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The air up there

Floating at 4500 feet in the air, Kate Webster finds warmth in the sunshine and calm in the stillness over the Gold Coast on a hot air balloon flight.

I don’t mind early mornings but in winter it certainly is hard to get motivated to climb out of bed at 4am in the dark and brave the cold. When you have somewhere to go though, that task is made a little easier.

This chilly winter morning I left the coastline at Mermaid Beach and headed inland towards the Scenic Rim with Hot Air Gold Coast to climb into a hot air balloon and take in the sights of the Gold Coast from above.

Stood in the field of a farm, the morning is still dark and the chill is lifting from the wet ground. My attention quickly turns to the bursts of flames as the spectacular balloon inflation begins. Once the balloon is fully inflated, I climbed into the bask which is surprisingly large. These hot air balloons can take up to 20 passengers. Not the intimate four people sized basket I had imagined.

Without a sound we began to float up, up and away. Everything happened so smoothly. The air was calm and silent, only broken by the blasts of flames that continued to fill the balloon with hot air and send us higher. As we floated to around 4000 feet, the sun continued to rise over the rolling hills of the majestic Gold Coast hinterland.

It was here that I could take in sweeping views of Tamborine Mountain, Lamington National Park and to the east see the shimmering tall towers of the Gold Coast skyline. The stillness was deceiving as we were obviously moving on the wind current, but the peace and quiet was as beautiful as the scenery.

I let my thoughts drift off as I watch the world wake up below me. Cows moved around paddocks, cars began their morning journeys to who knew where. It was becoming a hive of activity below. I wondered if they would look up and notice me in the balloon floating by.

The landing was anticipated to be slightly bumpy as the basket drifted across the grassed field, but even that was smooth an uneventful. It was a perfect landing. The perfect day for it too with the weather showing nothing but clear skies. I am told the Gold Coast is a great place for a hot air balloon ride as the stable and reliable weather conditions means many more flying days per year.

With my feet back on the ground, and after assisting in packing up the balloon, it was off to have a champagne breakfast in the gracious ambiance of O’Reilly’s Vineyard’s historic Grand Homestead. There is something about the fresh air out in the Gold Coast hinterland that makes you work up an appetite.

I perched myself next to the small flowing creek at the back of the property and devoured my breakfast surrounded by the magically part of the valley and think to myself that exploring my own back yard isn’t that bad after all.

For more, visit www.hotair.com.au/gold-coast

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