ACT News

Thousands watch hot-air balloons and eat 160kg of bacon on Canberra Day

It seems not everyone celebrated Canberra Day by sleeping in or trekking to the coast for a last-gasp swim in the sun.

Thousands of ACT residents watched 30 hot air balloons inflate on the lawns of Old Parliament House on Monday morning, the third day of the festival.

The Yoda balloon, part of the Canberra Balloon Spectacular.
The Yoda balloon, part of the Canberra Balloon Spectacular. Photo: Jay Cronan

The success of the festival, which is in its 29th year, was proved by the sheer volume of hot breakfast sold by the Belconnen Lions Club in the Parliamentary Zone.

"We've had a pretty busy three days so far and have gone through 130 kilograms of sausages, 160kg of bacon, 340 dozen eggs, 180kg of baked beans, and 240 loaves of bread," said organiser Gary Jones.  

"The profits go back to the Lions and find their way back to the community through charities or programs."

Last year, the hot breakfast raised more than $30,000 for the Canberra community.


Mr Jones, who has co-ordinated the Belconnen Lion Club's balloon festival breakfast for more than 20 years, said the event had changed over decades despite its enduring popularity.

"I think we don't have as many shapes as we used to in the old days but maybe that's just a cost factor – there are still a lot of interesting shapes," he said.

"But clearly the government has stuck by this event as something that can showcase the city."

This year's festival features a Master Yoda hot-air balloon, following a floating Darth Vader in 2013.  

Ewan Roberts, managing director of Balloon Aloft, said the festival had been blessed by perfect weather and Canberrans could expect to see balloons each morning this week.

"We've had a perfect start to the festival with three wonderful days and I can't remember more people coming down in the mornings," he said.

"We managed to fly next to Yoda on the first morning and he was looking at us for the whole flight – which was interesting."

Mr Roberts said the Yoda balloon and its Angry Birds counterpart were easy fly but not designed to take passengers.

"They have a lot more funny little compartments so you've just got to make sure you've got enough hot air in them," he said.

Clear conditions are sure to please pilots this week, with temperatures on Wednesday and Thursday tipped to pass 30 degrees with clear skies.

"Private pilots are having an absolute ball so far as Canberra has the perfect balance of national icons, the lake, parks, and of course we can launch from right in the middle of the city," Mr Roberts said.

But Canberra's celebrated hot-air balloon, the Skywhale, will be absent from this year's festival.

Events ACT, which runs the festival, confirmed the breasted beast had been turned away, but said the owners applied too late. 

"Unfortunately at this time the selection process was complete and the budget was already allocated," a spokeswoman said.