The magic of Melbourne in a hot-air balloon

November 14, 2011 in Australia,Places,Victoria

Every so often, I’d wake up to the sunlight streaming through my window and stretch out to see hot-air balloons rising up over the curve of the Luna Park roller coaster. Floating above the city, against a backdrop of the rising sun, the balloons seemed like something out of a fairy tale.

Hot air balloons over Melbourne, Australia at sunrise

Melbourne is one of the few cities in the world where hot-air balloons can fly over consistently: the perfect chance to score a birds-eye view of the sprawling city.

The harshness of a 4:30 a.m. meeting was dulled with a couple of Nespressos, and the news that the weather was perfect for a flight. We piled into a van, heading to a park just minutes from the city centre.

Hot air balloon being blown up in melbourne, Australia

With a full moon looming over an empty field, we watched as the balloon slowly took shape. As the flame grew, we clambered into the basket (10 of us, plus the pilot could stand comfortably) and loosened our ties to the earth.

Hot air balloons over Melbourne, Australia at sunrise

Hot air balloons over Melbourne, Australia at sunrise

Soaring above the skyscrapers, the university grounds, the sprawling cemetery was surreal. A bit of suspended disbelief is necessary to avoid the obvious freak-out: you’re hundreds of meters above the ground, with nothing to stop you from falling over, kept up by simply an oversized lighter.

Hot air balloons over Melbourne, Australia at sunrise

But the view is enough to render you speechless. I’m glad I decided not to take my phone up into the balloon with me; with nothing to distract me, no urge to share this moment via text, I was able to take a deep breath and say a proper farewell to the beautiful city I love. I spotted the outline of my apartment building next to Luna Park, my favorite picnic spot in the Botanic Gardens, the hipster streets of Fitzroy and Collingwood.

Hot air balloons landing in Melbourne, Australia at sunrise

As we rapidly moved closer to ground, we hovered above balconies and backyards. We waved hello to kids getting ready for school, dog owners out on a morning walk. The grins on everyone’s faces as they spotted us in the midst of their Friday morning routine was brilliant, a reminder of just how magical the combination of hot air, nylon and a basket can be.

Picture This Ballooning kindly offered me a discount on my flight and breakfast, a wonderful spread at the Sofitel complete with champagne! 

  • Maggie High

    Hot air ballooning is so magical and surreal! I took a ride with my husband a while back and it was breathtaking. We left early in the morning (as you did) and floated above the hills and fields of Napa. We grazed through the air enjoying the California landscape below before landing in a field with a galloping white horse. I think we scared it: poor thing!

  • Wow… What a breath-taking experience. I’m putting this on the top of my list of things to do!

  • Gorgeous photos that I am sure are only a small glimpse of how wonderful this experience was!

  • Lovely photos, Christine! I went up in my first hot air balloon in Monument Valley (Utah) this summer, and it was an amazing experience. Yours looks like it was great, too! And what a way to bid Melbourne farewell.

  • Anonymous

    Epic photos!

  • Anonymous

    Would absolutely love to do it in Napa one day–that would be gorgeous! And yes, there were plenty of dogs barking at us as we went overhead–surely they didn’t know quite what to make of it!

  • Anonymous

    Totally worthwhile!

  • Anonymous

    Very true! Can’t compare to the real thing :)

  • Anonymous

    It was awesome! I remember your photos from Monument Valley–looked absolutely gorgeous!

  • Anonymous

    Gracias!

  • I’m slightly afraid of heights but I want to do this JUST FOR THE PHOTOS. Amazing!

  • I’m slightly afraid of heights but I want to do this JUST FOR THE PHOTOS. Amazing!

  • Anonymous

    Right?! And it’s seriously not as scary as you would think–I think it’s worse being on the top floor of a skyscraper balcony!

  • Joya

    This looks amazing! I hope I can do this one day.

  • Anonymous

    oh my goodness, spectacular photos!! A hot air balloon ride is definitely on my list of life-musts. Must have been an amazing ride! 

  • Anonymous

    Such a great experience–worth checking out :)

  • Anonymous

    Shame you can’t do it above Paris–how amazing would that view be?!

  • Magnificent! We hope to visit our friends that just moved to this magical city towards the end of the year. I doubt we’ll get quite as good a view :)

  • Anonymous

    They do hot-air balloon rides all year round–totally worth it if you can swing it! There’s no better place to wake up in Melbourne :)

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