The Great Escape

About Cowra

Friendship, family and reconciliation in the town of international understanding.

Cowra, a country-town located in the central-west region of New South Wales, holds a unique place in Australia’s history.

During World War II, Cowra was the site of a prisoner of war camp which held predominantly Japanese soldiers who had been captured by Australian military forces. In 1944 there was a mass break-out. The 'Cowra Breakout' resulted in over 200 deaths. The Japanese prisoners who died were buried in Cowra in what is now the only Japanese War Cemetery that exists outside of Japan.

In light of its history, Cowra has committed itself to a culture of reconciliation. It is home to the UN Australian World Peace Bell – a replica of the bell located in the forecourt of the United Nation’s headquarters in New York. Cowra also holds an annual Festival of International Understanding to celebrate a guest nation and foster cultural understanding between the town and another country.

For filmmakers Steve Best and Jenny Ainge, the relationship with the Cowra community has been forged over a decade of visiting the town. In the 70th commemorative year of the Cowra Breakout the two filmmakers were resident in town to explore some of the stories of friendship, family and reconciliation.

Big Stories wishes to advise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visitors that this website may contain images or names of deceased people.