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Up, Up and Away Over Ipswich in a Hot Air Balloon

  • April 20, 2017
  • By 50 Shades
  • 32 Comments
Up, Up and Away Over Ipswich in a Hot Air Balloon

Most experiences in life that require getting up for before sunrise are generally worth the bleary eyes and the foggy brain. I should know because one such recent experience had me out of the warm comfort of my bed at the ungodly hour of 5.00am and into a ‘troopie’ before the sun had even thought about rising. It was to be an adventure like no other. Up, up and away over Ipswich in a hot air balloon flight that simply took my breath away.

Family owned and piloted, Floating Images Hot Air Balloons had invited me to soar the heavens with them above the grand old city of Ipswich, 40 kms west of Brisbane, and the lush Brisbane Valley. Once my fellow passengers and I clambered out of the ‘troopie’ into the pre-dawn darkness into long dewy grass at a nearby Ipswich Park, it was all hands on deck, or should I say on balloon!

Up Up and Away Over Ipswich

Inflating the envelope with hot air.

Floating Images Hot Air Balloons

We discovered that this particular flight was the debut of a brand new bright blue and yellow balloon or envelope. The envelope was released from her bag and dragged over the grass. It required a bit of man and womanpower to get her stretched out in readiness for attaching to the basket and then inflation. Once she was inflated I was amazed by her magnitude.

Up Up and Away Over Ipswich

Ready for takeoff

With a call of “all aboard” we climbed into the wicker basket, had a short pre-flight briefing on the safety aspects of ballooning, and then we ever so gently lifted off the ground. I felt little sensation of lift off as the basket started to ascend into the now golden glow of the dawn sky. It was only when I looked below that I could see we were indeed flying and climbing higher and higher!

Up Up and Away Over Ipswich

Views over Ipswich and Flinders Peak

Ipswich Views

From the air we could see the city of Ipswich below us like an aerial map made up of buildings, sprawling green parks and sporting fields, and the snake-like shape of the Bremer River. To the east we could just make out the skyline of Brisbane city; to the west the Lockyer Valley and the Great Dividing Range; and to the north, where we were headed, Pine Mountain and the two dams of Lake Manchester and Lake Wivenhoe.

Up Up and Away Over Ipswich

Looking at the rising sun and Brisbane city to the east

There was morning mist hanging over the verdant green landscape and the farmlands looked like a patchwork of green and brown paddocks.

There was morning mist hanging over the verdant green landscape and the farmlands looked like a patchwork of green and brown paddocks.

A patchwork of farmland below us at Pine Mountain

As we floated effortlessly towards Pine Mountain we learnt that we were at an elevation of 3,000 feet and that our speed was in the vicinity of 35 kilometres per hour. However it still felt as if we weren’t really moving at all. Now and again our pilot Graeme adjusted speed and height by using the LPG burner to increase the amount of hot air in the envelope to create more lift. Otherwise the direction a balloon flies depends entirely on which way the wind is blowing. Luckily for us it was a light southerly carrying us to the north.

Up Up and Away Over Ipswich

Views to the north over Brisbane Valley and Lake Wivenhoe

Pine Mountain

The world beneath us was awakening to a new day but the silence was golden with not even a sound as we kept soaring along. There are few experiences that I’ve had that would compare with the peacefulness and serenity of this hour-long flight. As our journey progressed, our pilot Graeme was only too happy to answer any of our questions regarding Ipswich and the surrounding region so the flight was not only pleasurable, but it was also educational.

Up Up and Away Over Ipswich

Floating somewhere over the landscape north of Ipswich Photo Credit: Floating Images

As the balloon started to descend into the extensive farmland just north of Pine Mountain, towards our landing spot I could see the trees were appearing larger and you could make out buildings, cars and farm animals. In what seemed like no time at all, we moved into our landing positions in the basket and softly landed on the grass in the paddock. We were back on terra firma!

Up Up and Away Over Ipswich

Coming in for landing somewhere in a paddock at Pine Mountain

There to greet us was the ‘troopie’ and trailer, Graeme’s lovely wife Ruth and teenage twins all with welcoming smiles on their faces. It was a matter of packing up the balloon and squishing the envelope back into her bag, which required quite a lot of team effort. Then it was back to Ipswich for a hearty breakfast, whilst everyone babbled about his or her individual balloon experience enroute. The consensus was that it was a splendid way to start the day!

Letting the air out of the envelope

Floating Images BAD Package

My ballooning experience was part of Floating Images Hot Air Balloon’s BAD Package, that comprised of one night’s accommodation at the Metro Hotel Ipswich International in Ipswich, a delicious dinner at Harvest Restaurant at the hotel, the balloon flight, all transfers and a divine hot breakfast after the flight back at the hotel.

