During our stay in Cowra we visited other towns and one was Canowindra. On the day we visited it was quiet, but if we had picked April instead of March, we would have experienced an international balloon challenge. The above was copied from the advert for the balloon meet.
It was a lovely day, but the town was quiet, and I was able to stand in the middle of the road without fear of being run over while I fiddled with my camera. The population of the town is just over 2000 people according to the 2016 census, which would account for the lack of traffic.
Finns Building built in 1910
Royal Hotel, perhaps seen better days as a pub, but I was told they still operate as a restaurant.
This pub was built on the site of a previous pub called Robinsons’ Hotel which began life in the 1850’s. The Robinsons’ Hotel became famous in October 1863 when Ben Hall and his bushranger gang (think bandits) took over the hotel for three days.
Ben Hall 1837- 1865
They locked the local policeman in his own cell, none of the local people were hurt and the bushrangers gave the locals beer, blankets and entertainment. When they left, they paid for their time at the hotel and ‘expenses’ to the citizens. The point of the three days was to confirm that Ben Hall and his men could do what they wanted and that the police were unable to stop them.
By 1865 Ben Hall and his gang were classed as outlaws and could be shot on sight.
There was a £1000 reward on his head.
Which is approx. AUD $115,000 or USD $80,000 today.The Old Vic Inn, which is up the road from the Royal Hotel.
Originally built as a weatherboard building in 1865 and was called the Victoria Hotel. In 1908 it was upgraded on the promise of more traffic thanks to the railway arriving in town.
The hotel was closed in 1967 and remodelled as a convalescent home and later became a B&B.
Family butcher building, built in 1913
As we walked along the street, we could feel the history of the town. There were hardly any other people around, but as we strolled under a canopy a young man ‘befriended’ us – I think he just liked to speak to strangers.
He started talking and pointing our various places of interest and gave us information as to what happens at various time of the year and the visitors for the balloons. He told us that we were too early to see the hot air balloons but that at that time the town would be full of people.
We reached the end of the street and crossed to walk back to our car along the other side of the road, and the young man bid us goodbye, because he was going to a meeting. It was an interesting encounter that we would not have received in Sydney.
Had to take this photograph because it seemed just right in Canowindra.
Later we visited Forbes, which is a larger country town that Canowindra. It is thought that the town was named after the first chief justice of NSW Sir Francis Forbes in 1861 during a gold rush period.
Forbes Townhall – obviously a rich town when it was built.
Forbes Post Office.
Court House built in 1880 – still had the old coat of arms – Australia did not become a federation until 1901.
In the park across the road from the Court House was the war memorial, which listed the wars in which the locals had been involved.
WW one 1914-1918
WW two 1939-1945
Korean war 1950-1953
Vietnam 1962- 1973
East Timor 1999-2013
Iraq 2003 – 2009
A fine record of service for a town with a population of about 8,500 in the 2016 census.
During the gold rush there was a tent city located at Forbes with a population of over 30,000 people.
A peaceful picture of the bandstand in the same park as the memorial, with Maureen under the palm tree.
To bring the bushranger story of Ben Hall to a close he was shot dead at Billabong Creek about 20 km (12 miles) outside Forbes in 1865 two days before his 28th birthday. He was buried in Forbes Cemetery.
The statue of Ben Hall outside Forbes’ information centre.
Ben Hall was surprised at his camp site at Billabong Creek. When he woke from sleep, he saw that he was surrounded by eight men (six policemen and two trackers), the police opened fire and shot him over thirty times as he tried to escape.
He was unable to return fire because the first shots from the police severed his gun belt as he attempted to run.
The picture is a newspaper drawing created shortly after his death.
If you wish to know more of Ben Hall, I can recommend this book.
Just for the record I have known Nick for some years, (he lives in Sydney) and I am recommending his book for the quality of his writing and research, not for any other reason.
He is Scottish by birth, if you are wondering about his name.
When I drive around the old smaller towns of Australia, I can’t help but think of