The first time I ever went up in a hot air balloon we had a crash landing. Ok – maybe that’s a bit melodramatic but I did end up with a bloody knee and a whole bunch of people on top of me as the basket drug along the ground. I called it a crash landing, the captain called it an ‘engergy disapation landing’…tomato…tomaaato. However, somehow I’ve been able to shake that experience off and get back off the ground. Why would I do such a thing?
Because floating silently above the ground like a drone taking pictures is just that much fun.
Doing photography from above is one of my favorite things to do. I must be the luckiest person around as I was able to go hot air ballooning in Australia not once, but twice! I feel like pretty soon I’ll be captaining them myself! Then again if I want to avoid more crash landings, it’s probably best if I stick to the photography.
Gold Coast in Queensland
If you are going to float above the beautiful Australian landscapes you have to get up early. The first morning in Southern Queensland near the Gold Coast I had my alarm set for 4 AM. I groggily woke up, put on warm clothes, gathered up all of my electronics and slept walk my way to the Hot Air Gold Coast bus that would take us away from the coast and into the hinterlands for a sunrise float. Luckily it was an hour drive so I was able to sleep on the bus after the safety video.
We arrived as they were filling the balloon. In the inky blue darkness all of a sudden you’d see a bright flame in the distance. It looked like a fire breathing dragon with knights surrounding it trying to get it under control. Maybe I had been reading too much Game of Thrones before bedtime? As the balloon filled up, it slowly lifted off the ground and became upright. The guide called us over one by one to climb into the basket. I was pretty loaded down by all of my camera equipment, but I managed to sling my leg over the basket somehow.
The ride was spectacular – and the whole time I had the song “Up Up and Away in my Beautiful Balloon” running through my head. We climbed quite high on this flight. You could see all the way to the Gold Coast once you got up there in altitude. The sunrise was a bit cloudy – but the views were still great. We were able to see the mountains of the Great Dividing Range as well as a number of farms and small towns. We had a nice ‘safe’ landing and then spent time helping them load the balloon back on the truck. After that it was off to a champagne breakfast at a local winery.
Outback Ballooning Northern Territory
My second hot air flight was over the outback in the Northern Territory with Outback Ballooning. This was also a sunrise flight and we started in the complete darkness in the dusty orange outback outside of Alice Springs. This was a smaller group and a bit smaller basket. The sunrise was a golden orange without a cloud in the sky. It lit up the outback with long mystical shadows. This pilot took us much lower – in fact so low that it made me pretty nervous based on my first balloon experience. However he had it under control the whole time. We were even able to chase a few kangaroos through the outback!
At the end of this flight we all helped pack up the balloon again and we even got to witness the captain delicately lift the balloon and basket back onto the truck flatbed – not an easy task. Afterward we were all treated to champagne and biscuits to toast our safe flight.
These were two iconic places and landscapes to capture from above. And the good news is that it looks like my days of crash landings are past me!
If you could go ballooning anywhere in the world – where would you go? Please answer in the comments!
More Australian Ballooning Info:
Hot Air Gold Coast Website – www.hotair.com.au/goldcoast
Cost: Sunrise ballooning and vineyard breakfast $250 AU
Outback Ballooning Website – www.outbackballooning.com.au
Cost: 30 minutes $290 AU
Disclosure: I was a guest of the Tourism NT and Queensland Tourism during my time in the Australia. However all the opinions expressed her are solely my own!
By Shirley Mauch August 5, 2014 - 6:48 am
Wow Sherry, this is just so pretty!
If you ever get a chance, try hot air ballooning or a helicopter ride over the Kimberley Coast. It’s like Gold Coast, but craggier, and it’s equally beautiful
By Sherry August 7, 2014 - 11:48 pm
I’d love to do that – but have to figure out a way back to Australia first!
By Laura @Travelocafe August 5, 2014 - 8:15 am
Wow! Great shots! It’s one of my dreams to fly in a balloon. This year I had the opportunity to fly for the first time in a helicopter (over London) and I hope I will get to do the balloon flight sooner rather than later.
By Sherry August 7, 2014 - 11:49 pm
Laura – I hope you get to try ballooning! I also love helicopters – but I really love how still and quiet balloons are…you really are floating…
By Lance August 5, 2014 - 9:51 am
I’m scared to death of heights, but I love ballooning. Somehow, it just doesn’t effect me. I love your photos!
By Sherry August 7, 2014 - 11:50 pm
Lance – I’m the same way. I’m scared of heights too – yet balloons don’t bother me…weird huh?
By Katie @ Second-Hand Hedgehog August 5, 2014 - 1:56 pm
Incredible photos! And I definitely know what you mean about the peacefulness of travelling by hot air balloon. It’s so calm and quiet – almost like an out of body experience. I went up in a balloon in the desert outside Dubai, and what amazed me was how clearly we could hear the sounds drifting up from the ground. (Mind you, we did also have an ‘energy dissipation landing’ or whatever it’s supposed to be called…) http://www.secondhandhedgehog.com/2014/03/the-camel-ride-that-wasnt.html
By Mary @ Green Global Travel August 5, 2014 - 3:13 pm
Wow, amazing that you got to do it twice!! Incredible photos from above! Thanks for sharing!
By Darlene Foster August 5, 2014 - 8:41 pm
I love Hot Air Ballooning. I’ve only done it once outside Vancouver but it was amazing. I would love to do it over the Serengeti. I have heard that is spectacular. Your photos are wonderful as always.
By Chanel | Cultural Xplorer August 10, 2014 - 6:20 pm
Wow! Stunning Sherry! I have riding in a hot air balloon on my list of things to do and your pictures made me want to do it even more!
I love that you said ‘Everyone else in the basket had a significant other with them – and I had my cameras’… that is me more often than not haha.
Great post! 😀
By Hanne Hellvik August 22, 2014 - 11:02 am
That is so amazing Sherry! I always wanted to take a hot air balloon in Africa seeing all the animals from above. Now, doing this in Australia is high up on my list.
By Bhavya August 25, 2014 - 4:45 am
Just today, I was watching Up and then, this post 🙂
By Lily Lau September 8, 2014 - 9:41 am
Yes! Amazing photos Sherry! I wish I could have joined you and your camera, how do you do to not have vertigo!? I completely admire you (:
By Sherry September 8, 2014 - 12:37 pm
I”m not sure why the height doesn’t bother me in a balloon – normally I’m scared of heights – however I think becuase I have a railing/basket – it doesn’t bother me as much! I hate narrow ledges though – which means I”ll never be an Olympic balance beam champion…shucks.