was later acquitted of murder due to mental illness.[16]

On 12 March 2013, the local cannery went into administration leaving around 80 people unemployed and very little chance of them or suppliers being paid out.[17]


Accommodation in the town includes:

  • Imperial Hotel on the main street
  • Cowra Van Park, riverside caravan park close to the CBD


  1. ^ "ABS Census Data 2011". Australian Bureau Of Statistics. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  2. ^ "Great Circle Distance between ORANGE and COWRA". Geosciences Australia website. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 16 August 2011. 
  3. ^ "Great Circle Distance between BATHURST and COWRA". Geosciences Australia website. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 16 August 2011. 
  4. ^ "Great Circle Distance between CANBERRA and COWRA". Geosciences Australia website. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 16 August 2011. 
  5. ^ "Great Circle Distance between SYDNEY and COWRA". Geosciences Australia website. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 16 August 2011. 
  6. ^ "Cowra". Sydney Morning Herald Travel ( 8 February 2004. Retrieved 24 October 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "Cowra". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW. Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. Retrieved 9 March 2011. 
  8. ^ 185386 "PLACE NAMES.". The Australian Women's Weekly (1932–1982) (1932–1982: National Library of Australia): p. 61. 13 May 1964. 185386. Retrieved 22 February 2011. 
  9. ^ "Festival of International Understanding". Australian Broadcasting Corporation Central West NSW. 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  10. ^ a b "COWRA AIRPORT COMPARISON". Climate statistics for Australian locations. Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Norington, Brad (3 June 2006). "Hard labour ahead". Features (The Australian).,20867,19342116-28737,00.html. Retrieved 2006-06-21. 
  13. ^ Man goes nuts with axe
  14. ^ AFP arrests Cowra man after landmark hacking investigation
  15. ^ Man under guard.
  16. ^ Man aquitted of murder
  17. ^ Cowra Cannery Collapses.

External links[]

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Cowra. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.