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Ballooning In Byron Bay – Sunrise Style

I’m an absolute sucker for a couple of things when I’m on the road, the first is waterfalls and the second is sunsets.  Waterfalls are pretty to look at and calming, much like sunsets actually, and they’re both fairly easy to photograph even for an amateur like me.  When I mention sunsets however people always say ‘but what about sunrises?’  It’s like a natural reflex and a fair one at that, but I’m rarely up and out of bed early enough to see the sunrise.

I’m not exactly a creature of the night, but I do like a little snooze in the morning time.  Currently my alarm for work goes off at 6.55am, I get up around 7.30am, hitting the snooze button 5 times in between.

As Jack Johnson sang ‘wake up slow’.


Byron Tradition

Sunrise Over the Bay

However, when you’re staying in Australia’s most eastern region, the first place in Australia to see each new day, it’d be rude not to take in a sight like that, and the famous Cape Byron Lighthouse affords those committed enough to drag themselves away from cheeky monkeys a rather decent view.

Constructed in 1901 the Cape Byron Lighthouse stands on the most easterly point of the Australian mainland and is Australia’s most easterly lighthouse.  Most mornings local hostels will try and find a member of staff who hasn’t been out the night before to drive potentially still intoxicated backpackers up to the lighthouse so that they can take in the view.  It’s a spectacle not to be missed.

But miss the hostel bus I did – and with good reason – for I was flying high above Byron when I took in the sunrise, I was in a hot air balloon.

It was a tough choice between hang gliding and a hot air balloon ride but eventually the balloon ride got me.  I showed god like will power to resist the Byron nightlife and rose from my bunk at 4.30 ish which is usually considered bedtime amongst a lot of backpackers, but my sacrifice was worth it.


Take Off

Getting Ready For Take Off...

By 5.45am I was high above Byron sharing a bottle of champagne and watching the most gloriously mix of reds, oranges and yellows as they burst out from behind the horizon and flooded Byron Bay with light.

The balloon ride itself got off to a shaky start as there were some angry looking clouds loitering in the distance that we did not want to get caught up in.  I like a thunderstorm, but I don’t want to end up in the middle of one.

The clouds passed though and whilst it was a daunting height at which we floated the ride was smooth and enjoyable if not a tad chilly.  Whilst the view was spectacular, potentially the most interesting bit of the ride was the landing, not because we crashed, but because we simply landed in someone’s back garden, as you do.  The protocol seems to be that you land, and then one of the crew knocks on the door of the landowners and ask for permission to land (tad late maybe).

If you’re denied landing permission you have to take off again and find someone else’s back garden to set down in.  In this case the landowner wasn’t in, so we were a tad cheeky and did what we had to do.

No harm done.

Now I realise this isn’t something that’s within every backpackers budget, to be honest it wasn’t really within mine, but sometimes you have to splash out of you want to see the really good stuff, and good this was.

Go on, treat yourself.

The Roaring Flame of Flight
This is a guest post by Neil from Pack and Bunks – go check out his blogging antics at www.backpacksandbunkbeds.co.uk or follow his travels on twitter over @packsandbunks …if you fancy seeing the Bay from the air go check out Byron Bay Ballooning – prices are from $325 per adult.