An Introduction To Canowindra

Canowindra is a historic township located near Cowra in the central west of New South Wales, Australia in Cabonne Shire. Canowindra is on the Belubula River. The curving main street, Gaskill Street, is partly an urban conservation area. At the 2006 census, Canowindra had a population of 1,499. The name of the town is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning 'a home'.


Modern Canowindra
The Royal Hotel is on the site of another inn owned by Robinson and the plaque on the wall indicates present day understanding that this was the inn where Ben Hall's gang had their spree. Other notable buildings include the nursing home, the Junction Hotel, Finn's Building, the Victoria Hotel, the former Bank of NSW and the former CBC Bank. The Trading Post, a homewares shop, won the inland tourism award for 2006.











Canowindra is also popularly known as the Balloon Capital of Australia. One of the largest ballooning festivals in Australia used to take place here every April. This was called Marti's Fiesta, which brought together people from local, national and international locations in a celebration of Central West hospitality and goodwill. In 2010, the Canowindra Challenge brought together a contingent of balloonist enthusiasts from around the globe to build upon the principles of Marti's Fiesta, bringing businesses together to support a week long event of ballooning competitions and skill based activities.


The use of location enabled (GPS), point-of-view camera technologies was combined with live-to-web broadcasts via an online streaming platform for viewers to share in the spectacle and to join in the event virtually and for free.  This event coincides with food and wine events which bring in the greater Cabonne and surrounding districts during the April period each year.





Canowindra is the site of one of the world's great fossil discoveries from the late Devonian epoch. A chance discovery by a road worker in 1956 uncovered a rich find of 360 million year old fish fossils, dating from the Devonian period in the Paleozoic era. The "Canowindra slab" was removed to the Australian Museum, Sydney. The fish had been buried when trapped in a pool of water that dried up, stranding two armoured antiarch placoderms, Remigolepis walkeri and Bothriolepis yeungae, and Canowindra grossi, a lobe-finned crossopterygian fish, with two rare juvenile arthrodire placoderms, Groenlandaspis species.

No further fossils had been recovered until January 1993, when a trial dig on the site using an excavator rediscovered the fossil stratum, where the mass mortality of fishes was preserved in detail. Specimens can be viewed in the specially established Age of Fishes Museum, with scientific support and funding from the Australian Museum. The Canowindra site has now been listed as part of Australia's National Heritage because of its international scientific importance.



The Bendy Street Group


One of Canowindra's unique features is the curving nature of Gaskill Street - the main street of town. It is from this feature that the Bendy Street Group has derived its name. Originally formed by local businesses as a type of "Chamber of Commerce", the Bendy Street Group has developed to encompass a whole of town approach. To date the group has developed successful submissions for funding for the upgrade of Memorial Park, veranda post replacement, Historic Town Centre signage, interpretive signage for Historically significant sites, and has facilitated funding for sporting and cemetery projects.


The group has also a further two submissions in the assessment phase seeking a further $500,000 in funding for the community through the federal government and is also seeking a further $75,000 through Cabonne Shire Council. The Group has regular public meetings at The Royal Hotel to ensure its direction is guided by the popular vote. Small working parties also conduct frequent meetings in a disused bakery within the village, developing submissions and formulating work plans for the communities desired projects. Outside of the funding arena, the Bendy Street Group has organised the Bendy Street Bazaar, - a community event to raise the profile of Canowindra, has met regularly with council to discuss town planning and economic development issues and has organised and chaired the Canowindra Community Consultation with Cabonne Shire Council.



Notable Canowindrans


  Rhyan Grant - Footballer currently playing for Sydney FC in the A-League
  Mitchell Sargent - Rugby League currently playing for Castleford Tigers in the Super League







A post office opened at Canowindra in 1847 with mail coming from Carcoar, but the village was handicapped as part of a main route to the lower Lachlan, first by the lack of a bridge and later by the construction of the railway to Orange. Today the main street has an old-world air, with its kerbside verandah posts lining the dog-leg course of what was once a bullock team track.

In October 1863, Ben Hall's gang took over the village for three days and entertained the whole population, as well as some stray travellers, all herded into the inn. An account of the incident was reported in the Bathurst Times, also quoted in the Maitland Mercury. A monument to Ben Hall, on the site of Robinson's inn, the Travellers' Rest, was erected in 1951, but evidently further research has indicated that the events recorded here happened at the inn on the other side of the river.






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