Showing posts with label australia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label australia. Show all posts

Thursday, 30 November 2017

A Visit To Cowra POW Camp

Back in April I went camping in Central New South Wales. On the way back we paid what we assumed would be a quick visit to Cowra POW Camp, and ended up staying longer than we anticipated.

The camp was built during WWII and housed about 4000 prisoners in four compounds. Many were Italians, there were some Koreans who had served in the Japanese military, a group of Indonesian civilians, but there were also just over 1,000 Japanese prisoners.

In August 1944 word was leaked of a plan to move all of the Japanese prisoner who were not officers or NCOs to another camp at nearby Hay. The prisoners were informed on 4th August. On the night of the 5th August, just over 1,000 attempted a massed breakout.

Armed with improvised weapons, they stormed the guard posts en masse. Four Australian soldiers were killed, along with numerous POWs. Just over 350 actually escaped the camp, disappearing into the surrounding countryside. A number committed suicide either during the breakout, or after it. There are stories of prisoners attempting to hitch-hike, and cases of local civilians giving them food and shelter. The prisoners themselves had been ordered not to harm the local civilian population. Within 10 days all of the surviving escapees had been recaptured.

The final toll was 4 Australian soldiers killed, along with 231 prisoners dead and 108 wounded. Many died by suicide or at the hands of their fellows.

The camp itself continued to operate until the end of the war.

Virtually none of the original camp structure survives, but the area it covered has footpaths and numerous interpretative boards which explain life in the camp, and the lead-up to the breakout as well as the events of the breakout itself. These photos show some of the surviving structures and foundations. Sadly I don't have much in the way of notes as to what most of these pictures are of.

This is a reconstruction.


The layout of the camp.








The Italian prisoners had numerous craftsmen in their ranks. They built two fountains in their compound, parts of which still survive. They also worked in the local community; indeed they seem to have been lightly supervised, with an expectation that they would work outside the camp during the day and return at night. Some even used this freedom of movement to carry on romantic relationships with the locals.



Near the camp is a Japanese war cemetery; initially this held the dead from the breakout, but in 1960 it was expanded to house the remains of all Japanese war dead in Australia. In addition Cowra has a magnificent Japanese garden, built  in part by the Japanese government in gratitude for the town's respectful treatment of both the prisoners and the war-dead. It exists as a symbol of peace and friendship between the people of Japan and the people of Cowra.

Monday, 1 May 2017

The Eugowra Gold-Robbery

This is the first of a couple of posts covering places we visited on our recent camping trip to central NSW.

Just down the road from where we camped is a roadside stop called Escort Rock, which was the site of Australia's biggest gold robbery when Frank Gardiner, Ben Hall and seven other bushrangers held up a gold company coach, and escaped with approximately (in modern terms) $4 million in gold and cash. You can read the full story HERE and the photos of the information board below has more information, as well as a map.


This is the actual site of the robbery, which is unfortunately on private land so not accessible.


I must confess that gaming some of the bushrangers' exploits has been on my 'to do' list for a while and it struck me that it would make an interesting skirmish game, with a few changes. As it stands it's just an ambush, and with the police and guards outnumbered two-to-one and already at a disadvantage it doesn't seem to offer much of a game. But there did seem to be some issues loading the spoils onto horses for the getaway. This allows a game to bathtub in the pursuit as well, with police reinforcements appearing after a certain time, forcing the bushrangers to resolve the ambush quickly and load up their spoils before they arrive. With the right timing their escape could be contested, adding just the right amount of challenge required for the game.

 Fun Fact: This gold robbery appears to have been the inspiration for a Sherlock Holmes story. I'll leave you to determine which one.

The site can be found on Escort Way, a few km to the east of the town of Eugowra itself.

Monday, 19 December 2016

100 Objects

This weekend we headed off down to Canberra for a birthday party, and whilst we were there we took the opportunity to see the 'History of the World in 100 Objects' at the National Museum of Australia. This is pretty much what it says; it's one hundred objects and artefacts from the British Museum, collected and grouped to take the visitor through human history across the globe. It starts with the earliest known stone tool and ends with a portable solar panel and lamp.

