The children of my friend Lesley organised for us to have a balloon flight over the Barossa for Lesley's birthday. It was a mystery tour for Lesley and she had no idea why I got her up at 4.30 a.m. and drove her to the Barossa before dawn. How exciting when she saw the van with Balloon Adventures on it. Ballooning was something both of us had always wanted to do.
Due to the wind direction we drove to a paddock near Kapunda to fly back to the Barossa. We watched while the balloon was filled with hot air and then we negotiated that basket. Sixteen of us plus the pilot scrambled in, four in each section. We were stacked in like knives and forks in a cutlery drainer, but all so excited. I'm not good at the top of a ladder but I was fine in the balloon. It was like flying with the birds. Dogs howled though due to the growling of the gas fire.
Kapunda looked great from the air as did St Michael's Church at Marananga near Seppeltsfield, and all the vineyards. We'd passed Tanunda after an hour and the pilot looked for a suitable paddock to land in. I didn't realise how fast we were going until I saw the ground rush up to meet us. There was a wind at ground level and the force of the balloon coming down pulled the basket over backwards. So there we were, quite unharmed but lying vertical. It was a hoot; better than the bucking horses at the show.
We were given a champagne breakfast after we helped squeeze the air out of that balloon.
One of my favourite books years ago was The Cat who wanted to go Home by Jill Tomlinson. It's about a French cat called Suzy who gets into a balloon basket by mistake and is carried across the channel.
This is Kapunda from the balloon. You can just see the white wheat silos.