November 05, 2018

Australian Battlefield Tours

Michael Osborne goes ON Tour in Australia with Battlefield Tours, an Australian company that takes their guests to sites all over the world.

Day 1. Leaving the meeting point in Sydney, we headed south towards Canberra. Stops were made for coffee and breakfast for some, as it had been an early start.

The Australian War Memorial is recognised as one of the finest in the world and is worth the trip to Canberra on its own.

The exhibits are astounding and are being continually upgraded and maintained. I have visited here many times and always find I haven't enough time to see all of this extremely important part of our history.

Members of our tour had the option of being escorted or to do our own thing.

Our group stayed until the closing time, when we attended the sunset service. A very moving experience as the ode was presented and a lone bugler haunted us with the Last Post, while relatives laid wreaths in memory of those who fell and those who served.

The first evening we enjoyed a private dinner and a chance to get to know our fellow travellers a bit more.

Day 2. After an early breakfast we are on the road, heading off via Harden and its memorial to the Light Horse and a plaque 'Bill The Bastard'! Bill was actually a horse from the Light Horse, who defied all attempts to ride him except for a Major Michael Shananan.

Temora and one of the greatest air shows in the Southern Hemisphere, Warbirds Downunder.

During the war Temora was home to No 10 Elementary Flying Training School, where more than 2400 RAAF pilots learnt the basics of flight before serving in combat in Europe and the Pacific. Today Temora is home to the Temora Aviation Museum, a collection of significant Australian aircraft used during wartime, nearly all in flying condition.

We are given our admission tickets (a part of the tour package) and let loose to enjoy the flying displays from dozens of aircraft including Spitfires, Hurricanes, Mustangs, Kittyhawks and my father's 32 Sqd Hudson bomber.

The planes are something special, the aeronautics are mind boggling and try and imagine the sound of 6 x 12 cylinder aircraft flying in formation.

One sound you couldn't imagine is the F/A18 Hornet taking off less than 100 metres away. The earth shook as did everything else.

There were plenty of static displays and aircraft to walk around and some even to explore. The facilities were more than adequate with many food and drink set-ups and souvenir stalls.

Day 3. As Temora was totally booked out, we took the short drive to Cowra where we were booked for two nights.

An early evening arrival and checked into our motel. The good news was that we were opposite a bar/bistro and a hotel was only 50 metres up the road, so we were able to quench our thirst and relive the sensational day.

Once in bed, my mind was still flashing back to the aerobatics and the shock waves of the F/A18 – the almost impossible turns as it rocketed across us and the sight of it flying in formation with a Gloster Meteor, one of the earliest of jet fighters.

Day 4. We visit the Cowra Japanese Garden and Cultural Centre and it just happens to have a great café serving breakfast.

The Centre was established to recognize and develop the relationship between the people of Cowra Shire and the people of Japan, a relationship that has its origins in the Camp that housed the Japanese P.O.W's during World War II.

The gardens are a delight and should be added to your 'not to be missed' list when visiting Cowra. The breakfast was pretty special as well.

Prisoner of War Camp Site.

At 1.50 am on the clear moonlit night of August 5, 1944, the largest Prisoner of War breakout in modern military history occurred at Cowra. More than 1000 Japanese prisoners launched a mass 'suicide attack' on their guards, Australian soldiers of the 22nd Garrison. To the Japanese, the disgrace of capture could finally be overcome by dying in armed battle.

Protected only by baseball mitts, blankets and coats and using their comrades as a human bridge to cross the tangled barbed wire, more than 350 Japanese clawed their way to freedom.

All escapees were captured during the following week. A total of 107 POWs were wounded, 231 prisoners died along with four Australian soldiers.

There are audio visual displays to show where the camp was laid out.

A group dinner at the Cowra Services Club tops off another very interesting and informative day.

Day 5. We leave Cowra and head towards Bathurst and Lithgow, making a stop in Blayney and to have our group photo taken at their War Memorial Gates.

A visit to the Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum.

Situated on the existing Factory site, this unique museum is widely recognised for its comprehensive collection of modern firearms from around the world, but more than that, it is a showcase of Australian manufacturing. Displays show the production processes and social history of this renowned facility.

This was our last stop for the tour and back on the coach, we head back to Sydney to the arranged drop-off point. Taking home our wonderful memories of an excellent tour,

For complete details of all tours: and 1300 880 340 for any phone enquiries in Australia.

Anzac Day 2019: An Australia itinerary which is covers similar territory and includes Anzac Day celebrations in Canberra.

Words and images: Michael Osborne

Feature supplied by:


1. 62,000 Poppies in remembrance Australia War Memorial

2. Wreath laying Australia War Memorial

3. Bob The Bastard Harden

4. Hudson Bomber ex 32Sqd

5. 72 sweet cylinders'

6. How close do you want to get

7. Layout of POW Camp Cowra

8. Ex-servicemen form our tour laying a wreath at Cowra War Cemetery

9. Japanese Gardens Cowra

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