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Published: March 24th 2010
Sneaking a peek on lift off
What a beautiful shot Darryl got of this cheeky little chap as the balloon lifted off
Day 323 - Canberra A huge HAPPY BIRTHDAY shout out to our (Darryl’s) sister Mandy today. She’s a beaut girl and we hope she has a beaut birthday. See you soon lovely. Lots of love from both of us x x
‘Where there’s balloons there’s a way!’ No, that’s not right is it but it was certainly ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ to drag ourselves out from under the warm doona this morning! Good job this was our idea or there would be hell to pay!
We didn’t let the fine drizzle dampen our spirits and still made it down to the festival site before the darkness had fully lifted from the morning skies. Unlike yesterday, lots of balloons were still waiting to take off. We thought as it was such a dull morning that many of them were having second thoughts but the teams were soon springing into action all around us.
The giant Kookaburra balloon is still on the ground so we start to wander in its direction. It was a good move and we found plenty to entertain us along the way. We were ‘front row’ for one particular balloon inflation
and this time managed to catch the team from the point of the balloon being rolled out on the ground through to lift off. It all looks very straight forward and everyone involved looked like ‘old hands’ in terms of knowing what they needed to do. With two people holding the ends of the balloon aloft in front of a huge fan, the balloon quickly begins to fill. Another chap then walks onto the fabric inside the balloon making sure it is unfolded before coming back out to allow the switch over to gas. The burners are fired up and hot air begins to do what it does best, rise! You know when they’ve got it filled to the brim, the balloon basket rights itself with the person who’s been controlling the burner from inside the basket all ready for the basket to jerk to a standing position.
With the balloon still safely tethered the team start to look to the skies and their conversations suggest that if the clearer weather hadn’t come they might not have flown this morning but it’s swung in their favour. Interestingly the chap who controlled the inflation isn’t the chap who’s going to
pilot this flight. The controls are handed over and more people hop in the basket leaving the team one last question to answer, how are they going to get over the tethered Kookaburra who is right next door!
The Kookaburra is an imposing balloon to say the least. It looks so life like right down to the glint in its eyes and it’s watching the Capital Chemist balloon’s every move!
With an ever increasing crowd, the Capital Chemist balloon team decide to shift their position and half drag, half bounce through inflation the balloon about 15ft and then they’re off. The pilot works the audience up to cheers and applause and within minutes they’ve missed the big bird and are heading for the clouds.
Thinking the show was over we were just about to start walking towards the Kookaburra again when our eyes spied an unusual looking chair. It took me a while to realise what it actually was and I was just about to ask the chap standing behind it if he minded me having my photo snapped in it with Dar … but then the penny dropped. It was a hot air balloon and although
it had a similar sized balloon to those with the full baskets, this wasn’t ever going to carry more than two passengers with it’s car seat shaped basket made just for two. This team were being filmed, presumably for TV and it became apparent that the pilot was carrying some rather special cargo this morning in the shape of his 81 year old Mum on her birthday! What a way to put a smile on her face!
Finally we get moving towards the Kookaburra which is still on the ground. I’d heard over the microphone that the RAAF crew were offering tethered flights this morning and they were right behind Kookie so while we watched to see if the bird would spread its wings I found the ever increasing tethered flight queue and stood in it just to see how long we might have to wait. The queue was pretty big and to be honest if I wasn’t so bloody minded (at times!) I would probably have walked away after 5 minutes but Caroline came to join me and we’re soon chatting whilst waiting which makes time go by so much quicker! We started to devise clever plans of
how we’d get to the front and joined forces with the families in front and behind us. The boys watched the Kookaburra crew for quite some time but then got bored and went for coffee …. we hoped they wouldn’t get served too quickly but by the time they returned we’d only moved forward a few feet!
It was obvious that initially I’d been more keen to stand in the queue than anyone else and as it was likely to be a longer wait than I’d first anticipated I suggested to the others that we left. Thankfully Darryl, Caroline and Andy flatly refused to abandon hope and we all stood our ground. We started to hear talk of the Kookaburra also joining in the tethered flights. What a great idea. They’d not got enough gas to do a full flight but the RAAF team offered to lend them a bottle for them to do the tethered flights so at least it meant more people got to enjoy the experience.
