Going ballooning at least once in your lifetime is probably on your bucket list. I know it’s been on mine.
Of course, we see the world from up high when we’re travelling on a plane, or when we’ve scaled a mountain. But there is surely no view quite like looking down upon a beautiful landscape as you glide, ever so gently, through the sky – followed by a celebratory glass of champagne to commemorate the sights.
And I can now confirm: yep, there’s no view like it.
To mark the September long weekend, my fiancé and I took a hot air balloon flight with Global Ballooning Australia. The company operates daily sunrise flights in two locations: Melbourne and the Yarra Valley.
While Yarra Valley flights can be done after a 45-minute drive from Melbourne, we thought we'd make a weekend of it by spending a couple of nights away in the wine region, punctuating our stay with a balloon ride.
First up, we were impressed by the entire process leading up to the big day. After booking in, I jumped on my smartphone and downloaded the company's app. It had literally everything I needed to know about my upcoming flight, as well as basics about ballooning and safety information. Nifty.
It meant I didn't need to stress about making last-minute calls to find out if my scheduled trip is going ahead. Ballooning, after all, is very weather dependent. There is a small chance a ride will need to be rescheduled if conditions are forecast to be unsafe or just too miserable - and thank goodness for that, because you want to be up there with the best possible view.
So, what this app does is notify you the evening before. On Saturday night as we were heading out for an early 6pm dinner, a notification popped up: the flight was going ahead. Our listed itinerary was as follows: arrive at Balgownie Estate at 4.30am. From here, after a quick cuppa, we are driven off to the launch site and we help set up our balloon. Once ready to go, we take off and fly for about an hour. After that, we land, pack up and head back to the winery for a champagne buffet breakfast. Perfect.