Over the Gold Coast Hinterland in a Hot Air Balloon

posted in: Australia, Nature, Queensland, Tips | 84

With the recent Commonwealth games being held in the Gold Coast City, Australia, a lot of you might have got glimpses of their beautiful beaches & coastline. They are no doubt, absolutely enthralling and I will be sharing a few of my adventures along the same. However, what completely took me by surprise, was the Gold Coast Hinterland – a little away from the coast, tucked amidst green mountains. I can’t say that I was able to see it all, but I got a good Bird’s eye view as I floated over it, in a Hot Air Balloon. And that, my friends, is what I will start this Gold Coast series with.

Gold Coast Hinterland on a Hot Air Balloon
Gold Coast Hinterland on a Hot Air Balloon

I always wanted to float in a Hot Air Balloon. Not the small journeys that you get in almost every country – but over a span of land. Most of us have this as a childhood fantasy, especially after seeing those cartoons of flying along with the birds and possibly, one of them pecking in. 😉 Well minus the last part, every bit of the other fantasy came true. (not that I wanted the bird to peck it 😉). What made the adventure even more enthralling were the sights of the Hinterland – unbelievable, magical and totally out of the world! Stay with me as I shall share it all and I bet at the end of it, you will agree that Hot Air Balloon Ride is the thing to do in Gold Coast.

About the Gold Coast Hinterland

Over the Vineyards of the Queensland Hinterland on a Gold Coast Hot Air Balloon
Over the Vineyards of the Queensland Hinterland on a Gold Coast Hot Air Balloon

The Dictionary meaning of Hinterland will pretty much tell you that this is the land beyond the coast of a place. The Gold Coast Hinterland was a surprise for me. Contrasting the lovely beaches of the city, were the green mountains and plateaus – filled with rainforests, vineyards and tons of rivers and waterfalls. The area also comprises of various national parks like the Springbrook national park and the Lamington National park – some of which are a part of the UNESCO Sites. From a traveler’s perspective, this place is amazing for various activities – starting with photography to wine tasting to hiking and more.

Queensland Hinterland on a Hot Air Balloon
Queensland Hinterland on a Hot Air Balloon

Time was short and I could visit only a few of the places that the Hinterland offered. However, I did get a good glimpse of the gems of this Hinterland – thanks to the Hot Air Balloon Ride.

Wake up call for the Hot Air Balloon

See you in the lobby at 4 am. Remember to bundle up” Parting words of the gang the night before. With that as the target, I set my alarm for 3:15 am and quickly retired for the day. Excited as I was, it just took the first sound of the alarm to have me up and eager to go. Bundled up in 3 layers at 4 am sharp, all of us boarded our Hot Air Transfer at QT Hotel in Gold Coast. The skipper in charge picked up several others along the way and soon, introduced us to the concept of Hot Air Ballooning. Here are some things that though obvious, were explained by him –

  • Hot Air Ballooning was all about drifting with the winds. Hence, depending on the wind direction, our launch site for the day was to be fixed. The skipper was awaiting the call from his launch team on the place for the day.
  • A safe sport, he assured us, it just required us to follow some procedures – all explained in the video that he played along the way.
  • At the time of landing, all we had to do is hold the handles and kneel against the basket.
  • The launch sites and landing would be on private properties and specific permissions were taken for the same. Hence, it was imperative that we, during our experience, respected that and avoided any further inconvenience to the kind owners.
It is all about going with the Wind on a Hot Air Balloon
It is all about going with the Wind on a Hot Air Balloon

With that and a smile, he turned on the video and begun driving towards the Gold Coast Hinterland. Somewhere along the way, he got a call from his team on the launch site for the day and soon, we were there.

At the Launch Site of the Hot Air Balloon

I don’t know if it was the bright glow of the fire inflating the Hot Air Balloon or the actual crack of dawn – but the launch site looked eerie with its midnight blue backdrop and just that tinge of light. Every bleary eye on the bus cleared at the sight of the two baskets – each one as tall as a 10 storied building. Our skipper separated us into two groups and one by one, we hopped onto the basket as instructed.

Launch Site of the Gold Coast Hot Air Balloon
Launch Site of the Gold Coast Hot Air Balloon

Our Pilot introduced himself with a few jokes on how this was his first time – albeit for that day and made us practice our landing positions a few times. He said that at the most there would be a few bumps and maybe the basket would overturn to one side, but there was nothing to worry as that was all normal. 😉

Up, Up and Away in the Hot Air Balloon

Our Pilot controlling our ascent on the Hot Air Balloon
Our Pilot controlling our ascent on the Hot Air Balloon

It was nice and pleasant in the basket for the fire kept warming us up. Our pilot kept controlling the fire and the flow of hot air to get the Hot Air Balloon up and slowly and steadily we rose. It honestly, did not even feel as if we were up there for the rise was just so smooth. The only thing that made us realize that we were rising was how tiny everything suddenly looked from up there. Dawn was at its edge and in that partial light, though dark, the green pastures, and the rivers just looked mystifying.

