We are recently returned from another touring holiday of Victoria -extended distances again, and a sense of freedom on the long day drives. On our first day, on our way south to Canberra, we stopped at the Japanese Gardens in Cowra, New South Wales, for a horticultural treat.
During WW2 there was a Japanese PoW camp at Cowra, and on 5th August 1944, 1104 prisoners broke out of the camp, although where they would have gone in this inhospitable, and at that time largely uninhabited country, is anybody’s guess. In any event, they were either killed (there were 231 deaths amongst the Japanese) or recaptured and imprisoned for the duration of the war. There is a Japanese cemetery nearby where those killed in the breakout were buried and in 1960 the Japanese Government decided to bring their war dead from other parts of Australia to be buried there. The cemetery is serene and peaceful, a fitting resting place for the Japanese soldiers who died in Australia.
The inclusive and healing nature of the cemetery was the beginning of a friendship between the people of Cowra and the people of Japan. In 1977 a world famous landscape architect, Ken Nakajima was commissioned to design a garden reminiscent of the landscape of Japan, and the beautiful Cowra Japanese Gardens are the result. Many of the trees in this garden were planted by visiting Japanese dignitaries.
Set in a natural amphitheatre, after 40 years the gardens have grown to be a splendid example of the principles of Japanese gardening containing accepted elements such as plants that provide colour and interest throughout the seasons, water, stone or gravel, bridges and fish.
Although we arrived in late Autumn there was still plenty of colour to be enjoyed.
Water is in constant view in the garden. A chuckling stream of recycled water makes its way down the hill between manicured shrubs to finish in a lake containing Koi Carp.
Boulders, some of them very large, were donated by the Dunhill family of ‘Boonderoo’ in memory of Ted Dunhill, who died in Sandakan province, Borneo in 1945. In a photo below Mr MG surveys the gardens from the top of the hill.
Long views shown in the photos below demonstrate how the elements of Japanese gardens combine together to construct a landscape in miniature.
This was a wonderful and uplifting way to start our holiday, as I hope the photos show.
Finally, I’d like to share with you photos of these paintings displayed in the Cultural Centre. Painted by Paul McKnight, an Australian artist, they charmed me with their attention to detail and quirkiness. Each paper-thin tea cup with its matching saucer is complemented with a teaspoon, a biscuit and a lushly painted background. They had names such as ‘Royal-tea’ and ‘Her Majes-tea’.
Do you enjoy a manicured garden such as this one, or do you prefer something altogether less structured?