RoadTrip2021: Canowindra, Cowra and Grenfell

May 7, 2021 | 13 Comments

This trip has been such an eye-opener for me – I just had no idea how beautiful and interesting so many NSW towns are. Today I’m sharing three that I visited over a two day period – Canowindra, Cowra and Grenfell.


First up Canowindra and the first thing to say about this town is its name. It is not pronounced Cano-windra which would be the logical way to say it. Instead, it is Ca-nowin-dra. And the ‘nowin’ part is like ‘noun’.

As for its main historic street… it was amazing. I absolutely love a main street that bends and this is a great example!


After visiting Millthorpe and Carcoar the day before (they are very touristy) it was refreshing to visit a town which was full of locals and which was delightfully run-down! 


And yes it was raining on this day, but it didn’t stop me sketching. I’m really starting to love all those verandahs!


Another photo of the bend in the road!

As for my sketches…


The line drawing was abandoned due to rain but I managed to get the main elements down anyway.

A coffee at a local cafe and then an attempt at a neat sketch of one of the pubs. Not a fan of working like this as it leads to my fussing too much. And, oops, I haven’t finished the map yet!


Two more quick sketches… I particularly enjoyed the watercolour sketch on the right as I was able to easily alternate between line and colour and my brown ink was a good match for the details.

Once again, I would have loved to have had more time here.



Nothing special about Cowra’s main street but I did like the fact that the town was quite hilly – with great views of the surrounding countryside. Sadly I didn’t take a photo.


I found a great cafe and did another flat white sketch.


Another courthouse and another JimmyB (James Barnet)… although this building is probably more Walter Vernon’s work (the Colonial Architect after James Barnet). But I still had to sketch it! (Sketch included below.)


However, my main reason for stopping in Cowra had nothing to do with Australian architecture or main street design! I wanted to check out all the WWII sites. 

Cowra had a Prisoner of War Camp during the war (mainly Italian and Japanese POWs) and is famous for the Cowra Breakout which occurred on 5 August 1944, when 1,104 Japanese prisoners of war attempted to escape. 


There is not much left at the campsite but there were a lot of interesting information panels.


This is the view of where the camp was


and a photo at the time.


I did two quick sketches and a plan of the camp arrangement.


Next I visited the Japanese War Cemetery.


The Japanese graves are on the left and the Australian soldiers are on the right.


And then finally I went to the Japanese Gardens (which were free entry that day). The sun came out just as I was at the best viewing spot.


Two more photos…


Spread from Cowra… coffee, courthouse, cemetery and garden. I didn’t have much time in the garden so I did a really quick sketch on a loose piece of paper and glued it in later.



Another wet day and another town with a bent main street. This day was my ‘work day’ (I had to catch up on a few things and send out my monthly newsletter) so I just went into town for a few hours to do a few sketches. I didn’t even take many photos.


Two of the main street – didn’t quite get the right position for the Albion Hotel – another pub located on the bend in the road.


This photo was taken while standing on the street.


A few grand buildings – but wasn’t interested in sketching them as I was looking for something older.


Ah! This is what I want to sketch – Oddfellows Hall.


That was fun!


Back on the main street but the quieter section with a few run-down buildings. The hotel still had wreaths up – closed down at Christmas time?


Grenfell is famous as the birthplace of Henry Lawson – a very famous Australian poet. I had no desire to take a selfie with him!


My final exploration in Grenfell included some old gold mining relics…


I was really impressed that you could see down the shafts. I didn’t feel like sketching these and starting a new double-page spread – so just a few photos!

I’m yet to sketch a ‘poppet head’ but hope to do so sometime this trip. Poppet heads were used to haul equipment, ore, miners and hopefully gold up the shaft.


Interesting panel with a little about Lawson and the Goldfields.


And finally a little excerpt of his work ‘The Roaring Days”. As there was no one around I enjoyed reading this out loud.

And so ends another wonderful two days on this incredible road trip!


  • Pat D says:

    Greetings from the USA! I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying your road trip and commentary thru your beautiful country. You’ve given me new ideas for sketching in and around my own home town. While not from New Orleans your “verandahs” remind me of my visit there. I look forward to your daily emails. Thank you for a wonderful vacation for all of us especially during these pandemic times.

  • Laurence says:

    What a beautiful text by Henry Lawson in total harmony with the Australian context!
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Hasmin says:

    Thank you Liz. Your vivid travel record awakens my sleeping enthusiasm. So I started sketching, which has been paused for a long time, and especially your photos are a good guide. Thank you and look forward to sharing your good sketches and travel experiences in the future. Once again, I would like to express my gratitude.

  • Susan King says:

    Loving reading about your road trip. I looked for awhile on your blog because I think you mentioned which Bible version you read, but I couldn’t find it. Can you tell me, please?

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Susan. I used the Authorised version (old King James Version) and I’m currently reading through Daily Light on the Daily Path in my morning devotional time.

  • Jamie C says:

    Those verandas are fantastic! Must be a bit a bit challenging to sketch them all, though! Lol! You’ve got a lot of stunning towns!

  • Magdalena French says:

    Every day I look forward to receiving your email updates – am soooo envious that you are doing this trip that I’ve been dreaming of for ages and ages. Your sketches and little stories make all the places you visit come alive for me. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Magdalena!!!! I’ve been wanting to do this for ages. So it’s great to be happening 🙂

Leave a Reply