The chances are that I've seen most of the objects before, having been to the British Museum more than a couple of times. But a lot of them would have been overwhelmed by the other items on display here. This select collection mixed famous items with ones that are probably less well-known.

The exhibition had originally been put on at the British Museum, but some of the objects in the Australian version were different. This was mostly due to some of the original ones being items that the museum would be reluctant to load out elsewhere - the Rosetta Stone, for example. I'm not sure which specific objects were different but frankly it didn't really matter. It was an interesting walk through thousands of years of history, culture and change, and even such things as a counterfeit football shirt had a story to tell.

I took a few photos. I could have photographed every object, but I didn't. Here are some I thought might be of interest to you, the Reader of this blog. Unfortunately in some cases I forgot to photograph the label giving details of what the thing was, so my comments will be somewhat limited.

Let's start with some Assyrian soldiers.


And how about the the head of a statue of Augustus Caesar? This is the one that was looted from Roman Egypt by the Kushites, buried in a trophy horde at Meroe and eventually dug up centuries later in the Sudan.


This is Mithras.


A Sassanian noble hunting.


A jug in the form of a Moche warrior from Peru.


This is a statues of an Aztec spirit. Specifically that of a woman who died in childbirth. Whilst such women were honoured as highly as warriors, their restless spirits had to be placated to prevent them from causing harm in the material world.


The famous Lewis chessmen




Brasses from 16th century Benin, depicting European soldiers


This is a relatively modern artefact - an Afghan war-rug. Made in the 1980s, it shows Afghans fighting the occupying Russians, the latter being depicted as horned demons.


I cannot recommend this exhibition highly enough. I did see a few things written on some of the labels I had issue with (once again someone failed to understand just what Darwin's theory was about), but it was mostly excellently put together, with the context of each object briefly but clearly explained.

But be quick; it's only on until the end of January.


Monday, 22 December 2014

Army Showcase - Horrors of the Dreamtime

In my previous post I looked at my Australian Aboriginal army for HOTT. A couple of years after I built that army I finally completed their opponents, the Horrors of the Dreamtime. This army is a mixed bag of nasties from various myths and legends, under the control of the evil god Marmoo.

Here is the army.


It is made up as follows:

1 x Flier General (Marmoo, The Evil One)
1 x Behemoth (The Wulgaru)
1 x Behemoth (The Great Whowhie of the Murray River)
1 x Magician (Goose Women)
1 x Beast (Cheerooneer)
1 x Beast (The Terrible Old Woman and Her Dogs)
1 x Lurker (Yara-ma-yha-who)
1 x Water Lurker (The Bunyip)
4 x Hordes (Insect Plague)
Stronghold: A sacred site (the same stronghold the other army uses in fact; only one of them needs it at a time.)


The Wulgaru was an attempt by a wirinun to make a man from rocks, stones and paint. In the story his creation runs amok. It's also only man-sized. When I tried to model one I got carried away and produced one that scales to 20' tall. The model is made from twigs, stones and paint - just like the real thing.


The Goose Women were evil witches who beset a hero in one story. They are naked women from Museum Miniatures, with geese, also from Museum Miniatures.


The Great Whowhie should have six legs, but who's counting. It was a giant lizard/crocodile monster which terrorised an area until defeated by an alliance of tribes. My model is a plastic lizard toy (a blue-tongued skink I think) with a new paint-job.


Marmoo, the Evil One, is the source and perpetrator of all kinds of bad things in various legends and stories. Whilst he could be classed as a God, I didn't have the points and neither could he then be the general. So he's a Flier instead. He's a Feudal Castings warrior, representing his human form, along with a GW bat above a scratchbuilt dead tree.


The Yara-ma-yha-who are blood-sucking monsters who lie in wait for the unwary, described as small red men with big heads. These GW Warmaser trolls seemed just perfect.


GW also provided the figure from my Bunyip water monster, from their Man O'War sea-monsters range.


Cheerooneer was a dog-headed man who terrorised tribes with his pack of dogs. The Terrible Old Woman did much the same. Together they make a nice pair of Beast elements. The dogs are all Pendraken, I think, whilst the humanoid figures are Feudal Castings and Chariot. The Feudal Castings warrior has a Peter Pig wolf-head. If you've not checked out Peter Pigs head range, you should.


