August 29, 2001
During July, the morning was a bit chilly, so I would recommend bringing a jacket. In Mareeba, we parked and soon a balloon descended from the sky. It was hard to imagine that in just a few minutes we'd be taking our first balloon flight.
The basket is quite large and being only 5 feet tall, I found it difficult to climb into. Once inside the basket, our pilot Ron who has over 3,000 hours of flying experience set the balloon afloat.
As we slowly rose above the sugarcane and mango fields, the mountains and rainforest became visible. Ron pointed out each crop and all of the important geographical features. The balloon was quite noisy, but it couldn't have been more peaceful looking down at the world below us. Perhaps one of the most amazing views was the shadow of our ballon in the clouds.
Our 30 minute ride went by so quickly. Since the balloon travels with the wind, Ron had to telephone his "ground crew" so they would be ready for our landing. Once on the ground again, we all helped pack up the balloon. Then, we left for the Mareeba Heritage Museum where the champagne breakfast was served.
The breakfast included champagne, coffee, juice, chicken, quiche, fresh breads, and local produce. And not to be forgotten, the famous Vegemite spread. Vegemite is a uniquely Australian product made out of fermented yeast. It contains many vitamins and almost every Australian loves it. (It had to be the most disgusting thing I've ever tasted.)
Inside the Museum there are displays of Aboriginal culture and early Australian history. The gift shop also has local arts and crafts, aboriginal artifacts, souvenirs and local produce.
The 30 minute balloon ride including a complimentary hotel pickup/dropoff, breakfast, and admission to the museum is about $67 US. There's also a $10 US insurance fee is due the day of the ride. The minimum age is 4 years old. There are about 15 people in each balloon trip.
You have to get up early for this ride, but its a wonderful experience. I only wish our time in the balloon didn't go by so quickly.
From journal 12 Days in Oz - Cairns