Cowra Prisoner of War Camp Site | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Cowra Prisoner of War Camp Site

Item details

Name of item: Cowra Prisoner of War Camp Site
Other name/s: POW
Type of item: Archaeological-Terrestrial
Group/Collection: Law Enforcement
Category: Internment Camp
Location: Lat: -33.8152790265 Long: 148.7064097440
Primary address: Evans Street, Cowra, NSW 2794
Parish: Cowra
County: Bathurst
Local govt. area: Cowra
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Cowra
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
CROWN LAND    
LOT1 DP196204
LOT305 DP823438
LOT21 DP862774
PART LOT22 DP862774
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Evans StreetCowraCowraCowraBathurstPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Cowra Shire CouncilLocal Government07 Apr 99

Statement of significance:

The Cowra POW camp-site exists within a landscape that is both evocative and aesthetically pleasing. This landscape may be used to interpret the context of the camp as the site's primary historical feature, because it remains essentially the way it was during WWII.

The site is one component of a national body of evidence which documents the most profound physical impact of WWII on Australian soil. It also represents the only land engagement on the Australian mainland during that period.

The camp-site has a wide ethnic and multi-cultural association and was instrumental in the decisions of many families to migrate to Australia after WWII. The site has a particular cultural and spiritual significance to the Japanese nation, as it was the focus of the break-out and loss of life of Japanese prisoners. Links formed between Cowra and Japan have been instrumental in affecting the form, direction and identity of the town in the post-war period. This situation is unique in Australia. (Thorp 1993: 45)
Date significance updated: 01 Oct 97
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Builder/Maker: Australian soldiers and POWs
Construction years: 1941-1944
Physical description: The camp is located on gently sloping land that is separated from the town by a ridge line. The camp generally exists in a cleared setting although there has been considerable tree growth in and around many of the structural remains. None of the original perimeter or internal fences, paths or structures remain to any appreciable level above ground level, although remnants of floor slabs, footings and drainiage lines have been identified using aerial photographs. A single ruinous, but above-ground structure is located at the north western end of the Headquarter's area. It comprises four walls constructed from a variety of materials including stone rubble, salvaged bricks and concrete blocks. Evidence of a relatively shallow-pitched roof remains. Two buildings remain intact off site, having been sold at auction after the camp was disbanded. They are 60' by 80' timber huts with corrugated asbestos pitched roofs. (Thorp 1993: 26-32).

The site on Sakura (Cherry blossom) Avenue boasts a new interpretive audio, signs and a replica camp control tower. A viewing platform was installed in 2014 (Meacham, 2018, 20).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Few of the former facilities survive to any great extent above ground level.
Archaeological potential is extremely high in all areas of the complex.
Modifications and dates: 1991 - Cherry Tree Avenue extended across the Camp to link with the War Cemetery and Cowra Japanese Gardens.
Current use: Private grazing, crop cultivation, passive recreation, tourism, commemoration, public access to camp site
Former use: Aboriginal land, WW2 Prisoner of War camp, 1950s experimental farm site

History

Historical notes: The Cowra Prisoner of War Camp was built on its site becuase the town was already host to thousands of new Australian recruits training to join the war effort (Meacham, 2018, 20).

The Prisoner of War Camp was built in 1941-2 to house Italian POWs captured by Allied Forces during WWII. It was part of a nationwide system of POW confinement and enemy alien containment. In all, twenty-eight major camps were established in Australia by the British Military Board during this period. The camp was to consist of four compounds, two with permanent amenities and two temporary. Although officially operating from June 1941, the first internees were marched into Cowra nearly four months later, on 15 October 1941. The major building program was still underway at this time and was not completed until well into 1944. Both POW and local labourers were used to complete construction, the prisoners living in tents until April 1942 when accommodation huts became available (Blackmore et.al. 1988: 6-18).

When the camp opened, the four 'compounds' - imaginatively named A, B, C & D - housed Italians (some captured as far away as North Africa) and Indonesians (usually merchant seamen or people who had upset their Dutch colonial rulers) as well as Japanese (ibid, 2018, 20).

