Up, up and away in Canowindra

Friday, 21st April, 2017

The Cabonne Country Balloon Glow is amazing to see. Photo: Mick Samson

YOU don’t need to travel to Turkey or Myanmar to see hundreds of hot-air balloons in the sky.

Canowindra in the Central West, welcomes a host of brightly coloured balloons every April for the Canowindra International Balloon Challenge.

This year’s challenge runs for eight days and kicked off on April 18.

Up in the air, pilots will battle it out in competition flights.

The tasks test the pilots’ skills in manoeuvring their balloons over a set course with goals, targets, scoring areas, time and distance limits.

Balloons launch from 6-6:30am daily and flights can take up to two hours.

Visitors can join the aerodynamic action by booking a commercial balloon ride.

Balloon Joy Flights takes visitors up to see the sunrise over the valleys before treating guests to a complimentary champagne breakfast.

There’s plenty to do on the ground as well. Spectators are encouraged to follow the balloons and watch them drop their markers, though it’s important not to touch the latter as it can interfere with the event.

The week is filled with other events such as art exhibitions, dinners and meet-the-pilot sessions.

And once the sun starts to set on April 22, the Cabonne Country Balloon Glow will light up the sky. There will be twilight wine, food and craft markets, roving fire performers and fire dancers, music and dance groups against the backdrop of illuminated hot-air balloons.

Canowindra is about a 4½-hour drive west of Sydney, 30 minutes north of Cowra.

The charming town is home to about 2000 people, various art galleries, cute cafes and a heritage-listed main street.

A major drawcard is the Age of Fishes Museum, which houses a 360 million-year-old fossil found in Canowindra in 1955, as well as hands-on exhibits.

The town is a great base for exploring the region's fresh food and wine producers.

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