Why Melbourne is leading the hot-air ballooning industry 150 years on
Melbourne’s connection to the oldest form of flight runs deep, with the city offering hot-air ballooning experiences not seen anywhere else in the world.
On a clear morning in Melbourne, it’s not unusual to spot hot-air balloons floating high above the city. It’s a common sight for locals who might not realise the true rarity of the heavenly spectacle.
“It’s extremely unusual,” says Kiff Saunders, the director of the Victoria’s largest ballooning operator, Global Ballooning. “I would say [Melbourne] is the only major, popular city that you could traverse by balloon.”
As a city known globally for its food, coffee, and sport, Melbourne is also a city unique for its ballooning culture, with the world’s oldest successful method of manned flight continuing to attract around 11,000 visitors and locals to its skies every year.
“Drifting through the sky in a balloon... I think everyone has a vision of that,” Saunders says. “For me, just being able to float above the world, looking down as the city or where I am comes to life with all those changing colours... I never get sick of it.”