Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Saturday at Canowindra

Saturday is the big day of the Balloon Festival, which actually runs for a week.  The days start early for balloonists, as that is when the weather is calm.  I was snug in my bed and didn't feel like getting up with the sparrows.

Eventually, the world seemed to awaken and we could hear people out and about and that there were balloons in the air.  Although they look like they glide silently, there is a frequent roar from the gas burners.  I stuck my head out of the van, dressed in my flannie jarmies, to be greeted by this lovely sight.

This group of balloons were taking passengers for a ride.  Notice the large sized  baskets.

Mick had got up and dressed by now and headed down to the main oval in the showground.  I was still in my jarmies when he came to get me.  "Don't worry", he told me, "There are lots of people in their jarmies down there".

The reason for the excitement was that "The Frog" balloon was being inflated.  Well, I saw a couple of other people in the jarmies, but not "lots".  After a little while I went and got dressed.

By the time I returned many balloons had arrived back in town from their early start somewhere out in the countryside.  Canowindra has the perfect geography for ballooning, having gentle hills and lots of open spaces.  The farmers are friendly towards the ones that land in their paddocks and are apparently rewarded with a bottle of champagne.  I loved this view of loads of balloons in the air and everyone going about their business as if it was the most normal thing to see in the world.

Meanwhile, the frog was gradually being inflated.  It is rather large and then has those legs to fill up with air.

Then, to everyone's delight, another balloon started to be inflated.

Before long the frog and hummingbird were both ready to take off.  We had seen the hummingbird last year, but hadn't seen it fly.

Not the most flattering view, but we were at the whim of the breeze.

Aren't they spectacular.

They didn't stay up very long, but we all enjoyed seeing them.

Now, how to fill the day before the evening's events?  Why not go exploring on foot again.

There are some lovely homes.

And a quirky letterbox or two.

We found a nice coffee shop when it was time to recharge the batteries. Yummo.  This is such a bad (but rather nice) habit we have when we are away from home.  I suppose all things in moderation is OK.

Every man and his dog seemed to be holding a garage sale.  Why not?  It is the perfect weekend to draw a crowd.  We bought a couple of little things.

We finally made it back to the main street, where some buskers were performing.

And a stage coach trundled past.

We ended up back at the markets, where there were some more stalls.  No, we didn't bring one of these sculptures home.

We did partake in a free ten minute ukulele  lesson.  We learned "Row Row Row Your Boat", with all of one note!  It was fun, but I don't think we will be rushing out to buy one each.

We wandered back down the crooked street.  I did find a patchwork shop with some cute caravan and motorcycle fabrics.  Score.  Fail on the fabric diet front though.

What are we to do when we see this sort of sign?

Of course we had to take a ride around the streets.

A coach eye view.

There was still plenty of the day left, so next stop was the museum, which we have visited before and is very good.

Lots to see there.

Mick wanted to take another look at the old railway line, so here he is "walking the line".

More of the rustic buildings.

We even had a chat to a kookaburra on the way home.

The main event was on Saturday afternoon and evening, so we wandered down to the main oval.  This was quite different from last year, when the proceedings were held at the sports ground over the road.  This year's version was very convenient for all us campers.

Firstly we were entertained by the local dancing troupe.

These littlies were too cute.

Over the back there was the Fossil Museum car on show.

The food market was a very popular venue all night.

As the evening closed in there was a parade of the balloonists with their baskets on trailers letting off their burners, creating quite a spectacle.  The crowd was growing all the time.

A stall was selling these blow up suits.  They didn't look all that comfortable.

Then, finally, what we had all been waiting for......The Balloon Glow.

Unfortunately, the wind pick up and it was too hard to keep the balloons under control, so the display was cut short.  It was still rather stunning.

Also, unlike last year, the entertainment continued beyond the balloon glow.    We were entertained by Peter Byrne and his show "Forever Diamond".  He has been acting as a Neil Diamond tribute artist for over 20 years, and was rather good.  He certainly had everyone up and singing.

You forget what a large catalogue of songs Neil Diamond had, and we surprised ourselves with how many of the words we remembered.

After that, it was time for bed. It certainly had been a busy and full day.  Well worth travelling up for the weekend. 

Monday, 21 May 2018

Off to Canowindra

Now that life is going to settle down a bit it is time to do a bit of a catch up on what we have been up to over the last few weeks.  

Autumn is the best time of the year in this part of the world so there are always lots of things going on, and we like to take in as much as we can.

Let's go back to Friday 27 April, when we headed off in our caravan once again, travelling all of one and a half hour from home to the lovely little town of Canowindra.

The trees are meant to be sporting their colourful foliage by then, but this year being so hot and dry they were only just starting to turn.  

We set up camp in the  local showground, along with many other vans, for the annual Canowindra International Balloon Festival.  We attended last year, but only travelled up and back on the Saturday.

Once we were set up we went exploring on foot.  Canowindra is a place we often call into for a cuppa and a wander up the main street.  This time we ventured further afield.  There is a disused railway line and we found an old turntable.  Looking at the number of goods sheds it must have had quite a substantial rail precinct in former times.

The main street has lovely old buildings and is famous for being crooked and for the bushranger Ben Hall and his gang holding up the town and partying in the pub for three days.

In the hall we came across some markets where there were some very clever people.  Maybe some bits and bobs came away with us.

The town really embraces the balloon festival, with children's art festooning some of the shop windows.

Eventually, we headed back towards camp, through this park.  We've often driven past, but never been in the park before, with its lovely palm trees.  For a small town, they have two great parks.

The reason we were heading back is that the balloons were due to have an afternoon flight.  It was a tad breezy, so some opted not to fly.  It is quite a job rolling them out and untying them prior to inflation.

Then they wait for the OK to start proceedings.  The red flag means not yet.  As it was breezy, they were wondering if it would be followed by a black flag, which means that the proceedings are cancelled.

However, it was followed by a yellow flag which means start in five minutes.

And now it was all systems go.

And we huff and we puff.....

And keep huffing and puffing...

Nearly there...

And we have lift off....

And we're away.

The team on this balloon seemed to be speaking French, and having watched this take off, I decided it was my favourite for the weekend.

Meanwhile the oval was full of balloons getting ready to take off.

And they're on their way and it was all over from our perspective.  Several people will chase them, but we went back to camp.

The day ended with a lovely sunset.

After dinner, we joined our friendly neighbours around a fire.  What a wonderful way to end a fun day.