Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Cowra is a town and Local Government Area in the central west of New South Wales, Australia. Cowra is located 310m above sea-level and about 300 kilometers west of Sydney on the banks of the Lachlan River. It is located between the Council areas of Blayney , Cabonne , Forbes, Weddin , Young and Boorowa. The Shire has a number of small villages being Billimari , Darbys Falls , Morongla, Mount McDonald Woodstock, Woodstock, Gooloogong , Noonbinna , Wyangala and Wattamondara .
The original name for Cowra was 'Coura Rocks'. This may have been the name of one of the earliest cattle stations. This name is probably the name of the river ford where people could cross the Lachlan River.
The area was originally inhabited by the Wiradjuri people. The first white 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 white settlement. A Military Depot was established not long after at Soldiers Flat near present day Billimari . Arthur Rankin 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 1840. By 1847 the township became known as Cowra. The village was proclaimed in 1849. In the 1850s the 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.
The Cowra breakout
The actions of the prisoners in storming machine gun posts, armed only with improvised weapons, showed a "suicidal disregard of life", and had no chance of success. Many of the prisoners died by their own hand, or were killed by other prisoners.
During the breakout and subsequent recapture of prisoners, four Australian guards, 231 Japanese prisoners died and 108 prisoners were wounded.
See the Cowra breakout article for more details.
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