ACT News

Canberra's controversial Skywhale balloon up for sale

The national capital's most famous aerial export is on the market as the joint owners look to sell their ballooning business after nearly 20 years.

Global Ballooning co-owner Sarah Clegg said she was disappointed the company was for sale, but its prominent asset was a valuable attraction for a potential buyer.

Skywhale over Lake Burley Griffin for the Canberra Balloon Spectacular last year.
Skywhale over Lake Burley Griffin for the Canberra Balloon Spectacular last year. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

"The Skywhale is worth an extraordinary amount – it's a free ride around the world for any balloonist," she said.

There's only one catch: "You need to buy the whole company to get it."

But the price, for now, is a mystery – Ms Clegg would not comment on what the business, founded in 1996 and now flying 17 balloons, might sell for.

One of two owners of the Victorian-based company, Ms Clegg said it was a shame the balloon – which has drawn worldwide attention to Canberra since its unveiling in 2013 – had been left out of this year's Balloon Spectacular.


"I was very disappointed that Skywhale was not at the festival, given the other co-owner, Kiff Saunders, was at the festival with another balloon, the Moomba balloon," she said.

"[She] is a beautiful creature – it's unfortunate that the ACT taxpayer hasn't seen more of the Skywhale."  

Last week Events ACT confirmed the Skywhale had been excluded from the annual festival, with a spokeswoman saying Global had applied in early February, which was too late to be considered.

The multi-breasted whale's creator, Patricia Piccinini, said on Monday the balloon had 400 hours of life and only flown for about 60, after the Chief Minister Andrew Barr incorrectly reported an early retirement. Skywhale cost taxpayers about $300,000, which included planned appearances in Canberra. 

Ms Clegg said it was Mr Saunders, an Australian Ballooning Federation hall of famer, who initiated the company's sale.