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All the amazing sights that we cannot see from street level or from Melbourne's tallest buildings are unlocked with Heli-Serv's city helicopter tour.
My partner and I recently took the opportunity to explore Melbourne from a whole new perspective when we took to the city skies for an unforgettable bird's eye view which can only be described as an enviable experience.
Federation Square in the bottom right hand corner, St Paul's Cathedral (center) and Flinders St Station in the bottom left hand corner
Our day started out by travelling from our Mornington Peninsula bases to Heli-Serv's city heliport which is located on the Yarra River alongside Spencer St and Batman Park in the heart of the city. Being a Saturday morning, the city was bustling with people and jammed packed with cars. Parking would have been a nightmare, however we were fortunate enough to have permission to use the private car parking space in front of the Cityport office. What a great start to the day.
Heli-Serv Melbourne City Heliport pad on the Yarra River with the booking office in the upper left hand corner of the photo in Batman Park
In the office, we were warmly greeted by Peter, who ran us through the safety brief and introduced us to our pilot, Ben, before accompanying us to the helicopter where we were given instructions on how to use the seat belts and headsets.
We then climbed on board, buckled ourselves in, put on our headsets and waited with anticipation as the doors were closed and the engine started. Being the first time either of us had been in a helicopter we were unsure of what to expect and I was a little anxious about air sickness as I have an unfortunate travel/air sickness reputation.
Buckled up ready to go
After a few minutes, the engine was ready and controller in the communication tower radioed in with the okay to take flight. With a bit of a bump and a little side to side movement we lifted off the helipad and quickly gained height over the Yarra. Looking down at this point I couldn't help but notice all the people below that had stopped going about their business and were now solely focused on looking up at us. It was a surreal experience as I'm usually the one stopping the kids to look up and see helicopters flying above.
Out to Port Melbourne, the weather changed and the helicopter was pelted by wind and driving rain but it added to the experience of our adventure and our pilot Ben handled the conditions magnificently. As you can see below with the weather front gaining.
Down towards Albert Park (famous for the Formula One Grand Prix) and St Kilda the rain came down heavily and the photos aren't great, but you can see that on a clear day the view would be magnificent and I'm it would stretch as far as the Mornington Peninsula.
Pilot Ben pointed out the stately Government House where the Governor of Victoria resides. He also mentioned that the flag was fully raised, which meant the Governor was currently in residence. A magnificent building, but unfortunately I couldn't get a decent photo.
Seeing the city buildings from the sky was absolutely amazing. We could just about see all of Melbourne's most iconic buildings and landmarks.
From the inside of the helicopter looking over the city buildings
All up the trip took just over 30 minutes in total with around 18-20 minutes of that being in the air.
To sum up our experience I would say that we both thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to everyone. Seeing Melbourne from the sky showed us that we didn't know Melbourne like the back of our hand, even as locals we were pointing out things to each other with intrigue. Being a passenger in the helicopter was an unforgettable experience and I was thrilled not to experience any air sickness. My parting words were along the lines of "I think I should sell my house and take up helicopter lessons".
Heli-Serv helicopter tours are based in Moorabbin and Melbourne. They offer scenic flights which include the heart of Melbourne, shipwreck coast and Melbourne city scenic flights. Plus Day tours of the 12 Apostles, Bellarine Peninsula and Yarra Valley (including wineries/breweries). Any tour/day trip can be arranged and is pretty much only limited to your imagination. Have a look at Heli-Serv's web page here for all tours, day trips and Melbourne Cup/race day transfers.
For the aviation enthusiasts out there or for anyone interested in the details of the helicopter we flew in, it was the single turbine engine Eurocopter AS350 BA Squirrel – VH-NDO, which can seat 6 people including the pilot with a cruise speed of 120kts with a maximum range of 360 miles, or in relative terms, roughly 80 miles short of the distance between Melbourne to Sydney. Not only is this helicopter used for scenic and corporate charter, but also plays a role in firefighting operations. This European built helicopter is also one of the most powerful and widely used in the world. Heli-Serv have a large fleet of aircraft to suit the needs of their customers and can transport up to 30 passengers. Details of Heli-Serv's full fleet can be found here.