Cowra’s history in the spotlight

Cowra’s Japanese Garden and Cultural Centre has officially been recognised by the National Trust as the centre of Japanese cultural heritage in Australia.

The garden has received the acknowledgement due to its strong links to the Japanese community in Australia and its role as an important part of the Japanese and Australian reconciliation following the Second World War.

The garden is a true reflection of a traditional Japanese landscape garden design and features a number of Japanese cultural items donated by individuals and companies of Japanese heritage.

The garden’s founder and chairman Don Kibbler is delighted by the recognition and said the garden was an important part of displaying the history of Cowra.

“It is forty years this month since the idea of a Japanese Garden was put forward to the people of Cowra and it has proved to be a success injecting millions of dollars into the Cowra community,” Mr Kibbler said.

“The idea was to reflect on the history; our history and the most dramatic thing to happen in Cowra was the breakout from the POW camp during the war.

“Many hurdles have been overcome to reach this milestone and the board of directors and staff are determined to keep improving for years to come. “

Mr Kibbler believes the garden is an important part of the relationship between Japan and Australia and recognises a shared a history between the once-warring nations.

“Because of the feeling from Japan it has become something special in Cowra and Australia,” he said.

“It has become part of Australian/Japanese history and will continue to do so.”

The garden has been almost entirely self-sufficient since it began with only a one-off loan being taken out from Cowra Council in 1978 to help establish the garden.

The loan was paid off in 1983 and since then the garden has been self-sufficient.

Mr Kibbler said the garden is planning to continue its development and plans are already being made for the next stage of expansion.

“I am proud to say that the beauty and success of The Garden has been achieved without requests being made to Cowra Council for financial assistance,” he said.

“Plans have been approved to further expand The Garden and Cultural Centre as funds are available.”

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