CANOWINDRA TRAVEL GUIDE
The hot air ballooning capital of Australia
Canowindra is an interesting and historic small village just over half an hour west of Orange and 20 minutes north of Cowra. Its historic bendy main street has changed little over the years and has been used for many period movies and television series. One exception to “period” is an episode of the British detective series Morse. The village’s commercial areas are listed by the National Trust as a Heritage Conservation Area.
Of great interest is the area’s ancient history in its Devonian period fish fossils. A discovery in the 1950s of 360 million years ago fish fossils nine kilometres south-west of town has seen the establishment of the world-famous Age of Fishes Museum and the Canowindra site being listed as part of Australia’s National Heritage because of its international scientific importance.
First Saturday each month. 8am to 12 noon.
Each year the skies above Canowindra come alive with the roar of the burners and visual spectacular provided when mass hot air balloons take flight in competition, joy and commercial flying.
During the Canowindra Balloon Challenge, the town receives over 10 thousand visitors to see the balloons. The wide-open spaces, ideal weather conditions, and friendly local people make this an ideal area for hot air ballooning.
Long after the age of fishes, Canowindra’s European settlement begun as early as 1829. In 1831 James Collits had established himself on land at ‘Canoundra’.
Soon after the settlement was formed grew in an unplanned manner around the 1849 Canowindra Inn.
Gaskill Street, the winding main street, is evidence of lack of formal planning and has become part of Canowindra’s charm.
Over the years Canowindra attracted the interest of wanted and unwanted visitors including bushranger Ben Hall, his gang and Johnny Gilbert, who in 1862 took over Robinson’s Hotel. They took the town’s residents hostage for a three-day-long celebration.
Folklore says that the gang treated their hostages well and even covered the expenses of their party. Today the Royal hotel stands on the site of the Robinson Hotel of their spree.
> Canowindra has a population of just over 1,500 and was established in 1844 and the first Post Office was built in 1844
> Not long after in 1863 famous bushranger Ben Hall held up the whole town – twice!
> Canowindra is a typical sleepy country town whose people are proud and supportive of their community.
> The twisty heritage-listed main street has been used for many period film shoots and featured in an episode of Morse.
> The yearly hot-air balloon festival is ranked as one of the top hot-air balloon events in the world and attracts international competitors and visitors.
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