Up Up and Away Over Ipswich

Floating effortlessly in the skies over Ipswich

Metro Hotel’s 4.5 star accommodation is located in the heart of the city and offers comfortable spacious rooms with modern décor, queen size bed and all the mod cons such as internet access, LCD TV with cable channels, and minibar.

Up Up and Away Over Ipswich

The stylish and comfortable Metro Hotel in Ipswich

Dinner in Metro’s Harvest Restaurant was a gastronomic delight. Harvest offers Tapas style, (or little plates) menu throughout the day, and a full a-la-carte dinner menu of an evening with a selection of meals to suit every taste. For me I chose a crispy skinned piece of salmon served with two-coloured beetroots, smashed kipfler potatoes and sprinkled with crushed hazelnuts. Of course the dish was washed down with a crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc from their extensive wine list.

Up Up and Away Over Ipswich

Reception Area at Metro Hotel in Ipswich

If you’re looking to impress that special someone or have an important occasion to celebrate a Floating Images Hot Air Balloon BAD Package would be perfect. A word of warning however, hot air ballooning is highly addictive!

Have you been on a hot air balloon flight?

This post is part of the Lovin’ Life Linky with a Lovin’ Life Team of the “ageing positively” kind who are as keen as I am to promote the Lovin’ Life mindset. The Lovin’ Life Team includes:

Johanna from Lifestyle Fifty
Min from Write of the Middle.
Leanne from Deep Fried Fruit
Jo from And Anyways
and of course me, Kathy from 50 Shades of Age


By 50 Shades, April 20, 2017 Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 4 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now 60. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Gold Coast in Queensland. She enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, movies, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
  • 32

50 Shades

Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 4 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now 60. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Gold Coast in Queensland. She enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, movies, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.

32 Comments
  • Ingrid @ Fabulous and Fun Life
    April 20, 2017

    What an amazing experience you had! I have always wanted to fly in a hot air balloon but one thing that has stopped me is a friend telling me that the landing can be quite harsh and jolting. It doesn’t sound like that was the case in your experience at all! You’ve inspired me to look into doing this sooner rather than later!

    Ingrid
    http://www.fabulousandfunlife.blogspot.com.au

    • Kathy
      April 20, 2017

      Hi Ingrid, I can assure you that the landing was very gentle. The entire hot air balloon flight experience was exhilarating and I would highly recommend it. :) #TeamLovinLife

  • Jo@JoSimplyWill
    April 20, 2017

    Kathy the photography is spectacular, and what a brilliant day you had for your ballooning. I’ve never done it, and don’t think I’d have the nerve. There is something so appealing though about seeing the earth from above.

    • Kathy
      April 20, 2017

      Thanks Jo. I can assure you that I felt perfectly safe up in the hot air balloon. It wasn’t really like flying, but rather floating gently over the landscape. I think it was one of the best experiences of my life. :) #TeamLovinLife

  • Jo tracey
    April 20, 2017

    Your pics are great & seeing that scenery from up there? That would be unforgettable. #teamLovinLife

    • Kathy
      April 20, 2017

      I think the hot air balloon experience will be up there with some of my most memorable ones. The scenery was breath taking! :)

  • Anne
    April 20, 2017

    What an experience. I have always wanted to go in a hot air balloon. Beautiful photos.

    • Kathy
      April 20, 2017

      Thanks Anne. Yes it was an incredible experience. Hot air ballooning had always been on my bucket list too, so now I can tick this off! #TeamLovinLife

  • Deborah
    April 20, 2017

    This looks amazing Kathy. I remember when I lived in Canberra (in the mid-late 1990s) it was the first time I saw hot air balloons and it was a big thing there. I didn’t see much of it in Qld (or Brissy) but it’s wonderful that it is available.

    I think I’d be a little nervous about something going wrong, but hopefully that would stay firmly planted in the BACK of my mind and I’d enjoy myself!

    • Kathy
      April 20, 2017

      It’s more of a risk driving on the roads than floating in a hot air balloon! I felt very safe and secure whilst I was flying. It was an incredible experience. :)

  • Min@WriteoftheMiddle
    April 20, 2017

    Wow – what a fabulous experience. All of it! The BAD package sounds fabulous. The photographs are wonderful too Kathy. I have a wee little fear of hot air ballooning but a huge part of me would so love to do it. #TeamLovinLife

    • Kathy
      April 20, 2017

      It wasn’t BAD at all Min! Not at all scary and a fabulous way to start the day with such stunning scenery. You should give it a go! :)

  • Janet
    April 20, 2017

    Two things have put me off a balloon flight: getting up before dawn, and a fear of heights. But it is becoming more and more appealing and I reckon I just might do it one of these days! As you said – definitely worth it!