By December 1942 over 2,000 mainly Italian, prisoners and internees were housed in the camp. Between January 1943 and August 1944, over one thousand Japanese POWs and internees arrived at the camp. By the end of June 1944 the camp was already overcrowded beyond its intended capacity (ibid, 1988: 6-18).

As the war turned in the Allies' favour, Japanese troops were captured along (Papua New Guinea's) Kokoda Track and elsewhere in the Pacific, making the camp overcrowded. The trigger for the breakout was the Australian decision to divide the Japanese into two groups. Officers and non-commissioned officers (such as corporals and sergeants) would stay at Cowra while ordinary soldiers would be transported to a camp at Hay. It was a disastrous misunderstanding of Japanese culture, Apthorpe says. In such a rigidly heirarchical society, the privates (often beaten into submission, even in the camp) were quite keen to be separated. But the officers - already shamed because they had been captured once without dying - were determined not to let that happen. A vote was taken on toilet paper. An X meant revolt; an O meant survive the war. The Xs won, though it was by no means unanimous (ibid, 2018, 20).

At 2 am on 5 August 1944 the Japanese prisoners staged an outbreak, during which over 300 escaped outright and over 250 died (231 Japanese and four Australians, including pearl divers from Broome, or merchants from Darwin, but most were soldiers, sailors or airmen, captured in combat (says Meacham, 2018, 20)). 18 buildings were burnt to the ground. This action has remained significant in popular memory as the first time the War was fought on home soil and as the largest revolt of its kind in Australia's history. This has often overshadowed the experience of the Italian, Javanese and assorted other ethnic groups which populated the camp during its operation (ibid, 1988: 6-18). The term 'breakout' is disliked by the Japanese, historian Graham Apthorpe says. The Japanese prefer the description 'riot', arguing it wasn't an 'escape' or a 'battle', but a mass suicide attempt, to avoid the shame of dishonour before dying. 'But in Australia, it's always been called 'The Cowra Breakout', Apthorpe says. The camp's wide central avenue was called 'Broadway' and was the obvious route of escape (ibid, 2018, 20).

After the end of the War the camp and its surrounds were sold to the New South Wales Department of Agriculture (who ran an experimental farm on the site) and a private owner. Part of the site remains within a public reserve. The private part of the site is used for grazing and crop cultivation. (ibid, 1988: 6-18).

In 1992 Cowra was awarded the honour of hosting the World Peace Bell. This is a replica of the original bell that sits in front of the United Nations Headquarters in New York, and has been cast from coins provided by the 103 countries that were members of the United Nations at the time (1945). It is housed in an open-air pavilion in the town's Civic Square, complete with audio explaining its significance. The POW Theatre in Cowra's Visitor Centre has a hologram-based introduction to the Cowra Breakout. It features Clare, a local girl whose Japanese boyfriend later became her husband, telling how he was treated as a prisoner of war, compared to the Japanese who staged the breakout. Though Cowra has a friendship agreement with Joetsu on the Sea of Japan (which housed Australian POWs during the war, including one from Cowra) the NSW town is not 'twinned' with any international equivalent. 'We regard the whole of Japan as our special friends' Apthorpe says. Japanese pilgrims are regular visitors. Takeshi (Ken) Nakajima, probably Japan's most famous landscape gardener of the 20th century, regarded Cowra's Japanese Garden as his overseas masterpiece (he also designed gardens in Moscow, Montreal and Houston). He selected the nearby site (on bushland next to Cowra's former rubbish tip) largely due to its natural rock outcrops, vistas and embracing slopes. Its five hectare site features 124 plant species (including Japanese variants of maple, camellia, flowering quince, cedar, elm, wisteria and serveral types of cherry tree. It is a kaiyushiki (strolling garden) and was opened in 1979 and completed in 1986. Each August, Japanese schoolchildren come to Cowra to help replant the Japanese Garden, where Nakajima chose to have some of his ashes scattered (ibid, 2018, 20).

