Ballooning: Taking in "Down Under" From "Up Above"

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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.

ballooning gold coast australia

However, somehow I’ve been able to shake that experience off and get back off the ground. Why would I do such a thing?

hot air balloon gold coast

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.

balloon sunrise

A cloudy sunrise above the hinterlands

Farmland below. The balloon scared the cows!

Queensland from above

Great Dividing Range of Queensland

Queensland hot air balloon

Where fields collide…

deflating balloon

Everyone chips in to deflate the balloon

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.

Hot air balloon outback

Take of from Australia’s Red Centre

Outback sunrise

A perfectly orange sunrise in a clear morning sky.

outback hot air balloon

Bushy trees start to light up in the sunrise

Alice Springs from above

Long shadows form across the outback as the sun rises

kangaroo outback

Tracking kangaroos from above!

hot air balloon nothern territory

A perfect landing!

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!

Sherry Ott
Sherry Ott is a refugee from corporate IT who is now a long term traveler, blogger, and photographer. She’s a co-founder of Briefcasetobackpack.com, a website offering career break travel inspiration and advice.

Additionally, she runs an around the world travel blog writing about her travel and expat adventures at Ottsworld.com.com.
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