Skip to content Skip to main navigation


Home loans made clear

Balloon Spectacular 2009 – Day 1

By johnboy 10 March 2009 38

[First filed: March 07, 2009 @ 08:53]

Despite their benign and sedate appearance hot air balloon festivals are pretty dangerous things. After space travel It’s hard to find an activity with a higher fatality rate. The basic problem is that hot air balloons have zero visibility above them, and limited visibility below them. And what are the only two directions of controlled movement available? Up, or down.

Anyway the Canberra Festival might have a lineup of limited appeal, but we’ve still got the balloons adorning the skies of Canberra every morning for the nine days of the Balloon Spectacular.

Advised it would all start at 6.30am I set the alarm for 6, resisted the urge to hit snooze, stumbled around blearily, and managed to get into the car with everything I needed.

On the Northern shore of the lake I was the first of what turned into quite a gaggle of photographers positioned to make the most of the occasion.

At 6.30am there were very few signs of activity from the far shore. If you’re thinking about going plan to get there by 7 and you won’t have missed much.

It was cold. It was dark. It was dull.

Then slowly the envelopes began to fill, the burners started to roar, and the balloons one by one took to the sky. Jazz music drifted over from the other side, and it was a beautiful morning to be alive.

There’s a special sort of smile that will break out on your face only when you see a string of hot air balloons drifting across the Canberra skyline.

As a once-off thing I recommend it highly.

Here’s a snippet of video I shot to get a sense of scale but I recommend the slideshow.

UPDATED: The ABC reports that despite it being an annual event the tent embassy have been so incensed by a lack of warning that one of them has thrown a spear at a balloon. The embassy is now being given a wider berth.

(Slideshow below)

What’s Your opinion?

Please login to post your comments, or connect with
38 Responses to
Balloon Spectacular 2009 – Day 1
Showing only Website comments
Newest to Oldest
Oldest to Newst
el 3:52 pm 03 May 09

I’m stunned that you consider throwing spears around in a public space acceptable.


hopeleft 3:36 pm 03 May 09

The spear thrower is a friend of mine, I ran into him a few days ago. The tent embassy is his official residence.
He was not charged but the police asked the Balloon Festival people to move on because they were trespassing without permission.
The tent embassy has been there for 37 years.

I’m stunned that anybody would show so much disrespect as to barge onto somebody’s home without permission. It’s even more stunning because of current tensions between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, in the context of recent laws that discriminate against Aboriginal people.

Bad move, Canberra balloon festival. A bit more thought in future would be good.

Pommy bastard 3:38 pm 13 Mar 09

Tidy bunch of them over Hawker/McGreggor at about 8.00 am today, most trying to squeak it in to land.

The “EU” balloon looked like it was going to land in the road.

lava 3:17 pm 13 Mar 09

Oops, meant to say that regardless of the official name, the pilots still refer to their balloon as a golliwog because that’s exactly what it is 🙂

lava 1:58 pm 13 Mar 09

The so called golliwog balloon is actually called Black Magic II.

The spear was thrown at the birthday cake balloon, which happens to be an American balloon – international incident! Not really. Luckily enough it was tethered, so did not woosh around the sky as it deflated as per small balloons! No one is launching from the site closest to the tent embassy any more, funnily enough!

This year the wind hasn’t been that fast and the direction seems to mostly towards Weston Park/Glenloch Interchange way so most balloons haven’t gotten much further than that.

Last year we did a lot of landing around Belconnen, wind is just in a different direction this year I guess – I’m crew, so don’t know enough about all the mechanics of it like my pilots would!

Depending on what you’re interested in , briefing for pilots usually ends around 6:30am, so set up of the balloon happens soon after. If you want to be in the middle of the action, be Questacon side from about that time, or for a panoramic view be city-side a bit after that to see all the balloons launch. You could even volunteer as crew if you really want to be in the thick of things.

Pommy bastard 8:35 am 10 Mar 09

Nice bunch of them around Gridlock, sorry Glenloch, interchange as I was going into work this am. One landed right in the middle of it.