    • Kathy
      April 20, 2017

      It was worth getting up early for – trust me! I also have a fear of heights but didn’t feel frightened in the least. It wasn’t like flying – it was more like floating.:) #TeamLovinLife

  • Lyndall @ SeizeTheDayProject
    April 20, 2017

    Looks like an awesome morning for you and your hubby Kathy. I’ve been hot air ballooning in the Hunter Valley, which was amazing. We were surprised how smoothly we ascended and descended … and how quiet it was while we were up there (except when they fire the gas to reheat the balloon!) #TeamLovinLife

    • Kathy
      April 20, 2017

      Oh yes the hot air bursts were a little noisy, but apart from that there was complete silence up in the sky floating gently over the landscape. A gorgeous way to celebrate a special occasion or maybe pop the question! :)

  • jodie
    April 20, 2017

    What a fabulous experience, Kathy!!
    My mom did this once about 15 years ago and loved it!!
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • Kathy
      April 20, 2017

      Your mom will know what I’m talking about then! It was a truly memorable experience and I highly recommend it. :) #TeamLovinLife

  • Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond
    April 20, 2017

    What a fabulous experience Kathy! The morning was gorgeous and perfect for a balloon ride. I loved all of your photos and will be looking out for two new TV stars LOL:) The hotel looked great as well. Ipswich has certainly come a long way.

    • Kathy
      April 20, 2017

      The morning was perfect for hot air ballooning. Not a cloud in the sky and the sun was shining brightly. Fortunately we will be overseas when the TV show airs. We’re certainly not TV stars! Metro Hotel in Ipswich was first class and in such a great central location. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and the hot air balloon flight was amazing!:) #TeamLovinLife

  • Sydney Shop Girl
    April 21, 2017

    What an amazing experience, Kathy! Those photos are amazing too.

    SSG xxx

    • Kathy
      April 21, 2017

      Thank you, yes it was very exhilarating soaring above the beautiful green terrain surrounding Ipswich. I would highly recommend it! :) #TeamLovinLife

  • Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit
    April 21, 2017

    That photo of you all in the basket from above is the best.
    Looks gorgeous
    I got a hot air balloon ride for my 40th from my uni friends. I got to see Canberra from above. So much fun.
    #teamlovinlife

    • Kathy
      April 21, 2017

      Yes that was taken from a camera attached to a trapeze off the balloon basket. It was stunning. It’s hard to explain so you will know what I’m talking about. :)

  • Jan Wild
    April 21, 2017

    Ballooning has always been on my bucket list, I think it has jumped up a few spots after reading this post Kathy! I can imagine how it must feel to soar over the earth and yet still feel a connection to it. No doubt an experience you will remember for a long time.

    • Kathy
      April 21, 2017

      It had been on mine too Jan. It was a remarkable experience and I’m so grateful that I got the opportunity to do this and write about it. :) #TeamLovinLife

  • Leanne
    April 21, 2017

    It sounds amazing Kathy – I definitely want to try ballooning before I die! It would be so peaceful soaring over the treetops and your photos were gorgeous (as always!)
    http://www.crestingthehill.com.au/2017/04/a-z-challenge-why-midlifes-fabulous-h.html

    • Kathy
      April 21, 2017

      Strangely this is one bucket list item that I’ve kept putting aside. I’m so grateful that I got the opportunity to do it now and on a such picture-perfect morning. It was amazing! :) #TeamLovinLife

  • Sue
    April 21, 2017

    I’m glad you had such a wonderful experience Kathy and have joined the hot air balloon lovers like myself! I have experienced this in Cappadocia, Turkey and Bagan in Myanmar a few years ago, and just so enjoyed both. It’s that complete silence you mentioned that is so perfect I find when you are in the sky. Also the Ipswich Metro Hotel sounds a lovely place to stay. 👍❤️

    • Kathy
      April 21, 2017

      Oh wow you are a regular hot air balloon flyer! Now that I’ve had a taste of it I would love to do this in every country I visit. I wonder if they have them in Italy? The whole accom, dinner and hot air balloon flight package was top class. :) #TeamLovinLife

  • Rhonda Albom
    April 22, 2017

    One of my former college roommates races her hot air balloon, but I have never been. Your sunrise photo surprised me, as it looked so light in the photos before you took off. Daybreak is such an interesting time of the light.

    • Kathy
      April 22, 2017

      Yes it was strange that is was kind of light in the park in Ipswich prior to takeoff, but when I aimed my camera towards the east it was darkness and the sun starting to rise over the ocean near Brisbane. My camera settings were had to be adjusted for light many times during the morning! It was a fabulous experience. :) #TeamLovinLife

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