As Canowindra’s Balloon Challenge went on its own for the first time as a certified international event this week, Mary Anderson recalled the event’s pioneering days when local farmers and their livestock gazed skyward with some trepidation.
“My husband welcomed the balloons landing on our property off Cargo Road,” Mary says, “but used to warn them off two strict no-go areas – our piggery and the lambing ewes.
“It was OK most years, but on one occasion a balloon came down right over the pigs, and the pilot hit the burners so hard to lift back up that the blast sent the pigs and piglets actually bursting through fences to escape the roaring monster.”
Of course that rarely happens these days, and with the iconic Balloon Glow and Key Grab yet to come at the weekend, organisers are describing this year’s Challenge and 19th Australian National Balloon Championships as a dramatic takeoff for spectacular new growth in the coming years.
“We’ve had 26 balloons from all over Australia and Japan, Canada and the USA competing this year, including all of Australia’s 15 or so professional pilots,” challenge committee chairman Arthur Falconer told The Phoenix.
The Challenge climaxes on Saturday evening with the Cabonne Wine and Food night market and Balloon Glow at the Sports Oval, followed on Sunday morning with the Orange Motor Group Key Grab starting at 6.30am at Hamiltons Bluff Vineyard.
By Derek Maitland