At the crack of Dawn - The Gold Coast Hinterland from the Hot Air Balloon
At the crack of Dawn – The Gold Coast Hinterland from the Hot Air Balloon

However, as we rose further on and the light broke through, there was a splash of colors around us. The Queensland Hinterland shone to welcome us to a different side of Gold Coast City.

Can you spot me in this Hot Air Balloon?
Can you spot me in this Hot Air Balloon?

Gold Coast Hinterland on a Hot Air Balloon

Sunrise over the Queensland Hinterland_Hot Air Balloon
Sunrise over the Queensland Hinterland_Hot Air Balloon

What we witnessed from up there was just unbelievable. The Golden glow of sun reflected on the Misty Morning of the Hinterland, turning all that it touched to Gold. The dark shadows of the trees added the highlights to this landscape. The entire low cloudy mist cover felt as it were an ornate curtain drawn over the beauty below it.

The Low Cloud cover of the Gold Coast Hinterland as seen from the Hot Air Balloon
The Low Cloud cover of the Gold Coast Hinterland as seen from the Hot Air Balloon

Over the parts where this curtain was drawn partially, you could well spot the blue lakes and rivers that had the cloud cover rising from it as if it were smoke. The scenes were just so surreal.

Horses galloping around the Hinterland
Horses galloping around the Hinterland

Somewhere along those green and golden pastures, we saw kangaroos hopping. Horses and Cattle seemed to have started their day by meandering down their homes. All this might seem normal but when you watch from up there in the sky, it is just ethereal. I suppose this is how God looks down on us mortal beings.

Landscapes of Gold Coast Hinterland
Landscapes of Gold Coast Hinterland
Cloud Covered Landscapes of Gold Coast
Cloud Covered Landscapes of Gold Coast

Touch Down or Tumble Down

4000 ft above the ground in a Hot Air Balloon
4000 ft above the ground in a Hot Air Balloon

It was almost an hour since we were high up over those Hinterlands – at almost 4000 feet. Our launch site was no longer visible and the landscapes had changed several times over. Our Pilot finally announced that we had to take our positions for landing. The Hot Air Balloon had slowly descended and it was time for that tumble down. Except that there was none.

Gold Coast Hinterland on descent of Hot Air Balloon
Gold Coast Hinterland on descent of Hot Air Balloon

Our Pilot made that landing so soft and precise that one bump and we were safely back on the ground – upright! The balloon slowly deflated and fell over to a side and one by one, we climbed out of the basket.

Folding the Hot Air Balloon after our descent
Folding the Hot Air Balloon after our descent

It was time for the balloon folding game where all of us helped deflate and squeeze the balloon onto a straight line so that the Pilot and the rest of the staff could fold it away. Once done, we all got onto the Balloon trailer and made our way back to our bus that had followed us all the way on the ground.

The Hot Air Balloon Trailer
The Hot Air Balloon Trailer

Breakfast at Canungra Vineyards

Now that the adrenaline high had subsided, the rumble of the tummy became even more pronounced. Luckily, we reached the O’Reilly vineyards at Canungra in half an hour for some Bubbly breakfast. What – is that a spelling error? Bubbly Breakfast?

Our breakfast place at O'Reilly Vineyards in Canungra
Our breakfast place at O’Reilly Vineyards in Canungra

Well, as the story goes, the first Hot Air Balloon flight by the Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier landed them in Vineyards and they celebrated their flight with a bottle of Champagne. Since then, it is a tradition that every successful Hot Air Balloon Flight is celebrated with a glass of Champagne. And yes, that is what we were greeted with when we entered the Vineyards. That my friends is what is called the Bubbly Breakfast!

Bubbly Breakfast on the O'Reilly Vineyard, Canungra, Gold Coast
Bubbly Breakfast on the O’Reilly Vineyard, Canungra, Gold Coast

Never in my life I had started the day with Champagne but then, never had I ever started the day with such amazing sights. Given that, I gave in to the Bubbly and celebrated the start of this day. Of course, I did have the other yummy part of the huge breakfast spread as well.

Alpaca at O'Reilly Vineyards
Alpaca at O’Reilly Vineyards

With food tucked in, I explored the rest of the vineyard to find a cute dog who insisted on belly rubs by rolling on my feet, some cute but strange sounding Alpacas (the first that I had ever seen) and tons of colorful birds. The stream side had a Platypus living in it but well, I could not spot it. Another hour slid by and we regretfully had to bundle back in to return to Gold Coast City.

