How to get a bird's-eye view of Melbourne
The Yarra Valley already resembles a pastoral wonderland from the ground – imagine how it looks from up in a hot air balloon. Global Ballooning Australia runs a one-hour sunrise tour over the Yarra Valley for those looking to see the bucolic landscape from a bird's eye perspective. If you’re staying in the Melbourne CBD you can get free transfer to and from the valley, plus your flight will be completely carbon neutral. Need a post-flight feed? Global Ballooning also offers the option of a Champagne breakfast at Balgownie Estate.
Before you get excited, no, this is not a hot air balloon flight that takes you from winery to winery. That is too good to be true. Still, there’s probably no better way to get a thorough understanding of the Yarra Valley than to glide over it at sunrise before sipping your way through it in the afternoon. Global Ballooning’s Yarra Valley and Winery tour gives you both. Start your time in the Yarra with an early morning balloon flight before indulging in a Champagne breakfast and hitting the local vineyards like Punt Road, Balgownie Estate (where you’ll eat lunch), Yering Farm and Domaine Chandon.
Catch Melbourne before it wakes up with a sunrise flight from BalloonMan. The balloonman in question, Chris Shorten, has been flying passengers above Melbourne for more than two decades. His dawn balloon tour flies most days of the year (weather permitting) and includes free photos and a time lapse video. Plus after your flight you can enjoy a Champagne buffet breakfast in a private dining room at the Grand Hyatt.
Life hack: you can avoid the tourists on the Great Ocean Road by seeing it from the air. 12 Apostles Helicopters run three tours that take in all the rugged ocean-meets-rainforest beauty of the Great Ocean Road. A 15 minute tour takes in the “12” Apostles, London Bridge, Loch Ard Gorge, the Sentinel and the Arch. But if you’re after a more thorough look at the Shipwreck Coast the company also offers a one hour that also includes a look at the Bay of Islands and Cape Otway Lighthouse.
If you’re one of those people delighted by the thought of throwing yourself off a plane, then Skydive Melbourne will be happy to enable that insane urge. You’ll leap from 15,000 feet in the air and rush towards the earth at a speedy 200km, freefalling for 60 seconds before floating down to a graceful landing at St Kilda beach. The tandem skydive is the only beach skydive in Melbourne there’s the option to have your compulsion for near-death experiences captured for posterity as photos or film.
Those who want to see Melbourne from on high without having to fling themselves out of a plane will appreciate Eureka Skydeck 88. At nearly 300 metres tall the skyscraper is home to over 500 apartments, a restaurant (Eureka 89) and of course, the Skydeck. As the tallest viewing platform in the southern hemisphere it gets the entire 88th floor to itself. Anyone looking for a toe-curling high altitude experience can “fall” off the building with the Vertigo green screen attraction, but the real gem is the Edge: a glass cube suspended over the edge of the tower. Not for the faint-hearted.
Daylesford may be famous as a centre of relaxation, but you know what even more relaxing than a dip in the mineral springs? Seeing them from 500 metres in the air. Picture This Ballooning runs morning flights over the fairy tale-like landscape of the Daylesford region. Transport to and from Daylesford is included in your ticket, and those looking to celebrate not floating away can do so with a post-flight Champagne brekkie (at an additional cost). And despite Daylesford having a reputation for being cold, once you’re in the air you should actually be quite cosy (the gas burners help with that).
Despite the slightly scary name, Tiger Moth planes are actually what WWII pilots used to train on – the tricycles of the sky if you will. This also makes the brightly coloured vintage biplanes perfect for tours. Tiger Moth World near Torquay offer biplane tours starting at $250. Fly out to the Airey’s Inlet lighthouse (i.e. the lighthouse from Round the Twist), the surfie haven of Bells Beach or head in the opposite direction to gaze down on the golden sands of Point Lonsdale and past Queenscliff lighthouse. Add some aerobatics onto your flight for a bit extra: choose from some relatively gentle barnstorming up to the stomach-inverting extreme aerobatics.