Hunter Valley Hot Air Ballooning
by email here
About Us
Home > Reviews > Trips > Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley Hot Air Ballooning

One of our more memorable trips to the Hunter Valley actually happened a few years back now. It was our wedding anniversary and as such demanded something special. The result was a very early start to the day with a nice relaxing trip over the town of Cessnock in a Hot Air Balloon.

The day started when we left the house at just before four in the morning in order to make the hour long drive up to the Hunter Valley air port where we would meet up with the balloon. Once everyone had arrived we all piled into the back of a couple of land rovers and set off for the take off site.

There are actually quite a few take off sites scattered around the valley, the one that is chosen will depend entirely upon the prevailing wind at the time. This also goes for the landing sites too by the way so you’ll not know exactly how far your flight will be until the day.

Anyway, once we arrived it was time to inflate the balloon. The first stage in this process is to effectively just dump it off the back of its trailer. Once the balloon is on the ground it is simply a case of having to unroll and unfold it until it’s laying out flat. 

Now it’s time to inflate the balloon, this is where it gets a bit noisy. Obviously, with the balloon laid out flat on the ground you can’t use the gas burners to start the inflation process. Instead, two people have to stand to each side of the balloons mouth holding it open while two high powered fans blow air into it.

Once the fans have been blowing for a while the balloon will be sufficiently inflated to allow the burners to be turned on. After a few good blasts, the balloon starts to lift and stand up on its own. As the balloon is now inflated and free standing even a small breeze can have a dramatic effect on it, this means that time is of the essence and everyone has to quickly climb into the basket ready for takeoff.

With everybody on board, the tethers released and a good blast from the gas burners, the assent began. We rose gently upwards while the slight breeze, hardly noticeable while on the ground started to push us along at a fair pace.

The flight itself went for a couple of hours and ranged in altitude from just a few metres as we swooped down over a vineyard up to a bit over 1000 feet as we had to climb to find a suitable cross wind to push us across to line up with the landing field.

In addition to the beautiful panoramic views of the Hunter Valley there were also a couple of other more obscure memorable moments as well. First among them was when we flew over the Cessnock prison. It was so peaceful in up in the balloon that we could actually hear the morning PA announcements being made. If ever you wanted an argument for not going to prison, having to get up that early every day would be enough of a deterrent for me.

We found out the next interesting fact when we actually overflew the airport runway. It turns out that a hot air balloon always has right of way over a powered aircraft so all of the pilots out for an early morning flight just had to sit and wait for us to waft by overhead.

Anyway, after passing over the runway it was only a short while more until we had flown on to the field where we were to land. Land, by the way in hot air balloon terms is just short for slow motion crash. The landing procedure goes along these lines.
 1. Stay standing up and watch for the direction of travel when you are going to land.
2. At the last moment, turn your back to the direction of travel and duck down into the basket.
3. Try to wedge yourself in so in the event that you are dragged along you don’t fall out.

Fortunately for us, the wind was quite light on the day and as such there was no need to worry about being tipped out. The reality was that after a few bumps and we just stopped.

Once enough of the hot air had been released, we could then get out and have a wander around while the balloon was fully deflated. After that it was all hands on deck to help with the process of refolding and rolling it up so it could go back onto the trailer before we all piled back into the cars again for the trip back to the airport and a glass of champagne.

Was it worth it? Yes, for a special occasion it definitely made for a memorable trip. Would I do it again? Probably not, as it’s quite an expensive exercise I think once is probably enough. 

Balloon Safaris
Phone: 1800818191

A couple of tips:

Don’t volunteer to hold the balloon mouth open during its initial inflation. You need to stand in front of a couple of extremely powerful fans. On a hot day I’m sure this is lovely, at 5am with the temperature just above freezing, it’s maybe not so much fun.

Wear a hat. When the gas burners are on full blast for an extended period such as at take off or when trying to climb rapidly, it can feel like the top of your head is about to catch fire. True, most of the heat does go up into the balloon, but the small amount that radiates down is more than enough to make it uncomfortable.

Current Comments

1 comments so far (post your own)

Please keep throwing these posts up they help tons.

Posted by Denim on Sunday, 17.07.11 @ 10:50am

Leave your comment:





Please answer the following:


Note: Emails are optional and will not be visible.
They will only be used to respond to posted questions.

No HTML code is allowed and URLs will be auto-linked after approval.

Do you have a website? Please feel free to link to this page by copying and pasting the code below.

<a href="">Hunter Valley Hot Air Ballooning </a>