That Birthday cake baloon looks a bugger to land.

taninaus 7:06 am 10 Mar 09

I went Monday morning – you would have wanted to be there before 7am as they were mostly in the sky by then. I was running to the 7am timeframe suggested by JB to find when I got to parliament house that a heap of balloons were over Lennox Gardens, so took a detour to the yacht club to see them all. Then when I went to the lawns saw the lady bug and birthday cake inflate and leave.

The only not so good thing on the day – the food was pitiful and did not cater to the numbers that were there – the lonely lyons BBQ with 50m lines and the mini pancakes with similar – too slow – I hate that I would spend more time in line for a feed than with my family enjoying the balloons or the music by Annie and the Armadillos -they haven’t learnt from previous years to set up more food stalls particuarly on the weekends.

Thumper 8:41 pm 09 Mar 09

Anyone know if the fckutard spear thrower was arrested?

vg 7:54 pm 09 Mar 09

BerraBoy68 said :

Granny said :

Our family loves Golliwogs. I’m going to buy some while I still can. What’s going to happen to Little Black Sambo? That’s one of my favourite books ever.

LOL. Buying golliwogs! This thread has certainly taken an accidental downturn and I’m sure I’m going to bad place for being amused by it.

@post #18 – Thumper: It’s funny if you can imaging the balloon whoooshing all over the sky after being pearced. That said, the thrower is a bloody dangerous idiot. I attended a course at OPH some years ago and one of the Tent ‘Ambassadors’ threw a spear at a bunch of tourists leaving the building. I asked the guards to call the cops, they didn’t. They just went outside and had a chat to him. Then he left to chase a couple of girls on their bikes with his sharpened stick.

Many years ago something like this would have been sorted out by a sound thrashing being dispensed.

Oh for those days again

(and I’m talking moronic public spear throwers in general, so don’t get on your race high horse)

caf 6:05 pm 09 Mar 09

Even more dangerous than Kite Festivals?

abc 4:49 pm 09 Mar 09

So let me get this straight.. the golliwog threw a spear at a balloon.

BerraBoy68 10:24 am 09 Mar 09

I took the family out this morning. We parked down by the Yacht Club and spent a good half hour watching as the balloons floated by, most seeking to touch down briefly on the lakes surface. We then drove on further, back down past the zoo and watched a few land. A very nice morning.

housebound 12:57 am 09 Mar 09

I didn’t go last year. I was thinking of years before that. Sorry – should have made it clearer. I would still like to know whether the reduced numbers are my memory or real.

deye 11:21 pm 08 Mar 09

housebound said :

We drove past this late-ish yesterday morning (around 8am), and it looked as if there were fewer balloons that in past years. Where was the frog and the house, for example?

I thought it might be because we were so very late, but the slides suggest that it was actually a bit quieter.

seemed to be a similar number to the days I attended last year.

R. Slicker 4:08 pm 08 Mar 09

utah said :

…thrown a spear at a balloon.

I hope they charge him with racial vilification, as well as assault…

Ah, yes we were a bit overdue for one of the tent embassy’s regular publicity stunts.

Granny 1:39 pm 08 Mar 09

I’ve always thought the Tent Embassy adds a bit of local colour, and serves an important purpose in being there. It’s a constant reminder that there is a problem in our backyard. Kudos to them for sticking it out all these years.

I’ve never had a problem with it, even when I was too young to understand what it was all about.

Throwing spears at balloons and threatening people with sticks should be dealt with the same way as for any other Australian, however.

seekay 12:36 pm 08 Mar 09

The Victorian Labor state government and Melbourne City Council just tipped a bucket of water all over a “sacred fire” when a group of Aboriginal activists attempted to set up camp in Fitzroy Gardens, a stone’s throw away from Parliament House there.

Odd that that hasn’t been done to the “tent embassy”.

utah 12:21 pm 08 Mar 09

…thrown a spear at a balloon.

I hope they charge him with racial vilification, as well as assault…

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Copyright © 2018 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved. | | |

Search across the site