One of Marmoo's evil plans was to flood the world with bugs. Lots and lots of bugs, insects and creeping things. Hordes galore.


They are made up of various figures from manufacturers I forget, although I think that this glorious spider is from Copplestone Castings.


The beetles are lentils and the butterflies scratchbuilt from paper.




As a HOTT army this is pretty rubbish, with only the Behemoths providing any strength and too many other bits and pieces to make co-ordination easy. The Flier general is a bit isolated with no other aerials, and vulnerable to an army that is strong in its own aerials - including the Aboriginal army it's designed to fight. One day I shall rework it to make it a more viable opponent, but the trick is to do it without affecting its current good looks and charm.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Army Showcase - Australian Aboriginal

The new edition of HOTT contained a few new army lists, some of which I contributed. One of these were a pair of lists for Australian Aboriginal myths and legends, so I thought I would showcase the two armies I have produced based on them, They both date from ten or more years ago.

In this post I will cover the Aboriginal list itself, and in another post I will look at their opponents, the Horrors of the Dreamtime.

Here is the Aboriginal army. It consists of:

1 x Warband General (Wirinun and elders)
3 x Warband (Warriors)
1 x God (Baiame, The Great Spirit)
1 x Hero (The Winjarning Brothers)
1 x Beast (Warrior with Dingoes)
2 x Lurkers (Tuckonies)
2 x Fliers (Warrawilberoos)
Stronghold: Sacred site with rock paintings


The core of the army are the warriors, led by their wirinun (a kind of shaman), the white-bearded gentleman in the middle of this element. Although armed with ranged weapons such as boomerangs (although some are just used as hand-weapons, and few designed to return) and spear-throwers, they did not seem to be in a dense enough formation to count as Shooters. It's an option though.

The Wirinun could be classed as a Magician, but true to many other cultures around the world, offensive magic is generally regarded as a Bad Thing, so I would reserve it for morally ambiguous or evil armies only.


The figures were from Feudal Castings and are true 15mm. I don't know who makes them now. It was a good value pack - 24 figures, plus assorted weapons and shields.


I indulged them in plenty of war-paint and decorations.


The Winjarning Brothers appear in a number of legends, travelling the country righting wrongs and defeating monsters and magicians. They too have war-paint, but to show them as outsiders it takes a different form to that of the warriors.


Baiame is the Creator. In a few stories, however, he becomes directly involved in the affairs of his creations.


Tuckonies are tree-spirits, and are very small - no more than a couple of feet tall. They have high squeaky voices. Mine don't have any trees, but bear this with great fortitude. For figures I used 6mm Mahdists and Zulus from Heroics & Ros.



I'm not sure who made the dogs upon which I based the dingoes. The ears were modelled with modelling putty, so I'm guessing that they were something lop-eared before.


Warrawilberoos are whirlwind spirits. I chose to depict them as warriors riding on pillars of wind, made from wire and tissue-paper.


The stronghold is a simple affair made from painted stones.


With the experience of many years I now look at those bases and think that they are little sparse in detail, but I'm loath to do anything about it because I like the colour and am not sure I could ever reproduce it.

This army has performed admirably over the years, with the Hero and the Warband providing some punch and the other elements tagging along in support.

In my next post I will look at their opponents, the Horrors of the Dreamtime.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

A Big Day

Another non-wargaming post. But an important one for my family and for me.

We emigrated to Australia from the UK just over six years ago. Today my wife Catherine, my daughter Maya and I became Australian citizens*.




My son Cei took the pictures. He became a citizen earlier this year.


Same mayor. Same choir. Same room.

Some statistics. In this ceremony, one of four or five held each year in Wollongong, fifty people became citizens. We came from sixteen different countries. The UK was well-represented, but there were people from China, Myanmar, Canada, the USA, Lebanon, Congo, Italy, Thailand, New Zealand, The Philippines, Iran, South Korea and even Azerbaijan.

It means that I can, indeed must, vote, can apply for government jobs, get an Australian passport and serve on a jury. And I can say that I'm Australian, which is really quite cool.

*Actually we all four have dual UK/Aussie nationality, as we have retained out UK passports. Handy, although it prevents us from becoming members of parliament here, were any of us so inclined to become one.
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