If you want to go hot air ballooning and witness a magnificent sunrise, be prepared to wake up early.
On my 21st birthday, I happened to be lucky enough to go on a surprise hot air balloon ride. Despite the early hour, around 4-5am, and the cold morning, it was a great experience. Picture This Ballooning arranged for everyone to meet at a cafe in Yarra Glen to sign the waiver forms and gather in the little vans that would take us to our launch destination, which apparently changes depending on the conditions.
Many other balloons had chosen this field as a launching area, and the scene was spectacularly full of balloons heating up and taking off. We stood around, shivering, as our balloon was fired up. To ensure the basket is balanced, it's separated into four quarters so we had to spread ourselves amongst the compartments.
We were the last balloon to leave, as our pilot was attempting to implement a camera that could take photos of us during the flight. It was attached with wires and controlled via a remote control. It would have been great if it worked, but we had technical difficulties getting the remote to connect from far away.
A balloon heating up - the fire gave us a bit of warmth in the morning cold!
Picture This Ballooning also offer hot air balloon rides over the city, including breakfast at the Sofitel. But there's something a lot more peaceful about floating over the countryside over seeing the top of everyday buildings that we are so familiar with.
It was beautiful observing the mist rising from the farmlands in the cool morning, the sunrise over the mountains and the other balloons in the distance. We also had occasional commentary from our pilot about the places we were passing.
At one point, we even dipped quite low and close to a pond and we were able to see the reflection of our balloon in the water. The weather and conditions seemed perfect, with no issues or bumpiness on the ride.
The landing went smoothly and with some fun group work, we managed to pack the balloon up. We were taken back to the cafe in the vans, where we stood in a circle in the courtyard and performed a champagne toast, which is apparently a tradition upon landing. We were then treated to a lovely breakfast back at the cafe, which capped off a great birthday morning!