Home Travel Amazing Australia: the Outback, Hot Air Balloons & Exotic Animals

Amazing Australia: the Outback, Hot Air Balloons & Exotic Animals

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Australia hot air balloon
Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia - 2006: Outback hot-air ballooning over the central Australian plains south of Alice Springs.

By Evelyn B. Kelly PhD 

After spending the night in Cairns (pronounced “Cans”), we were ready for some Australian fun in a hot air balloon. We would fly over the Outback, a remote inland area with large farms; although the vegetation looks scrubby, farming still occurs.  

Hot Air Balloon 

Sitting in a clearing was a vast straw-colored basket about six feet tall with a wide rim. The basket was tied to the ground by ropes ending in a spike, and the balloon had a huge yellow and blue world map.  

The height of the basket was a challenge to climb, but we were helped (pushed) into it. As we waited, we looked up, and above us were various gadgets with gauges. Four round cylinders generated hot air to fill the balloon. So, with lots of whooshing, swishing, and yelling to guys on the ground to unhook the ropes, we were off and gently rising straight up. Once we reached a certain altitude, we crept. 

Related: Armchair Adventures: Blarney Stone & The Gift of Gab

Australia has a wealth of jaw-dropping beauty. We looked over and saw some towns: Cairns and Port Douglas. The grass looked autumn-brown but had some trees of color. Other balloons were in the air, too: a rainbow of colored teardrop shapes. One was red and white stripes with a blue bottom; another was yellow with a red top. 

As we floated forward, we could see parts of the rainforest and see a few sparely located homes. Kangaroos were everywhere in the wild. They hopped as if trying to keep up with us. 

Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Hot Air Ballooning

We flew through the clouds. Although we fear heights, it was very peaceful and serene in the basket and we felt very secure. At the end, we touched down softly, with men grabbing the ropes to keep it even as we landed. The operator even asked if we would help him fold the balloon, so we followed his directions.  

Animal Farm 

Now that we had seen kangaroos in the wild, we went back to Sydney to see more of them at the Featherdale Wildlife Park. This eight-acre park specializes in Australia’s wildlife and birds. We were able to pet joeys (young kangaroos) and wallabies, a cousin of the kangaroo. The koalas were asleep. 

One star we did not see was the white dingo. The dingo looks like a dog…or is it a wolf? Some say it is neither but an early offshoot of all modern dog breeds, somewhere between a wolf and domesticated dogs. 

Our favorite was the Tasmanian devil, a small doglike scavenger that is stocky and black with white markings. This marsupial has strong jaws and claws that crush and rend bones and fur, creating a crunching noise when eating.