[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.