The 22/9/2018 Sakura Matsuri, annual Cherry Blossom festival in Cowra celebrates spring and Japanese culture's reverence for its emergence, with flowering cherry tree blossom viewing. This ancient festival has influences dating back to the Edo period (1603-1868). In 2019 Cowra will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the event. Historian Graham Apthorpe, author of two books on war-time Cowra - 'A Town at War' and 'The Man Inside' - is chairman of the 5/8/2019 event (ibid, 2018, 20).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Other open space-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Natural - regenerating native flora valued for conservation purposes-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Changing the environment-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Cultural: Plains and plateaux supporting human activities-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Modification of terrain-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Introduce cultural planting-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Park reserve-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Ethnic influences-Activities associated with common cultural traditions and peoples of shared descent, and with exchanges between such traditions and peoples. Segregating people on the basis of ethnicity-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Ethnic influences-Activities associated with common cultural traditions and peoples of shared descent, and with exchanges between such traditions and peoples. Japanese culture-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Ethnic influences-Activities associated with common cultural traditions and peoples of shared descent, and with exchanges between such traditions and peoples. Italian migrants-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Ethnic influences-Activities associated with common cultural traditions and peoples of shared descent, and with exchanges between such traditions and peoples. Indonesian migrants-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Private farming-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Experimenting with new crops and methods-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Clearing land for farming-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Unseen but Present-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Significant Places How are significant places marked in the landscape by, or for, different groups-Monuments and Sites
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Significant plantings(s) of remembrance-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of military activities-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of remembrance-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of passive recreation-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes used for self reliant recreation-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes and parklands of distinctive styles-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of institutions - productive and ornamental-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Places of strikes and industrial actions-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Developing national landmarks-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Providing a venue for significant events-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Developing local landmarks-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Pastoralism-Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use Agisting and fattening stock for slaughter-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Building settlements, towns and cities-National Theme 4
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Temporary emergency housing-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Adapted heritage building or structure-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Accommodating prisoners and internees-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Accommodating migrants in hostels and camps-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Changing land uses - from rural to tourist-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Resuming private lands for public purposes-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Changing land uses - from suburban lots to public gardens-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal avenue of trees-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages 20th century Suburban Developments-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Subdivision of rural estates-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Shaping inland settlements-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages community park-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages living in the country-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Role of transport in settlement-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Creating landmark structures and places in regional settings-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Planning manorial villages and systems-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Segregating towns and villages by ethnicity-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Planned towns serving a specific industry-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Planning relationships between key structures and town plans-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Vernacular towns serving a specific industry-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Observing and looking out for enemy movements-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Detaining enemy personnel and aliens-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Involvement with the Second World War-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Involvement with the Second World War-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Military settlement-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation State links in a national network-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation War Memorial-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation War Memorial Avenue planting-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Remembering the fallen-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Memorialising those who served in war-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation British Military Board facility-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. State government-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Local government-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - conserving cultural and natural heritage-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - administering the justice system-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - jailing prisoners-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes The rule of law-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Scenes of sedition political dissent and rebellion-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Detaining POWs-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Monuments-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Industrial buildings-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Parks and public gardens-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Landscaping - WW2 period-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Landscaping - neglected, regenerating to bushland-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Landscaping - 20th century post WW2-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Adaptation of overseas design for local use-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Building and using prefabricated structures-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Vernacular structures and building techniques-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Landscape of Remembrance-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Designing structures to emphasise their important roles-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Performing important ceremonies and rituals-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Inspirational environments and events-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Ways of life 1900-1950-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Living in a prisoner-of-war camp-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Physical evidence of creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses, through domestic artefacts scatters, ar-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Living on the urban fringe-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Visiting heritage places-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Going to a museum-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Activities associated with relaxation and recreation-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Outdoor concerts and performances-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Enjoying public parks and gardens-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Gathering at landmark places to socialise-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Tourism-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Visiting gardens-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Community volunteering-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Red Cross activities-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Places of formal community gatherings-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Places of informal community gatherings-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Developing and maintaining a local museum-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Joining together to study and appreciate local history-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Belonging to an historical society or heritage organisation-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Commemorating war losses-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. War memorial Avenue of trees-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Cemeteries-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Remembering the deceased-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Burying and remembering notable persons-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Operating and maintaining cemeteries and burial grounds-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. War Memorial-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Commemorative avenue of trees (Boer, WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The development and occupation of the Prisoner of War camp was unique in the region, has important historical associations and has had a profound effect on the post-war development of Cowra. It represents a profound physical impact of WWII on Australian soil. The site can also be used to interpret the modified rural landscape in which it exists. The activities of the Agricultural Research Station have had a profound influence upon the district as a whole. (Thorp 1993: 41)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The landscape surrounding the site may be used to interpret the context of the camp as the site's primary historical feature, becuase it remains essentially the way it was during WWII. The pleasing and spacious environment is particularly evocative of both the conditions within the camp during its life and its post-war history. The intrusive tree and shrub growth however, are seen to detract from the siginifcance of the place by obscuring the interpretation of the site as an open space and masking many of the ruins. (Thorp 1993: 42)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The camp was not the first nor the largest POW campsite in Australia. Neither is it the best preserved. There is however, a substantial body of archaeological and documentary evidence that enables this site as part of a national body of evidence to demonstrate the POW experience of WWII in Australia. It is important for ethnic and multi-cultural experience in Australia. It has an association with the Japanese breakout, which has military significance. As the site on which many Japanese lives were lost it also has cultural and spiritual significance for the Japanese nation. Finally, the events which occurred at the site have initiated a profound impact on the form and cultural activity of Cowra in the post-war years. This is an event and process which is apparently unique in Australia. (Thorp 1993: 44)
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The physical remnants that remain in-situ represent a technology and building method for an architectural typology which is relatively rare in Australia and which existed for a short time and for a specific purpose. The physical and archaeolgical resources represent a database that could be used to more accurately examine the habits and lifestyle of both the guards and the prisoners within the camp. (Thorp 1993: 43)
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The site is not the first, largest or most intact POW camp. There is however, a substantial body of archaeological and documentary evidence that enables it, as part of a national body of evidence, to demonstrate the POW experience of WWII in Australia.
Integrity/Intactness: The site is not well preserved, with few of the original features remaining above ground. It does however have an intact archaeological resource. This, and the extensive documentary resource add significantly to its interpretive and historical potential.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