It was all getting a bit tense as one of the RAAF crew came along to let people know that they were very sorry but they might not be
able to get everyone in the queue up in the balloon. By this time we were quite happy to wait and see what happened, especially now that the ‘Bristol’ Kookaburra was in the mix. Yes, you read that correctly. Kookie was made by none other than Cameron Balloons in Bristol! We’ve both spent most of our lives in Bristol and the yearly balloon fiesta at Ashton Court is an incredible sight. Cameron Balloons are world renowned for the fabulous shapes they make like Bertie Bassett, a Harley Davidson, an energy saving light bulb, Rupert the Bear, Thomas the Tank Engine and many, many more. Luckily this team found Kookie for sale in the UK and bought it to fly in Australia where you could argue it rightly belongs! We just enjoyed looking at the Kookaburra that little bit more knowing he had ‘Made in Bristol’ stamped under his wing somewhere!
We’d finally made it to the front of the queue and were ushered forward to the RAAF balloon along with Shane, Eliza & Ike the family we’d been standing with for the last hour or so! Darryl & Andy had decided not to join in the flight so they
remain with feet firmly on the ground wielding the cameras! We boarded the balloon in an orderly but rapid fashion while the last occupants were still clambering out the back of the basket. The RAAF boys were in a hurry because they too were running out of gas.
With a blast from the burner we are lifted skyward, it’s a great feeling and we’re all very excited and Caroline was quickly over any nerves. Down below Andy & Darryl wave up at us, it’s surprising how distant they look in a short space of time.
Of course the experience is all over way too soon, the smiles last a while though! Thanks very much to the RAAF crew who were fabulous fun and certainly worked hard to ensure as many families soared to the skies as possibly this morning. They managed one more ascent and then had to ground the balloon but the Kookaburra carried on, hopefully through to the end of the queue or at least through those that had stood there patiently for well over an hour as we had.
Back towards the car park we went and through the specially arranged car show just
for me - it was mainly Ford Mustangs, my absolute favourite car in the world bar none (apart from our drag cars … but that’s different!) We all enjoyed the wander through although I did drool over them longer than anyone else, including Darryl! They’re just very nice looking cars and one day I will own one, even if it’s a model.
The next thing on the agenda was breakfast. It was all any of the others would talk about by this point but it was more than worth the return to camp. Pancakes galore along with bacon, eggs, toast and beans! What a feast, we all tucked in and filled our boots.
Caroline & I did a bit of work on our jewellery projects and luckily Darryl is an excellent shell polisher so things are coming on very nicely indeed. Andy nana naps on the bed but wakes up replenished and eager to swim. Really? Really!
The pool at the caravan park is not heated but it’s a good size and reasonably deep at both ends. Andy takes the plunge and dives in, he’s fully awake now and the rattling of his teeth tells us the
water’s not very warm! We’ve brought our flippers and snorkels down to the pool for Caroline & Andy to try out. They’ve not done any snorkelling on their trip but hopefully now they know it’s not that hard they’ll give it a go when they get a decent opportunity. While Caroline is snorkelling / fossicking (she found a 10 cent piece!) the rest of us instigate novelty events up and down the pool. We did the bog standard running race, then the hopping challenge but eventually came up with the “Star Jump, Kangaroo Bound, Waltzing Matilda twirl, Wriggle like a Snake” race that kept us amused for quite a while!
Darryl was on dinner duties tonight and came up with a splendid Thai Green Curry. It always goes down well. We’d been telling Caroline and Andy about Geocaching and there were a couple hidden close by so Caroline & I went for a walk to see if we could find one of them. They’ve got a hand held GPS which is really what you need to do the job but they can’t find it so we gave it a go with our Tom Tom. By the time we set
off the sun is quickly fading from the sky and we lose light way before we get to ground zero. Despite being in the city there’s still a possibility of snakes in long grass so we return to the camp empty handed but willing to try it again tomorrow.
While I was out Darryl had taken a call from Jane (of Jane & Tony who we toured Tasmania with) as we’re due to visit them shortly at their home in Orange. It sounds like there are lots of exciting plans afoot and we’re very much looking forward to spending more time with them.
That was pretty much it for the night. Andy & Caroline head back off to work tomorrow while we will let Canberra entertain us for another day.
Dar and Sar
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