The discovery of 360 million-year-old fossils of previously-unknown species of fish, a party thrown in 1863, and lashings of hot air have combined to put the small mid-western NSW slopes town of Canowindra on the international map.
The fossil find in 1956 has built the town a museum of considerable scientific significance, the three-day party to which notorious bush-rangers Ben Hall and Frank Gardiner 'invited' the entire populace has cemented the village standing in Oz folklore, and the hot air has confirmed Canowindra as the balloon capital of Australia.
The annual hot air balloon festival in April, in fact, sees the town’s population swell from 1700 to 30,000. Fossils, balloons and bushrangers’ bashes apart, Canowindra is a major canola and beef producer and is notable for the heritage-listed buildings that line its uniquely-curved main street which follows a trail blazed by bullock wagons.
The town's Pinnaroo Cattle Centre introduces visitors to 1400kg bulls, the mysteries of artificial insemination and miniature donkeys and horses. You can sample the local wine at Hamilton's Bluff Vineyard just out of town.