It’s not as quiet as you might think flying in a hot air balloon as it sweeps high
across the Gold Coast hinterland.
Two sounds break the silence. With reassuring regularity, the burner bursts into action filling the air with shooting flames and the balloon with hot air. Then there is the chatter of fellow passengers as they wonder at the changing vista and the constant clicks as they record the stunning landscape.
Get ready for an early start
There’s nothing pleasant about being ready for a pick up at 4.20am, especially when the night before included plenty of cocktails, but that’s all part of the package when you decide on a balloon flight.
It’s too early and it’s too cold, plus I’m stuck on a bus, and I don’t know where it’s heading, but there’s plenty of excitement because I do know I’m going to get high on the Gold Coast in a balloon!
This is for people who like to live life large, so I’m leaving all my fears and phobias safely tucked up in the warm hotel room bed.
This is how I came to be standing in the foyer of QT Gold Coast with a group of bleary-eyed people who like to get the most out of life. We are travel writers on the Gold Coast for the Australian Tourism Exchange, an event where networking crosses with speed ‘dating’ for maximum results on both sides.
The bus takes us into the Gold Coast Hinterland, about 30 minutes’ drive from the coastline. Here the scenery is dramatically different thanks to an ancient volcano which created the tall mountains now coated in green by Mother Nature.
It’s lift off!
The first task is to fill the balloons with hot air, and they start to inflate skywards. As the balloon gains buoyancy, we climb into the wicker basket to add weight.
Climbing over the steep basket side is a little challenging, but there are plenty of helping hands close by.
When we lift off, it’s a smooth ride upwards until everything below us is a long way away. It’s such a beautiful morning with patches of fog hiding some parts of the land and sky reflections in lakes as we float past.
The pilot points out landmarks such as Tamborine Mountain, Lamington National Park and the tall towers of the Gold Coast’s skyscrapers in the distance.
It’s a photographer’s paradise, and there’s much clicking to capture the memorable images.
Landing was easy
Gradually we start to lose height and the balloon is no longer dancing way above the trees but closing in on a paddock. We glided over the top of long grass strands for a few minutes before coming to a stop with just a slight bump. The landing was almost as smooth as the take-off. Too easy.
Then it was all about getting the remaining air out of the balloon and packing it up. Opening a vent at the top of the balloon allowed the hot air to escape and passengers became workers, rolling and folding until the balloon was just a bag on the ground.
Another short drive and we were off the bus at O’Reilly’s Homestead set among the vineyard at Canungra in the Gold Coast Hinterland.
Hot Air Balloon’s Champagne Breakfast at O’Reillys Grand Homestead Vineyard costs $280 for an adult.
Dress warm with layers as the morning flights can be chilly.
Disclaimer: Ed+bK was a guest of Gold Coast Tourism.