ACT News

Balloons soar as Canberrans enjoy long weekend

The sleep ins were given a miss for many curious Canberrans on Saturday as crowds gathered to watch this year's group of graceful balloons expand and take to the sky before 7am.

A whale, an educated owl and the air force fighter jet helmet were standouts, as was the Up balloon, replicating the look of the Disney/Pixar cartoon where a home was lifted by a cluster of 1000 helium balloons.

Crowds gathered on the lawns of Old Parliament House to watch the balloons inflate on Saturday morning.
Crowds gathered on the lawns of Old Parliament House to watch the balloons inflate on Saturday morning. Photo: Jay Cronan

There were more than more than 40 hot air balloons taking part in the 31st Canberra Balloon Spectacular, with the early risers treated to the best of the day's weather, Pialligo-based Balloon Aloft pilot Ewan Roberts said.

"It was absolutely beautiful, to float over the Arboretum and their plantings, everyone involved thought it was amazing," he said. 

"We could really appreciate the landscaping of the lake and the forest, and the clear blue skies. 

"I've flown balloons in India, Europe, Japan, the Middle East, and people often ask where the best place to fly is and I generally say Canberra."


In addition to the lawns in front of Old Parliament House, due to wind conditions other launch sites were used. 

Mr Roberts, 63, lifted off from the Rock Garden at Yarramundi to the east of the Arboretum. 

On Sunday it will be the cutest of pigs which takes centre stage, with the Australian film classic Babe to be shown at Stage 88 at Commonwealth Park with a unique twist – the Canberra Symphony Orchestra will play its memorable soundtrack. 

The 1995 film's original composer, Nigel Westlake, will lead the orchestra in the live Symphony in the Park experience. 

"The movie soundtrack has been remixed to remove all the music and the newly orchestrated score is performed live in synchronisation with the entire film," Mr Westlake said. 

The free film starts at 7.30pm, with an early arrival recommended to secure a spot.

The Canberra Balloon Spectacular continues until March 20, with inflation usually commencing at 6.15am and the majority of the balloons launched prior to 7am each morning.