Saturday, 14 January 2012
Surfers Paradise and Hot Air Ballooning
The high rise coast of Surfers Paradise from the main beach.
Hot Air Ballooning over the Gold Coast.
After my last night in Byron Bay spent dancing under a full moon by the sea to the sound of furious bongos, I left for Surfers Paradise. I can honestly say that it is the worst place I've been since I've been away. Not only was the hostel disgusting, with cockroaches in the bathroom and a virtually non-existent mattress, but the town was cheap and nasty, filled with casinos, and binge drinking teens. As you can probably tell, twas not to my tastes. So I stayed on the beach buying nothing but food as the only thing I wanted to take away from that place was a tan.
Luckily most of my second day in Surfers was spent going on a Hot Air Balloon ride. It's been one of those things I've always wanted to do and I wasn't disappointed. I got picked up at 4am, and was shocked to find Asian couples being the predominant customer, but a few more people arrived that actually spoke English and didn't ignore me entirely. After a couple of hours drive we got to a random field somewhere with the unmistakeable sight of 2 large hot air balloons, already blown up and waiting for us. After a quick safety talk we were loaded on and off we flew.
The previous day I had been informed that only last week a hot air balloon had crashed and all aboard had died, so you can assume I was somewhat nervous. Gradually we got up to 5000 feet, above the clouds and over the fields, the spectacular scenery doing away with all my fears. And even though we were so high up, in basically a big wicker basket with nothing to strap us in, I was calmly flying over NSW. 'Bloody bliss' I thought.
On landing we nearly ended up in a tree, then knocking a stubborn cow over, but we touched the ground with a soft bump and waited for the balloon to deflate. The 'driver' pulled this cord and opened a widening circle of fabric at the very top of the balloon to let all the hot air out then pulled another cord so the whole thing lay on it's side. Then we all started jumping on the thing to get the air out, roll it up and put it away in a huge bag. Spent, we got in the van and drove to breakfast, it only being 8am by this time.
O'Reilly's vineyard was an hours drive away, and getting greeted by a cold glass of champagne and a huge breakfast was just the ticket. For the first time in my life, I declined free wine tasting. Afterwards, we had a wander, and then it was time to get back on the bus, a 2 hour drive, and back into bed at Surfers by 11. What a splendid morning.