On the Midland Highway about 16km south-west of Shepparton in north-western Victoria, the Tatura district was the host to a swag of the 18,000 Italian prisoners of war who languished in this country during the early 1940s. The guards at Italian POW camps - including the one at Murchison, about 26km down the road - were not noted for their diligence. In fact one prisoner managed to escape for long enough to become salesman of the month for a cosmetic company in Melbourne. In another incident, guards of a day-release work gang got so drunk that the prisoners had to drive themselves back to camp. Tatura has a collection of World War II POW camps memorabilia, and there are Italian and German war graves at Murchison. A leisurely drive to the east takes you to Dhurrungile Homestead, hub of a vast pastoral property opened up in 1836 and among the largest rural homes built in Australia. Completed in 1871 for James Winter, the 65-room mansion was used to detain German officers held in Australia as World War II prisoners.