[Kelsey Sutor]

When you’re a kid, it’s a bit of fun to be ringing the Peace Bell. You tend to ring the bell a lot, just to be an absolute nuisance.

[Bill West]

It certainly makes nice noise. And it does echo and ring, which causes it to sort of sit in the mind a little bit, but I think it’s just an opportunity to do something, which is tangible about world peace, reconciliation. I’m Bill West, I’m the Mayor of Cowra Shire Council, born and bred in Cowra.

Peace Bell is an interesting component to our town. It’s a replica of the one which was first presented to the United Nations, and is in the forecourt of the United Nations building in New York.

[Rod Blume]

1954, I think, the first bell was presented to the United Nations. It was a gift from the Japanese people. I’m Rod Blume. In 1991, I became Mayor for three years. The World Peace Bell Association itself had to come to terms with placing it in a town and district of a population of about 12,000 people, as distinct from a city with four million people. And when they became, I guess, more aware of the relationship between Cowra and Japan, finally they accepted that it was all right.

[Bill West]

The authorities, the powers who were in charge of the World Peace Bell Association provided Cowra with the Australian Chapter of the World Peace Bell, which is normally something, an honour bestowed on capital cities.

[Rod Blume]

I got a, I suppose in those days it was a fax, to say that the Bell had been delivered to the Australian Ambassador, that was at Yokohama, and I was to arrange for its shipping. With the packing case and everything, it was about 400 kilograms. Well, I went to my friend Len Oliver, who was the owner of Oliver Toyota, and I said to him, do you think Toyota might put it on the back of a truck? Anyway, within, I don’t know, a very short space of time, a couple of days at most, Toyota agreed to transport the bell for free, so we drove to Sydney, in our fortunately, Toyota Hilux, and we took it back to Cowra.

The bell housing, the pavilion, I thought that a more Australian look would define it differently to other Peace Bells around the world. The floor of the pavilion is rough hewn granite, and Cowra is the Aboriginal word for rocks. There was a symbolism there that attracted me. The school students were taught how to make the tiles, glaze them, and my son Richard has one of the tiles there.

[Bill West]

So there’s been a great effort to embrace our community in its construction and its establishment, and it’s something that we encourage people to ring at any time they go past it.

[Kelsey Sutor]

It’s made out of, you know, melted down coins. It’s one of the few in the world that we have. And as you get older you realise the significance of having a Peace Bell in Cowra.

[Bill West]

Should be rung, and rung often, not to be rung when you’re angry or cranky at someone, but rather with that mindset of peace, and reconciliation, and good will and harmony.

Producer/Sound Design: Masako Fukui

Music Credits: Tranquility by Kevin MacLeod (freemusicarchive.orgCC by 3.0

Photo Credits: Photo 1: Cowra Mayor Bill West, Japanese Ambassador Reiichiro Takahashi with Sydney Sakura Choir at the Peace Bell, 2019; Photo by Mayu Kanamori

Photo 2: Pottery tiles decorating the Peace Bell pavilion made by Cowra students and community; Photo by Mayu Kanamori

Photo 3: Former Mayor Rod Blume with a miniature Peace Bell, a gift from the World Peace Bell Association, 2018; Photo by Masako Fukui

The Cowra Voices Audio Archive Project 2023

Cowra Council is the copyright holder of all the audio works in the Cowra Voices Audio Archive. If you would like to reuse or copy any of the materials in this Archive, please contact Cowra Council. Australian copyright law is set out in the Copyright Act 1968 (Commonwealth).

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