Redefine the PCO curtilage; apply for an RNE listing; relocate existing land owners.

Recommendations

Management CategoryDescriptionDate Updated
Recommended ManagementReview a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) 
Recommended ManagementProduce an Archaeological Zoning Plan (AZP) 
Recommended ManagementPrepare a maintenance schedule or guidelines 
Recommended ManagementCarry out interpretation, promotion and/or education 

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for commentPOW Camp 12, Cowra, CMP, by M & J Tracey for Cowra Council, dated October 2003 CMP received for consideration for endorsement 5 December 2003.  
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act See File For Schedule


Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
Maintenance and repair of existing farm fences and the provision of internal subdivision fences;
Maintenance and repair of existing dams, water storage facilities and reticulation systems .
Eradication of noxious plants and animals (weed species in natural areas to be removed either by manual means or treated by spot application of herbicide to avoid effects on native vegetation);
maintenance and repairs to existing access roads;
horticultural and agricultural management.
Oct 13 1989
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0061902 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0061913 Oct 89 1008483
Local Environmental Plan  26 Oct 90   
Potential Heritage ItemA    
Heritage studyHeritage Study 13 Jun 03   
Register of the National Estate 10126527 Mar 01   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Cowra Shire Heritage Study2003 Heritage Archaeology, Kingston, ACT  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written J.H. Winston-Gregson.1991Cherry Tree Avenue, Cowra PoW Camp
WrittenHeritage Archaeology2003Conservation management plan - Prisoner of war camp 12, Cowra, NSW
WrittenHeritage Archaeology.2003An archaeological assessment of the site of Prisoner of war camp 12, Cowra, NSW
PhotographHeritage Office1997(not stated)
WrittenKate Blackmore, Paul Ashton and Andrew Wilson1988Cowra Prisoner-of-War Camp Historical Study
WrittenMeacham, Steve2018'Breakout: when war hit home'
WrittenPOW campsite working party.1993Cowra Prisoner of War camp oral histories /
WrittenThe Integrated Design Company2013Cowra POW Camp, WWII history signs View detail
WrittenThe Integrated Design Company2013Cowra POW Camp ruins heritage interpretation View detail
WrittenWendy Thorp et.al.1993Cowra POW Camp-Site Plan of Management

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045173
File number: S90/00661;S91/06355 &HC870813


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