A personal diary about life in a country town, Bungendore NSW Australia

  Tuesday 11 March 2003
The camera crew (Geoff Ellis DOP.) and the Creative Director of Grey Canberra giving me the only smile I saw in the five days of her shoot.
I'm flying

I didn't think that I'd get a chance to ride in one of the three balloons until just a few minutes before they lifted from the ground. In typical low budget Canberra TV commercial fashion, we were piggy backing on a standard Balloons Aloft launch and they didn't want to inconvenience the paying passengers. At the last minute one needed (as they delicately put it) extra ballast and since I had a camera as well... Jan's shoot had called for some of Canberra's signature balloons and we'd all assembled at dawn to decide on the liftoff point. It turned out that the test ballon's wind direction had dictated that we could use the lawns next to Questacon with old Parliament House in the background.

It was great. No noise, open to the air and the excitement of being vulnerable in a cane basket suspended from a cloth bag of hot air.  I'd recommend it. It brought back the excitement of the first plane flights I made in a light plane, where you are low enough to have the same scale as you do in those dreams we all have of flying. Miniature people, scurrying cars and with all the detail of leaves on trees and swans on the lake. You quickly lose that magic when you fly on a big jet. They become bus trips. Hop on in Sydney, sleep badly, hop off in London. Tickets please, move down to the back of the bus.

Canberra is a great place to go ballooning too, there would be few cities were there are open spaces that allow you freedom of liftoff and landing that are so attractive, and so close to recognisable 'icons' like Parliament House and the lake. The pictures were ok. We drifted up and down through low cloud and had bright sunshine above, soft light below. 

The island with the small jetty and surrounding willows in the main photo, is Springbank Island, just past the Australian Museum. This was named after a property called 'Springbank', owned by the Kaye family in 1844. Before the Molongolo River was dammed to make the lake, it was originally a small hill, grandly called Macpherson's Sugarloaf after the original 1830s owner of a farm there, John Macpherson. The Canberra & District Historical Society website records that... 

"Joseph Kaye migrated to Australia in 1832 and in 1838 arrived in Queanbeyan, where he ran the local pub for several years. In 1844 the family moved to Springbank ... and took over the existing farm and buildings... 

The family eventually found the Springbank home unpleasant to live in because of the snakes in the swamps of the nearby Molonglo River which became a menace during times of flood. In about 1855 they retreated to a house near the present Hyatt Hotel Canberra. This was the family home until 1924. Their long occupancy of this house is marked by Kaye Street, along the side of the Albert Hall."

I could do a balloon flight again (and probably will). I like the sound of those flights over the wineries in the Loire valley where they serve a champagne breakfast when you land. 

  Fred Harden 2003 <thinktag> After a few days, these entries are added to the Archive Menu