The Cowra Japanese Garden and Cultural Centre was built as a major tourist attraction for the town and it has become the symbol of peace and reconciliation between the people of Cowra and the people of Japan.
Featuring the largest Japanese Garden in the southern hemisphere, an outstanding collection of Japanese cultural and heritage items are also on show as well as the amazing bonsai collection.
"We host Japanese cultural activities and events in the garden and our gift shop is very popular with locals and visitors alike," said manager Shane Budge.
"Each month our exhibition room hosts a different local or regional artist, enabling them to sell their pieces that are on display."
Stage 1 of the garden opened in 1979, the second stage in 1986. There are 14 staff who work at the garden and a number of volunteers.
"We maintain our garden to the highest standards and maintain great relationships with all of our stakeholders," said Shane.
"As Cowra locals, our board and staff are vested in the community and the flow-on effects of the tourism industry for local business is immense.
"Cowra's economy has traditionally relied heavily on the agricultural industry, however the contribution by tourism is becoming much greater.
"The pandemic has had a mixed effect on our visitation. The first year of Covid-19 with the forced closure for two months resulted in very poor visitation numbers.
"The financial year just finished was much improved for us, as the Central West in general saw increased local and intra-state tourism as a result of state border restrictions.
"However, the recent Covid-19 outbreaks and Greater Sydney restrictions and lockdowns have once again severely impacted our numbers."
Shane believes its gardening team has to be one of, if not the best, gardening team in Australia.
"Our front line staff are friendly, welcoming and helpful, and our board is focused on the future of the garden for the betterment of the Cowra Community."
With a view to the future, the board is currently working on a strategic plan for the garden and would like to engage more with schools in the region.
"We hosted our inaugural autumn festival, Koyo Matsuri, this year and plan to grow this as an annual event focusing more on our cultural collection and the education of young people.
"Our garden is a major attraction for visitors to Cowra and the region and we host Japanese cultural workshops and demonstrations. Knowledge and understanding helps to build and grow the Australia-Japan relationship," said Shane.