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13 March 2014 / leggypeggy

Hanging around with a whale and parrot


Poor John and I were up and out the door early this morning—on our way to see the Canberra Balloon Spectacular.

Every year for about a week in March, armies of hot-air balloons lift off around sunrise from the lawns in front of Old Parliament House.

This year’s centerpiece was Skywhale, the gigantic sculpture created to mark Canberra’s 100th birthday last year.

Designed by internationally renowned artist and former Canberran Patricia Piccinini, Skywhale has been controversial and impossible to miss. She (is it a she?) is twice as big as a standard hot-air balloon, measuring 34 metres long and 23 metres high. She weighs half a tonne and is made of more than 3.5 kilometres of fabric. It took 16 people seven months and more than 3.3 million stitches to make.

Skywhale and Pegleg Pete

Pegleg Pete keeps an eye on Skywhale

But enough statistics. From her very first flight, Skywhale was at the heart of a love-it-or-hate-it relationship with the citizens of Canberra, with more people on the hate-it side. But over the year, people have come around. We’re getting used to her bulbous shape and swinging teats. And the city has benefited greatly from the international attention we got after Skywhale was first launched.

This morning, Skywhale and Pegleg Pete, the pirate–parrot, were being inflated side-by-side. Are they a couple? Pete seemed to be stealing a few kisses. But Skywhale turned her back to him and flew off on her own. Maybe she was annoyed by his mishap on Monday when he landed on a major thoroughfare in town.

I hope to pop back again this weekend to photograph more of the balloons and I urge you to check out kayakcameraman’s great pics taken as he floated on Lake Burley Griffin. 


Leave a Comment
  1. Debbwl / Mar 14 2014 10:03 am

    So enjoy your post Peggy, thanks for all the great adventures.


  2. Sy S. / Mar 14 2014 11:55 am

    The Kayakcameraman URL has some interesting photos, especially the early morning shots over the lake and with the Hot Air Balloons. I wonder what camera he uses and risks getting dunked in the water… I checked out one of his images and no info (on camera used), he just used a small size image and might have been using a small waterproof camera?


    • leggypeggy / Mar 14 2014 4:02 pm

      Paul (the kayakcameraman) uses a Canon most of the time. Quite a while back, he wrote a blog entry explaining his camera and how he doesn’t alter images before posting, but I couldn’t find it. He’s become so popular that the National Library of Australia now archives his blog.


  3. Kenny2dogs / Mar 15 2014 2:54 am

    I am quite sure the Montgolfier Brothers never envisaged these monsters of the sky !!!


    • leggypeggy / Mar 15 2014 8:20 am

      True, but they did heavily decorate their early balloons, so maybe they would approve of today’s creations.


      • Kenny2dogs / Mar 15 2014 9:48 am

        I agree Peggy, it appears to me that Man is genetically programmed to embellish his World. ” It must be big and beautiful ”
        Be well my faraway friend 🙂


      • leggypeggy / Mar 15 2014 10:29 am

        Thanks Kenny. Skywhale is big and not so beautiful, but she is loveable in her own way. You stay well too.


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