Tourist In My Town: Up, Up and Away

Sarah Loughlin looks the coast from a new perspective with a hot-air-balloon trip to remember.

It isn’t until you are about two meters off the ground that you notice you have started to move. There is something very relaxing about the way a balloon glides through the air, silently being pushed along by the breeze. Floating gently up into the hazy morning sun with nothing but the occasional sound of the gas heaters to break the silence.

The views over Lamington National Park, tucked in neatly between the mountains and the sea, are spectacular. From the balloon you can see for miles across the Eastern Scenic Rim and out to the ocean. Pako, our friendly captain, points out some landmarks as we make our journey across the park. This area of land, he tells us, was created by the ancient Tweed Volcano and the lava that erupted from it. Over the years the weather has eroded the landscape to create the plateaus, mountains and cliffs. Home to many animal and plant species, the National Park was established in 1915, and named after Lord Lamington, a previous Governor of Queensland.

It takes roughly thirty minutes for us to reach our destination, which is dictated by wind direction and changes with each flight. We land gently in a nearby field and everyone helps pack away the balloon before jumping onto the back of the trailer for the short ride to our bus. We finish off the morning at O’Reilly’s Vineyard for breakfast and are handed complimentary bubbles on arrival. In normal circumstances pre-breakfast alcohol would be frowned upon, but there is something decadent about ballooning across the hinterland that makes drinking in the morning seem appropriate. As we sit on the sundeck of the beautiful historic guesthouse, surrounded by rows of vines, we help ourselves to the buffet and eat looking out over the small stream and the turtles sunning themselves on the bank.

O’Reillys vineyard produces a range of different of wines, from a Moscato to a sparkling red. We took advantage of the complimentary post-breakfast wine tasting, and picked up a bottle or two to take home.

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