About 250 miles in total for this leg of the journey – overcast at the beginning, it turned to heavy rain as we approached Cowra. After a long dry spell, the rain is now welcome by most Australians as it lessens the risk of bush fires.
To break up the journey, we spent a couple of hours in Cowra and found the hologram representation of the events at the POW Camp excellent (see below). Driving into the camp a narrative of the story activated as we approached the lookout tower. A friendly town and well worth the visit.
On the road
At 1.50 am on the clear moonlit night of August 5, 1944, the largest Prisoner of War breakout in modern military history occurred at Cowra. More than 1000 Japanese prisoners launched a mass ‘suicide attack’ on their guards, Australian soldiers of the 22nd Garrison. To the Japanese, the disgrace of capture could finally be overcome by dying in armed battle.
Armed with crude weapons, four groups each of approximately 300 Japanese threw themselves on to barbed wire fences and into the firing line of Vickers machine guns. Protected only by baseball mitts, blankets and coats and using their comrades as a human bridge to cross the tangled barbed wire, more than 350 Japanese clawed their way to freedom.
All escapees were captured during the following week. A total of 107 POWs were wounded, 231 prisoners died along with four Australian soldiers.
From the tragedy of war and the Cowra Breakout came a long lasting friendship between the people of Cowra and the nation of Japan. [Cowra Tourism]
Like a lot of memorable moments it was a chance that led us to Evans Lookout. It had been chucking down for a couple of hours now and was starting to ease off when we took the turning on a whim after seeing the sign. With the mist shrouding the trees, it was quite atmospheric.
We stayed at Bob and Sue’s lovely house in Katoomba, another airbnb.
They’re both Fire Service volunteers and knowledgeable about walks in the area.
Whilst at Evans Lookout we’d noticed lots of fire scarred trees, as we’d seen at many of the other tourist sites. We asked Bob about the cause who explained that the one there had, he believed been caused by the army training with live ammunition in the area. However, mainly these fires were caused by arsonists or lightning strikes.
After finding our accommodation, we popped out for a meal in Katoomba, just by the central station there are plenty of restaurants including a great number of options for veggies (makes a change!).