I and my fellow passengers are surrounded to the west by the volcanic cradle of the Scenc Rim and its breathtaking vistas. The D'Aguilar Range stretches to the north alongside the TV pylons atop Mount Coo-tha. The skyscrapers of Brisbane and even the glimmering waters of Moreton Bay can be seen eastward in the far distance on this beautiful cool autumnal day.
Graeme, our Floating Images pilot – and owner – of 22 years experience points out with expert knowledge all the views within the 360 degree landscape surrounding us. Each mountain and small community is identified along with landmarks as we float over the racetracks at Willowbank.
Graeme enthuses his passion for ballooning and the local Ipswich and Scenic Rim region. He chose to settle and develop his business here after finding his love for ballooning whilst backpacking in Europe and being trained by the French government.
We drift carefree for an hour and more over rolling countryside, paddocks, woods and a quarry. The only sound is the excited chatter of the group and the gas burner as it carries us effortlessly with the wind.
Soon we are descending at a peaceful rate with no power lines, forests or buildings to impede us as we land smoothly in an open paddock much to the bemusement of some startled cows. Shortly the recovery driver Rudi appears along with the friendly farm owner atop his quad bike and with kelpie in hand that greets the happy travellers.
Soon we are in the 4WD and arrive back at the luxury Metro Ipswich International Hotel in the CBD where we gathered in the pre-dawn. We are treated to a hearty breakfast in the light and contemporary designed Platform 9 restaurant. Toasting our pilot and trip with a glass of bubbles we reflect on the experience and what a special morning it has been as Graeme hands out certificates and offers a souvenir CD for those that want to revisit the ride.
A Floating Images balloon flight is a great way to celebrate any special occasion. Graeme has witnessed proposals and even a wedding on his many flights. It's also a superb way to celebrate any day and is just 30 minutes from Brisbane's CBD. It truly is an experience to realise how wonderful the landscape is just a short drive from a capital city.