Tuesday, January 16, 2018

DAY 181 – HOT AIR BALLOONING OVER THE YARRA VALLEY



Didn’t sleep to well last night.  I think the excitement of the hot air balloon ride and the fact that we had to be up at 3am kept me from fully getting to sleep. 
Chloe woke us at 3am on the dot.  We still had half an hour to wait before we knew for sure that the hot air balloon ride would go ahead.  We had to be ready to leave though, once we got the phone call, so we all had to be dressed ready to go.  

Chloe rang at 3.30am and got the go ahead for the morning, so we were off out to the car, the GPS set and off we went heading for the Chateau Yering, our meeting place.

It was a good 50 minute drive to our destination.  Once we got there, we were all bused to the launching paddock.  They have 70 locations in the Yarra Valley where they can take off and land from, and it really depends  on the winds on any given day as to where this location would be.  
 Once we got to the launching site, they let a helium balloon with a little red light take off to see if this was an appropriate place to take off from.  Our balloon indicated that we needed to change our launching site to another location.  
We were the first to arrive there and to start setting up.  We were joined by six other hot air balloons and it was a bit of a rush to see who could launch first.  



It was all hands on deck from the lot of us,  We are all required to  set up  and pack down the large balloon.  This is all part of the experience.  
We're off.... up in the air.....

 Our balloon was one of the biggest balloons taking off and their were 20 of us going up together in it….  The highlight for me was that Dan and Chloe were joining us in the adventure.  Just made it that little bit more special.  Mark our pilot has been flying balloons here in the Yarra Valley for 30 odd years so was very experienced.

Hit the ground..... first to land....
All starting to come down and land....
Our balloon was the first one ready for take off and we were in the air just before the others.  The ride was amazing, it offered us spectacular views of the Yarra River below, mountain ranges, vineyards and more in a really tranquil atmosphere. Not only did our sunrise adventure offer these amazing views  but it was  in such a tranquil atmosphere, and  this experience was like no other.  

It was quite amazing at one stage to be above the clouds and see the other balloons floating up and around us.  The mountains that surround the Yarra Valley provide  cool, stable conditions at dawn, which is perfect for hot air ballooning, and apparently weather permitting; they do these rides each day of the week.  



We were in the air for just over an hour, before coming down in a paddock somewhere.  We were the first balloon up and one of the last balloons to land, so I figure that Go Wild Ballooning really was good value, and one of the best.  It has been an amazing morning, one I will never ever forget.  
Once we had landed, that it was time to take the balloon down and pack it away.  We were able to get some amazing photos of our balloon just after landing before it was pulled down, which was great, because we weren’t able to get photos of it whilst in the air, and as ours was the most colourful, I really wanted photos of our balloon.  

I was fortunate as I was excused from helping with the big balloon because of its weight and because of the condition of my back.  In fact, I was a little nervous about the balloon ride as we had to stand in the basket for an hour or more and my back really doesn’t handle standing in one spot well at all.  Fortunately, were was padded cushioning in our basket that I could lean against so this helped take the pressure off the  bottom of my back. 
Champagne Breakfast
I was amazed at how quickly, they were able to take the balloon down and pack it all away.  They are very streamlined, everyone had a job to do, and it really was done in no time at all.  Then it was time to load us all into the bus and bus us back to the Chateau Yering which was our breakfast destination before heading home.  

The Chateau Yering is a heritage listed restored 1854 Victorian mansion that has now been turned into a gracious five star hotel. It has 32 individually designed suites, Eleonore’s Restaurant and the Sweetwater Café, which was the location for our champagne breakfast after our hot air balloon ride.
The hotel is exquisite, beautifully set out with magnificent drapes and drawing rooms that guests can relax in.  The Sweetwater Café is situated in one of the sunrooms at the back of the Chateau and overlooks their magnificent gardens.  We enjoyed a lovely buffet breakfast, with home cook loaves of bread, croissants, Danish pastries, fruit juice, homemade jams, cheeses, meats, berries, fruits, yoghurts, teas, coffees and hot chocolates and it was all delicious.  We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, sat, and chatted for a couple of hours before heading back into Melbourne, back to our caravan park to pick up some medication that we needed.  


We were all totally shattered by the time we got back to the caravan park, and Chloe and I crashed on our bed,  Steve crashed in his chair under the awning and Dan lay on the cement slab and we all fell asleep for probably an hour… 

Once we woke up it was back to Dan and Chloe’s for a rest and a movie and then back to Chadstone Shopping Centre around 3.45pm as we had an appointment with the Apple Store to have a new battery put in my phone.  They told us it would take about 3 hours, so we decided to go to the Hoyts Movie theatre which was just done from the Apple Store to see Jumunji.

It was a great movie, made even better by the fact that the cinema there had an enormous screen and reclining lounge chairs to sit in with plenty of leg room.   

Hoyts Movie Theatre - Chadstone Shopping Centre Melbourne
Amazing seats and so comfortable

We have never been to a cinema like this before, other than paying extra for Gold Class, so this was a real treat. 

Jumunji was actually a good movie, totally different to what I thought it would be and in my opinion way better than the first Jumunji.  I know we laughed quite a bit throughout it.   It was one of those movies that I probably would be happy to watch it again.

We had planned on going out for a farewell dinner tonight, but by the time we got out of the movies and finsihed at the Apple Shop it was close to 8pm so we just grabbed a quick bite to eat in the food court at the shopping centre before heading back to Dan and Chloe's we we just sat around chatting together.. We were all feeling a little sad that our time together in Melbourne was coming to an end, especially so since we had been looking forward to it for such a long time.  
 
Dan and Chloe were especially sad that we were leaving in the morning and asked us to stay one more day.  It didn’t take much to convince us, as we hadn’t really done any packing, which meant that we would not get away early in the morning, so in the end we decided to spend one more day with them in Melbourne.   It was almost midnight by the time we got home…

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