Cowra Breakout with Mat McLachlan - 2022

Group Tour

DEPARTS: 28th October 2022

4 Days
  • Price: per person, twin share
  • Single Supplement: $250
  • Deposit: 30%
To celebrate the launch of Mat McLachlan’s latest book, The Cowra Breakout, join us on this exclusive tour to commemorate the largest prison breakout in history. This is one of only two tours which will be personally escorted by Mat in 2022!

Cowra Breakout with Mat McLachlan – 2022

On 5 August 1944, Japanese prisoners staged the largest prison break-out in modern history, when more than 1000 prisoners charged the camp’s fences armed with crude improvised weapons. The Australian guards opened fire on the prisoners, killing and wounding hundreds, while hundreds more managed to flee into the surrounding fields. By the time the final escapees had been rounded up nearly a week later, 231 Japanese had been killed, either shot while escaping or by suicide. Four Australian guards were also killed. The Cowra Breakout sent ripples of shock across Australia, and today is considered the only land battle fought on Australian soil during the war.


Day 1 > Friday, 28 October 2022 | Sydney – Canberra

Welcome to our very special tour!  Today we depart Sydney at approximately 9am and begin our journey to Canberra. After some free time for lunch, this afternoon we will visit the Australian War Memorial, one of the world’s great military museums, where we will enjoy guided tours of the galleries and free time to explore. This afternoon we will attend the Last Post ceremony that marks the closing of the Memorial each day.

Day 2 > Saturday, 29 October 2022 | Canberra – Cowra

We will depart Canberra this morning and drive to Cowra. After free time for lunch, we will visit the POW Theatre, where a holographic display tells the story of the Cowra Breakout from a local perspective. We will then drive to the site of the POW camp, and spend the afternoon walking the ground where the Cowra Breakout occurred. This will be a moving experience, as we explore the former Japanese and Italian compounds and see the foundations of buildings that were destroyed during the Breakout. The most emotional part of our day will be walking in the footsteps of the Japanese who died during the escape attempt, and standing in the places where the Australian guards fought and died. We will then return to town, where our evening is at leisure to enjoy a traditional country dinner in one of Cowra’s restaurants or pubs. (B)

Day 3 > Sunday, 30 October 2022 | Cowra

We will begin our day at the Cowra War Cemetery, where we will participate in a memorial service at the graves of the Australians and Japanese who died in the Breakout. The Japanese Cemetery is also the final resting place of every Japanese national who died in Australia during the war, including airmen shot down over Darwin, sailors whose ships were sunk in Australian waters and civilian internees. Later in the day we will visit the beautiful Japanese Gardens and spend time roaming through this living memorial to the men who died, and a symbol of peace and reconciliation. In the afternoon we will drive out of town to the place where Lt Harry Doncaster was killed while attempting to apprehend escapees on the evening of the Breakout. We will conduct a service at the memorial site in his honour. We will also visit the site of the former Army Training Camp, which played an important role in the Breakout. Our evening is free to enjoy dinner and reflect on a memorable day.

Day 4 > Monday, 31 October 2022 | Cowra – Sydney

This morning we will return to the beautiful Japanese Gardens, where we will enjoy breakfast. We will then depart Cowra for our drive to Sydney. En-route we will stop in the town of Blayney to visit the grave of Sergeant Thomas Hancock, the often forgotten fifth Australian who died as a result of the Cowra breakout. We continue to Lithgow, home to Australia’s most important arms manufacturing factory for more than a century. We will visit the Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum and enjoy a guided tour of the museum’s extensive collection of firearms that chronicles the history of arms used by the Australian military since its earliest conflicts, as well as visiting the former factory with a fascinating collection of arms manufacturing equipment from the turn of the century.  In the late afternoon we will arrive in Sydney, where our tour will come to an end.


  Tour personally escorted by historian Mat McLachlan
 All excursions, scenic drives and sightseeing as described in the itinerary
 Commemorative service for the Cowra Breakout
 3 nights’ accommodation
 Travel by comfortable, air-conditioned coach
 Breakfast daily
 All entrance fees as per the itinerary

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Contact our reservations team on 1300 880 340 or click on the enquiry button below and leave your details.

Ask about our airfare, hotel and car hire deals, which offer great discounts when booked in conjunction with our tours.

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Please note: Itineraries are subject to change due to operational reasons. In addition, your Historian may alter the sites visited on each day to suit local conditions. Any changes will be advised closer to the time of departure.

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