Let me take you on a journey, a magical journey to a place way up high. Where the air is cold and crisp, and new daylight bathes the view below. Floating above the tree tops in a rainbow hot air balloon is not your average way to start a new week.
Last Monday hubby and I woke super early to go on an adventure, a hot air balloon adventure. It was a dark and chilly 1-degree morning but the cold crisp air couldn’t dampen our excitement. We hit the road just after 3 am to drive 90 kilometres east of Perth to Northam, in the beautiful Avon Valley.
Arriving at Northam Airfield the friendly staff of Windward Balloon Adventures greeted us. We listened to the safety briefing before boarding a coaster bus to the balloon launch site, just a short drive from town.
In a random sheep paddock, we met with Brian our pilot who was preparing the balloon for inflation. It was an amazing sight to see; two massive fans blasted air into the balloon along with the occasional blasts of a flame to create hot air. In no time the entire balloon was full, stretching high into the sky and ready for lift off. The pilot then called all passengers into the balloon basket. Once everyone was comfortable and ready, we got a few pre-flight happy snaps, more safety instructions and a briefing on the all-important landing procedure.
Then, at last, the ground crew released the hot air balloon and we began, ever so smoothly to rise off the ground. It was an amazing feeling to just start floating into the sky. We started to see a 360-degree view towards the crops, river and on the horizon the first glimpse of daylight beginning to fill the sky.
The most magical part for me was the silence. No noise from engines, just the occasional blast of hot air-fuel from the gas cylinders and the chatter of excited passengers! We were lucky to have clear skies on the morning of our flight, meaning we could see for miles. The sunrise was absolutely breathtaking. At first, all you could see was the glow of light painting the land below and then the sun broke the horizon bathing everything with a yellow-orange tinge.
The pilot guided the balloon above fields and fields of farming land including bright yellow canola crops. We rose higher to clear the tree tops and large hills. In sections, we were travelling at speeds reaching 60 kilometres per hour! The flight lasted about an hour or so before we softly landed in a paddock. The landing was a breeze, thanks to our highly skilled pilot.
Once back on the ground, we helped pack up the balloon. The crew then drove us into town to the Rivers Edge Café for a champagne breakfast to celebrate our magnificent flight across the Avon valley.
Reflecting back now, I cannot help but smile at the wonderful memories from this once in a lifetime experience. The weightless feeling at lift-off, the views of the world below and that beautiful sun rising from beyond the horizon to paint the land with morning light. If you ever get the chance to go Ballooning, jump at it! The flight will transport you to a place that will touch your soul in the most amazing way.
When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return. – Leonardo Da Vinci
Hot Air Balloon Flight Tips:
- The Windward Balloon flight season runs from April to November so plan ahead to book flights. We chose to wait until the rain had turned the paddocks a lush green colour – mid to late winter.
- Wear warm clothing. It can be rather cold before sunrise. Don’t spoil the experience by shivering your way throughout the flight, be prepared.
- Charge your camera the night before. If you are anything like me who takes loads of photos, take more than one camera. I used my iPhone and Canon 50D. You’ll be happy snapping A LOT!
- Enjoy it! Take a break from taking photos. Just stop for a while and truly be a part of the experience. It is that moment, that will remain with you forever.