We have found an awesome way to see Melbourne’s skyline … from a hot air balloon of course!
Balloon Sunrise's chief pilot Chris Dewhirst flew over Mt Everest's summit in 1991 and was the first balloonist to do so. These days he is happy taking people on flights over Melbourne.
To get the full excitement of a balloon flight, sunrise is the best time of day, as conditions are more settled and the wind is less likely to change. So be prepared for a very early start.
You will receive a wake-up call at 4.30am, which is used as confirmation that the weather will allow the flight to go ahead. Everyone meets at a public carpark in Richmond, close to Balloon Sunrise's offices. You won't have trouble finding your group. There will be a minibus and trailer containing the balloon and its basket.
There is a discussion about weather, wind direction and which launch site will be best for your particular flight. There are 15 in the metropolitan area, including Albert Park and Royal Park near the zoo. Local residents on morning walks enjoy watching take-off preparations.
Everyone lends a hand to prepare the balloon for flight, unpacking it, laying it out and getting it ready for inflation. It's exciting watching the balloon slowly grow into a colourful globe ready to receive you for your float over Melbourne.
Once on board, operators say that even those people not too comfortable with heights feel relaxed. There is no sense of movement, the craft is sturdily built and you look out rather than down.
People of all ages can join in, but children need to be tall enough to see over the edge of the basket. They don't allow you to hold them during a flight. There isn't much room to move around, but the pilot can manoeuvre the balloon so everyone gets a good look.
Maximum flying height is around 915 metres, but they usually cruise at half that height. For around an hour you will take in Melbourne's metropolitan area. Locals enjoy spotting their homes or those of friends and family.
Back at Richmond, a delicious breakfast of champagne, scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, croissants, hotcakes and tea and coffee is served and non-passengers such as partners or parents are welcome to join in.
There are plenty of photo opportunities at the base.