Cowra is a town in the Central West region of New South Wales, Australia in the Cowra Shire. It is located on the Mid-Western Highway, 317 kilometres west of Sydney on the banks of the Lachlan River at an altitude of 310 metres above sea level. At the 2006 census Cowra had a population of 8,430 people.
The area was originally inhabited by the Wiradjuri people. The first white explorer, George Wilson Evans, entered the Lachlan Valley in 1815. He named the area the Oxley Plains after his superior the surveyor-general, John Oxley. In 1817 he deemed the area "unfit for white settlement". A military depot was established not long after at Soldiers Flat near present day Billimari. Arthur Ranken and James Sloan, from Bathurst, were amongst the first white settlers on the Lachlan. They moved to the area in 1831.

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The township of "Coura Rocks" had its beginnings in 1844. Around 1847, the township site became known as Cowra, and in 1849, was proclaimed a village.
In the 1850s the many gold prospectors passed through headed for gold fields at Lambing Flat (Young) and Grenfell. The first school was established in 1857. The first bridge over the Lachlan River was built in 1870. Gold was discovered at Mount McDonald in the 1880s. The rail head, from Sydney, reached Cowra in 1886. Local government was granted in 1888. The first telephone exchange was established in 1901. The town water supply was established in 1909, the gasworks in 1912 and town supplied electricity was introduced in 1924.
In 1922, a young Sir Charles Kingsford Smith flew under the Cowra Traffic Bridge with local man Ken Richards. The pair also attempted to fly under the railway bridge but Richards noticed telephone lines seconds before the attempt and they were able to pull the aircraft up and away from danger.

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Peace Bell
The Australian World Peace Bell was awarded to Cowra for its contribution to the aims of world peace and international understanding. His Excellency Rear Admiral Peter Sinclair, Governor of NSW, officially dedicated it on September 15, 1992. Normally the bell would be sited in the national capital.
The original World Peace Bell, cast from medals and coins donated by the member nations of the time, is housed in the forecourt of the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Other countries have contributed towards casting Peace Beils that are situated in countries in Europe, Asia, South America and Japan. The Bell weighs 477kgs, is 1060mm hiqh and has a diameter of 600mm.
The World Peace Bell Association is a non-political, non-sectarian Organisation formed to promote peace throughout the world.
The Australian Chapter of the World Peace Bell Association, based in Cowra, was formed in December 1989 to oversee the Installation of the Bell. It now promotes World Peace Day, usually held in the third Tuesday in September, and supports many civic functions held throughout the year in Cowra.

Source: wikipedia / peace bell: on site information board