Backyard Ballooning

So I find myself back the place where it all started for me. Launceston, Tasmania’s second largest City.

I took my leave from this island state in 1985. Back then it was a quite sleepy place with not a lot going on. The state of the economy poor and you counted yourself lucky to have a job. That said we always found ways to enjoy ourselves, some of them mischievous, most of it not.

Like most young Australian’s of that time all we wanted to do was get out of the place and check out the rest of the World. So myself & best mate Scotty filled up out backpacks and headed for London and from there spend an entire years traveling around Europe seeing amazing things meeting amazing people.

Scotty headed home after that year leaving me working in a London Pub with my partner Clare, who would later become my wife & business partner. It happened that our best customers in that pub were balloonists. Now the facts are is that these guys did more drinking and talking about flying than actually flying but we got lucky and they put us in contact with a company called Flying Pictures, who were at the time the largest operator of advertising balloon in the World. And that’s when our world changed.

We spent another 5 years in the UK working and flying with the best balloon pilots the World. If something wonderful, unique or spectacular was being done with a hot air balloon these were the guys to do, it and did it extraordinarily well.

1993 came and it was time to head back home. Sydney was the destination and we made our plans to set up a passenger ride business. Firstly in Camden southwest of Sydney but I hated the mostly flat, bare, brown, boring landscape and decided I needed a challenge and a more interesting place to fly over. So we moved the business to Parramatta and for 15 years flew over the suburbs, houses and parks of Sydney’s west.

With Sydney growing and all the open green spaces being sold off to developers in 2009 we moved it all up the road to The Hawkesbury a picturesque farming area 55km NW of Sydney CBD and that’s where we stayed until once again the expansion of Sydney suburbs began to take over the area.

A Xmas trip back to Tassie made us realise that where Sydney, like many large cities has become a rather unpleasant, difficult & very expensive and sometimes unfriendly place to live whilst the opposite has happened in Tasmania.

These days Tasmania is a place where you can do everything and anything. And it’s all within easy reach. No traffic jams or long distance travelling involved. You’ll find everything ‘just down the road’. If it’s some great food or drinks you’re after, there’s heaps of Cafes, Restaurants and Bars selling the fresh local produce. Farmers & Art Markets, Parks and Wildlife. Want some action then hop on your Mtb Bike and ride some of the best trails in the World or just walk them. It’s the place in Australia to get outside and do stuff. Stuff like hot air ballooning.

As far as a location to enjoy hot air ballooning I believe its the best place to fly in Australia. The countryside reminds me so much of our time flying in the United Kingdom. The rolling green countryside, largely farms, with hedge rows and Homesteads, beautiful towns and mountain views. It does not disappoint.

But best of all its a place where you will find the locals genuinely pleasant, friendly and helpful. All this makes my home town Launceston and it’s backyard a great place to be.

Pity it took so long for me to work that out.

Clare Allen