02Good evening Wallywatchers!
Today started with a rather rude alarm call at 3:30am! This was because it was our sunrise balloon flight!
We left our hotel at 4:30am bleary-eyed and drove to the pickup point, which was another hotel around 15km away. When we arrived, we signed our lives away by way of disclaimers and were swiftly bundled into a minibus, with round 18 other people. We were told that as the wind conditions were not favourable for a beach flight, we would instead be taking a flight over the mountains further inland. The minibus journey was around 50 minutes with a pee break 30 minutes in.
When we arrived at the balloon launch site at precisely 6am, we saw a couple of wild kanagroos bounding over the adjacent golf course. We lined up next to the still-inflating balloon and waited for the basket to right itself before (very elegantly) climbing in.
We started talking to the pilot, Nigel, and discovered he is from Bath! (Small world!) how we could have missed that telltale West Country accent, I dont know!
Once we were all in our correct compartment of the balloon (there were 5 sections, one of which was for the pilot and his multitude of canisters of flamable gas, we all had to practice our landing positions – hang onto the ropes inside bthe basket and lean back. Soon enough we were up, up and away; floating over the Queensland countryside, but able to see the skyline of Brisbane off in the distance. The flight lasted around an hour and we travelled an estimated 13-15km in that time. (Slow progress, as you can see, although still impressive as we were aided only by wind power!)
We came in to land in a paddock with a track running down the middle, and the pilot aimed for the track. Despite my doubts, he hit the track pretty much spot on and we slid to a halt only a few meters past it.
We were then informed (upon gracefully exiting the basket) that we would be heading off for breakfast as soon as the balloon was packed away, so most of the passengers duely helped out folding the balloon, and packing it away in its trailer, before hoisting the basket onto another trailer to be towed away.
We arrived back at the pickup point hotel at exactly 10am (all of that work and travelling back and forth ALL BEFORE 10am!!) and were treated to a champagne breakfast consisting of pretty much everything you could think of, including chinese fish soup(!!)
We finished eating and headed back to our hotel to finish our interupted night’s sleep – waking at 1pm ready for some more adventures, we headed off to Cavill Avenue to board the original, often imitated but never beaten, Aquaduck (Quack, quack!!) This is an amphibious bus that drives down to the boat ramp, sinks down into the estuary and drives around the nearby sights including Sea World and some other rather posh beachside houses belonging to the rich and well-to-do. The tour was made even more enjoyable by the dead-pan humour of the captain, and also the sight of wild dolphins swimming around the Aquaduck for a while before being scared off by a rich person in a yacht.
We arrived back in Cavill Avenue around an hour later and wondered off towards the shopping district. After wondering for a fair while, we came across Gold Coast’s version of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! – The Odditorium, so we decided to pay it a visit (but all the while hoping not to be mistaken for an exhibit and locked inside!)
It was interesting perusing the medieval torture devices, shrunken heads and manhood pouches on display, as well as measuring up against the tallest man who ever lived, and a copy of Di Vinci’s Last Supper made entirely out of toast. (For real!)
We left the Odditorium feeling rather hungry after a long day, so we found a lovely quiet restaurant nearby and ordered a burger each (Halloumi veggie for her, and a crispy chicken for him) as well as a couple of cocktails – a Pina Colada (served in a coconut) and a Potted Parrot (served in an actual parrot!) both of which were delicious, as were the burgers, although also very large!
After dinner, we wondered back towards the hotel via a few more shops, although tiredness was creeping in, so it wasn’t long before we made our way back to the hotel, and into bed.
Tomorrow is the beginning of our return – the first leg from Gold Coast back to Sydney.
Sadly, this means our holiday is coming to an end, so blogs may not be daily from now on, however we hope to add a further blog on Friday from Sydney Airport on our way home.
Dave & Gem