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Hot air Ballooning over Melbourne
Photograph: Roberto Seba

The best ways to see Melbourne from above

See your city from the clouds on these balloon rides, plane trips and skydiving experiences

Nicola Dowse
Written by
Nicola Dowse
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Did you know that Melbourne is the only major city in the world where you can fly hot air balloons over the CBD? Seeing Melbourne from way up in the sky brings a whole new perspective to the city. When you're standing, floating, flying or even falling from way above the trees and rooftops you can see things about the city you've missed a thousand times. 

If you prefer life at ground level, then check out the 101 things to do in Melbourne before you die, or embark on a solo adventure with these 24 ways to hang out alone in Melbourne.

How to get a bird's-eye view of Melbourne

  • Things to do
  • Richmond

Global Ballooning Australia is one of the best hot air balloon companies running in Melbourne. 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.

  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours

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.

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Richmond

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 a free transfer to and from the valley, plus your flight will be completely carbon neutral.

  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • St Kilda

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.

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Head up to Eureka Skydeck 88
  • Things to do
  • Southbank

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. Anyone looking for a toe-curling high altitude experience can head inside the Edge: a glass cube suspended over the edge of the tower. Not for the faint-hearted.

  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Daylesford

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 fairytale-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).

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Fly on a Tiger Moth plane
  • Sport and fitness
  • Torquay

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.

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