Picture This Ballooning started in 1996 with their first balloon being a 90 foot Sherrin Australian Football. It was CEO Damian Crock’s idea and was used in the 2010 Australian Football Grand Final Cup presentation. The success and popularity of this prompted the creation of Picture This Ballooning.
The Picture This Ballooning experience is all encompassing. Meeting at the Sofitel Hotel on Collins Street at 4 A.M., you are treated to a selection of tea and coffee whilst the balloon pilots brief you on how the morning is expected to run. Once briefed, you are whisked down to Yarra bend for a spot of high-tech weather analysis for wind speed and direction, a helium balloon with a GPS tracker. Once the crews have consulted with the meteorological department, you are taken to a launch site where the real fun begins.
Participants are encouraged to take part in launching the balloon. With large fans and a little effort, the balloon is suddenly upright and the boarding process begins, don’t forget to smile for the camera as their cameraman and GoPro takes snapshots of the journey. The balloon pilots are extremely dedicated and professional, involving you where they can along the way. Their joy is in the looks on their passengers’ faces, for whom many it is their first time in a hot air balloon.
When cruising along the Melbourne skyline at 1,200 feet, you are treated to breathtaking sights of the CBD and the Yarra Valley and is perhaps the most peaceful mode of transport you could wish for. Make sure you have your camera at hand but not at the expense of enjoying the ride. The early start means you are in for a spectacular sunrise, too. The pilots recommend a light bite for breakfast, such as a banana. There is an option to choose a champagne breakfast where you can return back with the crew and your new airborne friends on the 35th floor of the Sofitel Hotel, where you are treated to more spectacular views of Melbourne.
Launching and flying in the balloon is only half the story. There is also the landing. This is perhaps one of the highlights of the tour as the balloon pilots glide to the designated landing zone, where a driver awaits to transport you back to the city for a champagne breakfast.
The Picture This Balloon experience is a must-do tour. Ben from Picture This Ballooning told the Culture Trip: ‘The huge variety of colours in the sky, from dark blue, to fluorescent pink, to purple; every colour on the spectrum make each sunrise is special in its own way, sneaking out of the clouds. It constantly thrills us as balloonists.’ Trust assured, it will thrill you as a passenger too.