Global Ballooning Australia is one of the best hot air balloon companies running in Melbourne, offering three flights in three different locations across Victoria. There’s the mountainous rides over Mansfield, the romantic rides over the Yarra Valley, and (maybe the most impressive), the flights over Melbourne’s CBD. In fact, Melbourne is the only major city in the world where commercial hot air balloons are able to fly over the CBD.
Your day starts an hour or so before sunrise, so this can vary depending on what time of year you ride. Hot air balloon rides are commonly run in the wee hours of the morning because that’s when conditions are most stable.
The CBD flight can run right through the guts of the city or scoot right around it. If you do ride through the city, you’ll get to see some teeny tiny office workers making their way to their high-rises and spot a few of Melbourne’s most famous icons from above. You’ll even get to see how the trees have been planted at Fitzroy Gardens to resemble a Union Jack (something you only really see when you’re several hundred metres above the city).
The ride itself is incredibly smooth, and there’s no quick drops or turns to worry about. The only bump you’ll feel is when you land – but don’t worry, your pilots give you ample instructions on how to prepare for landing.
Sunrise rides will have you in the air for around one hour, but it’s about a four-hour experience all up including prep, packing up as well as transport to the takeoff spot (which usually happens somewhere in Melbourne’s west) and back from the landing spot (usually somewhere in Melbourne’s east). Punters can also opt to have breakfast post-ride, which is usually a buffet breakfast (with sparkling wine!) at Richmond’s Amora Hotel Riverwalk. Keep in mind that while you take off in Melbourne's west, you will need to meet the Global Ballooning team at the Amora Hotel (they'll then ferry everyone to the launch location).
You’ll have to rug up for a sunrise ride, but it’s well worth it as you’ll get to see the sky burst with colour as the morning sun peeks over the horizon. Plus, when you’re up in the balloon there’s no wind as you’re effectively flowing with the wind towards your destination. And those burners sure do warm you up when they’re blasting.
Rides run every day of the week and start at $405 which includes complimentary in-flight photos. There’s also the option to book out the basket all to yourself (maybe for an extra special proposal?) which can be arranged with the team. Also good to note: Global Ballooning Australia is the only Victorian hot air balloon operator that offsets its carbon emissions.