Canberrans are no strangers to getting up early to watch a hot air balloon inflate, even after the weather starts to turn in March.
But it will still be high summer on February 6 when Skywhalepapa, companion to our legendary skyborne beast Skywhale, launches into the Canberra skies for the first time.
The new addition to the National Gallery of Australia's collection is 25 metres tall, 23 metres wide and 32 metres long, and weighs in at a mighty 450 kilograms - about a third larger than Skywhale.
And that is without adding the traditional basket.
Both balloons are packed into compact crates when not flying, to protect the delicate, high-tech materials from the elements.
Although Skywhale is just seven years old, a companion has felt like a long time coming.
The soaring, be-breasted whale has always seemed solitary to say the least, and not only because she is one of a kind.
Commissioned to mark Canberra's 100th birthday in 2013, the creation by award-winning Canberra-educated artist Patricia Piccinini has since flown at festivals all over the world, and has become an unforgettable icon.
But, when the National Gallery of Australia acquired Skywhale for the national collection in 2019, director Nick Mitzevich decided she needed a companion, and approached Piccinini to create another surreal hot-air balloon.
The commission is part of the gallery's Know My Name initiative, a year-long project highlighting Australian women artists.
Introducing plans for the commission in 2019, Piccinini said she had often been asked whether Skywhale had babies.
She said the new addition to the family would be "powerful, masculine figure, but also a caring one".
"He'll be carrying a litter of babies, so it's about shared parenting and engaged fatherhood," she said.
The work has taken more than a year to take shape; Piccinini's concept was made a reality by Cameron Balloons, a company based in the UK city of Bristol, which manufactures many of the world's most complex balloons.
Manufacturing halted and the work was stranded in England for several months as COVID set in, but the balloon arrived last year ready for a test flight at an undisclosed location outside Canberra just before Christmas.
Skywhalepapa - carrying several babies - will take his maiden flight alongside Skywhale to form a family unit - although just what "kind" of family is open to interpretation.
Piccinini has also written a children's book about the genesis of her idea, and will be speaking about her work in the lead-up to the launch.
The launch event, entitled Every Heart Sings, will be a work of art in itself, with a live performance by Canberra musician Jess Green of a song created especially for Skywhalepapa, accompanied by the Luminescence Children's Choir.
Unlike the last time we were lucky enough to see Skywhale inflate - last March during Canberra's balloon festival - numbers will be strictly limited due to COVID, and everyone watching will have to be seated.
But while only some will be able to watch the pair inflate and rise up close, there will be plenty of choice vantage points around central Canberra to watch them take to the skies where they belong.
Skywhales: Every Heart Sings launches at 5.30am on Saturday February 6, with more performances scheduled on March 8 and April 3.
- Bookings are open from 10am on Friday January 22, at knowmyname.nga.gov.au/events/skywhales-every-heart-sings-flight1/