Known as the hot air balloon capital of Australia – more flights are said to take place here annually than anywhere else in the country – the historic village of Canowindra is home to airborne adventures, acclaimed vineyards, fascinating colonial history and a unique collection of prehistoric fossils. Located near the charming country towns of Orange and Cowra, linger longer in this Country NSW region to truly get away from it all.
Arguably the best way to gain some perspective of Canowindra is from above. Join Aussie Balloontrek or Balloon Joy Flights and watch the sun paint the sky orange and pink as you drift over the patchworked countryside at dawn. Time your visit to coincide with the Canowindra International Balloon Challenge in April, a colourful week-long spectacle that has become the largest of its kind in the country.
Bushrangers once played havoc in Canowindra, and they left their mark throughout the town. Meander through the heritage-listed centre while learning about its fascinating colonial history, including the fact that the whole town was bailed up in a pub for three days by bushranger Ben Hall and his gang in 1863.
Exploring the heritage-listed streets of Canowindra
Somewhat older is the rock bed full of thousands of rare Devonian fossils that was uncovered by chance near Canowindra in 1955. It contained fossils of bizarre fish with crushing jaws and armour from 360 million years ago, long before dinosaurs roamed the planet, which are considered to be some of the best-preserved of their type in the world. Many of these are now on display at the intriguing, award-winning Age of Fishes Museum.
Canowindra enjoys a prime position between the Cowra and Orange wine regions. But it has a bounty of its own, including a cache of acclaimed vineyards, artisan producers and makers… and culinary festivals to show them all off. Enjoy wine tasting with a view over the vineyard at Wallington Wines, or stay in the restored homestead or glamping tent after a tasting at Rosnay Organic Vineyard. Famous for their award-winning pinot gris, Antonio’s Wines now produce a fine range of distinctive varietals to sample.
Canowindra is a 30min drive north of Cowra and 50min southwest of Orange. From Sydney, the drive through the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains is a little over four hours. You can also fly to Orange Airport and rent a car.
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the Traditional Owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.