Brian has always wanted to go up for a balloon flight. During
the early years of their marriage Lynn said, "That's fine
but don't expect me to come with you. There's no way you're
getting me into one of those things".
Time passed and then around 1997
an opportunity arose for a flight out of Singleton in the Hunter
Valley where we were staying with Lynn's sister and brother in
law at Port Stephens. With the benefit of a balloon
advertisement, group bravado and a
few bottles of wine we all said, "Let's do it !!" and
a booking was made. We rose at about 3.00am on the appointed
morning and had been driving for 45 minutes towards the launch
location when a phone call informed us the flight had been
cancelled due to high winds. What a disappointment.
Barossa Valley -
In late 2011 we were faced with the expiry of a significant
number of frequent flyer points we'd earned with Etihad Airways.
With just 24 hours before expiry we made a snap decision to use them up by
"buying" two balloon flights in the Barossa Valley and
a rather nice tennis racquet for Lynn. The flights had to be used no
later than December 2012 and as the Barossa Valley is a long,
long way from Nambucca Heads we planned a three week vacation
around our balloon flights. In other words we spent three or
four thousand so we could use an award which had an all up value
of about $850. Go figure !
A freezing dawn morning in South
Australia's Barossa Valley as the support crew give us the
thumbs up and we give them one back just for good measure. Our long delayed balloon adventure is about to begin.
Altitude one and a bit metres and
I believe we're actually on our way! The support crew guys take
our picture so they can prove to the Supreme Court that things
were going perfectly normal at around 10 seconds into the
I'm very tempted to crap on a
bird..... I've waited years for an opportunity to do that !
As Jackie Gleeson would say (who
remembers HIM?) "And awaaaaay we go".
Quick, grab the road atlas.....
which of these six roads is ours? Whichever one you blow down I
guess. Hang on, doesn't one of these roads go to the Great
Southern Ocean and thence onto Antarctica?
Seven happy little Vegemites face
$5,000 worth of suspended Nikon SLR camera
Hey, don't look now but our chase
vehicle is about to pass us! It was amazing how cleverly they
kept us in view as they navigated along lots of obscure little
country roads. They intermittently kept in contact with our
skipper via VHF radio when necessary.
Every so often we'd silently pass
over a mob of kangaroos or a flock of wild ducks. They'd be
totally oblivious to our close presence until our skipper hit
the flame thrower with an almighty roar scattering the wildlife
in all directions. Sorry but it's better than crashing.
Smile for the camera and pretend
you're not scared. Actually I'm only scared we'll freeze to
death or veer off course and miss the promised champagne
We're actually being pushed along
by a 40 km breeze but we can't feel it because we're doing round
about 40 km ourselves. Several intended landings had to be
abandoned due to crops, power lines barbed wire fences and the
fact the balloon's direction is at the whim of the wind. Before
we know it our one hour flight has lasted for one hour and twenty
minutes which is a stroke of luck and we are approaching
Adelaide International Airport which is a stroke of something
else. Hey there's a big paddock of mown hay so let's drop her
Hey Lynn.... I said call
for an ambulance, not a school bus for heavens sake !
This looks like a pretty good
landing location. Looking good.....
Looking good, looking good,
looking good..... man this thing's really moving!
Aaaagh! What are we doing here at
the bottom of the basket with three ruptured lumbar disks? We expecting a feather soft landing but that was REALLY hard.
We saw no mention of THIS in the brochure!!!!
At least we're in the top layer
and didn't get speared through the back of the head by tufts of
stick-like hay stubble. Brian's not making any wisecracks....
better check whether he's conscious! On a serious note we doff
our hats to the chase crew. Not only were they able to follow
our 40 kph speedster, they also managed to pinpoint the actual
paddock, find a suitable gate and arrive by our side in time to
take this shot. Nice going boys!
"I enjoyed every minute
except the last 1½ seconds". Anyhow, where's our
Have we REALLY got to put all
that rag into that itty bitty canvas bag? No kidding?
OK, that's good, let's go! How
far is it to the restaurant and champagne brekkie?