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.

Balloon adventures

The best way to see the town 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 red earth at dawn. Time your visit to coincide with the Canowindra International Balloon Challenge in April, a colourful week-long spectacle.

Balloons taking off in the Canowindra International Balloon Challenge

Canowindra International Balloon Challenge

Step back in time

Meander through Canowindra's 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. A must-visit is the Canowindra Historical Museum, housed in a former school building.

Outside the T.J. Finn Store (cafe and emporium), Canowindra

Exploring the heritage-listed streets of Canowindra

Stop for a cool drink at the Royal Hotel Canowindra, built in 1910 on the site of Ben Hall’s most daring escapade. Join Blind Freddy’s Bushranger Tours and explore the myths of Hall and his gang. Your guide will step you through the gold-rush era of the 1860s as you explore the locations and unpack the myths.

In 1955, a rock bed full of thousands of rare Devonian fossils was uncovered by chance near Canowindra. 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 of their type in the world. Many of these are now on display at the intriguing, award-winning Age of Fishes Museum

Children enjoying a visit to the Age of Fishes Museum in Canowindra, Orange Area, Country NSW

Age of Fishes Museum, Canowindra

Food & wine

Well-known for acclaimed local vineyards, fresh produce and culinary festivals, Canowindra is perfectly situated between the Cowra and Orange wine regions. Enjoy wine tasting with a view over the vineyard at Wallington Wines or stay in one of the restored on-site cottages 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.

Couple enjoying a wine and olive tasting experience with Sam Stratham of Rosnay Organic Wines, Canowindra

Rosnay Organic Wines, Canowindra

Galleries & shopping

Explore Gaskill Street for a taste of old-world charm and local experiences. Don’t miss the Melissa Barber Studio for renowned prints that merge photographic realism with a distinctively eastern influence. At Perennialle Plants Emporium you’ll find rare collections of shrubs sourced from around the world. Finns Store is home to local artworks, wines and clothing.

Couple shopping for homewares at Finns Store emporium in Canowindra, Orange Area, Country NSW

Couple shopping for homewares at Finns Store emporium

Getting there & where to stay

Canowindra is a 30m 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. Accommodation includes cottages, farm stays, a caravan park and the historic Blue Jacket Motel.

Plan your trip