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

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.

Balloons taking off in the Canowindra International Balloon Challenge

Canowindra International Balloon Challenge, Canowindra

Step back in time

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.

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. You can then read more at the fascinating Canowindra Historical Society and Museum, housed in a former school building.

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

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

Age of Fishes Museum, Canowindra

Food & wine

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.

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

Rosnay Organic Wines, Canowindra

Galleries & shopping

Canowindra’s main thoroughfare, Gaskill Street delivers old-world charm and modern experiences in equal measure. Don’t miss The Melissa Barber Galleries for stunning prints that merge photographic realism with a distinctively eastern influence. Finns Store is also home to local artworks, as well as wine and clothing. And at Perennialle Plants Nursery & Emporium you’ll find rare collections of shrubs sourced from around the world

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

Finns Store emporium, Canowindra

Where to stay

Accommodation in Canowindra includes cottages, farm stays like Everview Retreat, a caravan park and the historic Blue Jacket Motel.

Cheese platter and champagne overlooking the vineyard at Everview Retreat, Canowindra

Everview Retreat, Canowindra

Getting there

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.

Plan your trip