28th November and each day has been a surprise for seeing new places and making new friends. Today a Hot Air Balloon Ride; rising at 3.30am and making our way to Chateu Yering at Yarra Glen. The team balloon arrived; we looked up into the dark sky as small helium balloons were released to see which way the wind was blowing. Apparently the wind direction dictates our starting point for the ascent. Just after 4.15am we were quickly ushered into the waiting buses and very soon arrived close to Lilydale Lakes, on an area which had once been home to quarter horses.
All of us were expected to help with the balloons (we had received a leaflet telling us this) but some silly people refused; saying that they had not paid to do this but to me it was all part of the experience, lots of fun! The leaflet had also explained we would need several layers of clothing, hats and gloves. Most had heeded the advice and were all muffled up but others looked inadequately dressed.
Ours was the largest balloon and once it was level and ready to ascend twenty-two people got into the basket of which there were five compartments. Our weight was distributed amongst four and the operator was in the fifth. Very quickly we had risen off the ground; so effortlessly in fact that I was quite surprised to look down and find we were already 100 feet up. Here I was on my first balloon ride. what had I expected…. well I can tell you it was magical & breathtaking looking down as we ascended above Lilydale Lakes with cameras at the ready. It was so good to have Darryl with me as he pointed out his home and Alianna Stud that we had visited the day before. From our bird’s eye view it was interesting to see the patterns in paddocks of the movement of the ponies. I have photos to show what a fantastic trip it was. Being warm enough was crucial to enjoying this adventure; those who had not followed instructions were shivering and sorry for themselves at 2000 ft with the only hot air in the balloon itself!!
Landing was an experience. We were told we had to hold the handles and when told to brace, brace, and lean against the basket sides. We landed in a field which did not have a gate so some of us dismounted (so to speak), the balloon rose again a few feet and those of us on terra-firma guided the balloon and it’s remaining occupants over the fence, the truck backed up and the basket was landed. Now for the very peculiar challenge. The giant balloon was deflated and had to be packed into what seemed an impossibly small bag…..about the size of a builders sack of the type used to carry sand or gravel. The balloon was finally lying twisted on the ground and we heaved and wrestled with this giant unruly snake until we had squeezed it into the sack.
We travelled back to Chateau Werring and enjoyed a very comfortable champagne breakfast. . My daughter had thought Darryl was joking when he wrote to say we were going to Hot Air Balloon…..my children never know what I will get up to next