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21 March 2013 / leggypeggy

Balloons galore to celebrate a big birthday

Canberra Balloon Spectacular

Canberra Balloon Spectacular

Canberra turned 100 this month and there were plenty of balloons to mark the occasion.

I’m not talking about your usual birthday party balloons—I’m talking about hot air balloons in all colours, shapes and sizes.

Canberra Balloon Spectacular

Canberra Balloon Spectacular

Known as the Canberra Balloon Spectacular, this popular event is in its 27th year. It really is eye-catching and rightly considered one of the top three hot air ballooning events in the world.

This year’s elaborate creations hailed from all over the world—Canada, Belgium, The Netherlands, Hong Kong, Taiwan—and all over Australia.

Every morning around 6, the pilots started laying out and inflating their balloons in front of Old Parliament House. Darth Vader oversaw the proceedings, so did Mr Bup (a pudgy turtle), a peacock and a black lion Simba. The Boy Scouts and many more popped in too.

Canberra Balloon Spectacular

The Boy Scout balloon swings and sways in the wind

Balloon launchs are weather dependant, and the day we visited was extremely windy and had its share of mishaps.

Some pilots had trouble controlling their crafts. The Boy Scout balloon swayed back and forth in the wind, and finally shot into the sky abruptly. The ground crew was annoyed by the speedy departure, but acknowledged that the wind was especially unpredictable.

Another balloon, which was launched just near the Treasury Building, couldn’t gain height quickly enough and hit the side of the building (sorry but I was too far away to get a pic). The balloon was shredded on one side and drifted to the ground. Fortunately no one was hurt.

Canberra Balloon Spectacular

Darth Vader joins Canberra’s birthday party

After that, the pilot of the turtle balloon, which was also being inflated close to the Treasury Building, decided not launch.

I’m guessing that about 30 balloons took off the morning we were there, and it was amazing to see how quickly the wind whisked them away.

I heard that the next morning was so still that the balloons launched and then hovered (virtually stalled) right over the Old Parliament House lawns. What a difference.

About 15 years ago, I had a balloon ride over Canberra (a birthday present from Poor John). It was spring, the weather was perfect and we floated over the lake and all the main government buildings. It was so good that I got Poor John a balloon ride as a reciprocal birthday present the following year.

I’m thinking I need another chance for a hot air balloon ride. Anyone have recommendations for good places to fly high?

And before I go, don’t forget to vote for me in the Biggest, Baddest Bucketlist competition being run by There’s a link to my entry here and in the top right corner of this page. Click and follow the links. You can vote daily until the middle of April.

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Leave a Comment
  1. Your loving daughter / Mar 22 2013 8:43 am

    Actually the balloon that hit treasury was trying to avoid coming up underneath a balloon above it, so it slowed its ascent and then the basket hit the corner of treasury. I would have loved to see the reaction of any staff working in that corner of the building at the time.


    • leggypeggy / Mar 22 2013 9:16 am

      So glad you were able to find out what really happened. Great link.


  2. Joanne T Ferguson / Mar 22 2013 10:58 am

    Hot air Ballooning over the Barossa Valley at dawn…is nothing like it and you even get treated to a champagne and chicken brekkie, pledge an oath and get a lifelong certificate with photos too 🙂

    Looks like fun and congrats on your GREAT entry too! And sure people will come out and continue to support you! WHOO HOO!


    • leggypeggy / Mar 22 2013 11:31 am

      Barossa Valley at dawn—what a great idea. Thanks Joanne, and thanks for the support for my entry.


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