This is taking to the skies the easy way and the most glorious way!
n and Shirley Cameron have been running Cameron Balloon Flights Mildura for more than 15 years.
The best time for ballooning is very early morning. Weather patterns are more predictable and calm then when the air is heated by the sun, the weather can become changeable. Another reason is the wonderful view at that time of day.
Mildura is a popular ballooning spot as the weather is more predictable here than on the coast. Enthusiastic flyers who compete in the biannual championships practise here and there can be up to 40 balloons gently floating through the early morning sky at one time, a beautiful sight.
The Camerons collect passengers in their four-wheel drive and go to whichever launch field offers the best conditions on that particular day. There is a briefing and hands-on set up before boarding the basket for the ethereal float of a lifetime.
Take-off is very gentle. The feeling is as though the earth is pulling away from you, rather than you floating away from it.
There are many things to see as you head towards the NSW border. Patchworks of fruit and vegetable farms and vineyards, red desert with groups of kangaroos, cattle farms and lakes which are pink because of the iron in the soil. You fly low over houses and can even hear indignant dogs barking at the sight of a balloon. If you fly over the Murray River, you'll see early morning fishermen and waterskiers. Remember to take your camera and plenty of film!
Once you've landed, there is a traditional toast with a glass of bubbling wine and hot breakfast at a local diner. Here you receive your official souvenir certificates.
If you have family or friends with you who aren't keen on taking the balloon journey, they are welcome to follow the flight in the chase vehicle, subject to space. There is a small fee for that.
Mildura is hosting the nudie 16th World Hot Air Balloon Championship between June 26 and July 03 this year. Victorian school holidays are on during that time, and there are early-bird specials to take advantage of.
The Shed is a recently completed accommodation which is secluded and self-contained. Every luxury has been included, for example, the double spa in the main room boasts 17 microjets. The building was once a horse stable and much of the timber was kept for rebuilding, particularly noticeable in the king-size bedposts. There is a beautiful red gum dining table and comfortable lounge area. The rough timber and corrugated iron ceilings make it look like a big, welcoming barn. French doors open to a private courtyard balcony with outdoor furniture. The large bathroom has a double shower, separate toilet and twin basins.
Breakfast supplies, champagne, port and chocolates are included.
It is just two blocks from the city centre, where there are numerous excellent restaurants to choose from. Also close are a supermarket, lawn tennis courts, bowling green and arts centre.