Streamside at O'Reilly Vineyards in Canungra
Streamside at O’Reilly Vineyards in Canungra

It has been at least two weeks since I did this but I just cannot get over the beauty of what I saw. The Gold Coast Hinterland was just perfect and yes, the Hot Air Balloon was the perfect vehicle to discover it in a short time. Be it the landscapes that you are treated to or the ride itself – an experience on the Hot Air Balloon is definitely one of the key things to do when in Gold Coast, Australia.

Getting here

  • Gold Coast city is well connected to the rest of the World by Air. There are plenty of flights like Flyscoot that get you directly to Gold Coast from key cities like Singapore and Bangalore.
  • Gold Coast city is an hour’s drive from Brisbane in Australia.

Travel Tips

  • I highly recommend Hot Air for this Hot Air Ballooning experience in Gold Coast. The company is well reputed and has done numerous flights over Queensland.
  • Hot Air charges are as indicated on their website. This includes a breakfast at the O’Reilly vineyards. It also, takes care of your transfer from the hotel in Gold Coast City to the launch site and back.
  • Dress in layers when heading for the Hot Air Balloon experience as it is pretty cold in the morning. Once you are in the Hot Air Balloon, you might feel warmer owing to the fire.
  • As long as you listen to the instructions of your skipper and pilot, this is a fairly safe sport. It is great for kids and adults of all ages
  • You are likely to be in the air for at least 30 minutes. Hence, you need to be prepared for the same.
  • Cameras and phones are allowed on the Hot Air Balloon. However, keep them strapped to yourself as an extra precaution.
  • Hot Air takes a photo or two of you when you are on it. You can get those at a minimal cost through their website. A small certificate is given to you at the end of the flight along with a passcode to help you access those pictures.
  • The breakfast spread at O’Reilly has plenty of Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian options. If you have any other special dietary requirements, you need to let Hot Air know in advance.

P.S: I was invited by Queensland Tourism in collaboration with Flyscoot Airlines to experience Gold Coast City. 


Share the Thrill of Travel

84 Responses

  1. Claire

    Stunning photos! I have always wanted to go for a ride on a hot air balloon and your post has just inspired me to do so! Thanks for sharing this lovely post!

    • Ami

      Thank you Claire. This ride was truly breathtaking and I hope you get one too.

  2. Jen

    I can’t believe I haven’t heard of this place before. It looks magical and to see it on a hot air balloon is even better! Your photos are really breathtaking. I am now adding this to my bucketlist!

    • Ami

      Thanks Jen. This place is quite a paradise and now that you have heard of it, you must get down to visiting it. Trust me, you will love it.

  3. Inge

    Gasp! Those scenery views are stunning! Wow! I love your photography and the idea of floating through the sky in a giant basket with a massive balloon… Well yes, please! Loved watching your pictures and dream away…

  4. Sandy N Vyjay

    The hot air balloon flight over the gold coast sounds magical. This one is definitely special and out of the ordinary. Never knew about the concept of Bubbly Breakfast though. The vineyard looks so beautiful and the Alpacas look cute and very intellectual for some reason. A great morning experience down under.

    • Ami

      Totally amazing morning experience and yes, that bubby breakfast took me by surprise.

  5. Jennifer

    My husband and I were married in a hot air balloon, so we try to balloon around the world. With those gorgeous views of the Gold Coast hinterland, I think we need to add hot air ballooning here to our bucket list. Those alpacas are super cute too!

    • Ami

      Wow, now that is a dreamy wedding. It is my turn to envy you. Hope you get to spend your anniv on this one. 😉

  6. Carol Colborn

    Awesome views of the Hinterland from up there! I have long waited to do hot air ballooning but have not been able to choose a spot…Albuquerque, Cappadocia, now this! But 4 am? Why so early?

    • Ami

      Catching the sunrise is when you enjoy the rise the most. Also, you need to be in flat lands for your launch and land, which typically is away from the city. But trust me, that early is so worth it!

  7. Ufuoma

    WOW! These photos are absolutely gorgeous. I was just talking to my friend the other day about how I wouldn’t mind doing a hot balloon ride and this will be so perfect to do. Looks like a solid spot to do this and the views are marvellous. Thank you for sharing!

    • Ami

      Trust me, you will love the landscapes below. I hope you get to Gold Coast soon for this. Thanks for the lovely comment.

  8. Jenn

    I’ve never been on a hot air balloon ride before but your post makes me want to give it a try and to do it in Hinterland! Your photos are gorgeous and the landscape looks so stunning, I can’t imagine what it must be like to actually see it up there in person.

    • Ami

      It is just surreal when you look down at that beauty. I loved every moment up there. Hope you can visit there and enjoy it for yourself. Thanks for stopping by

  9. Diana

    What a perfect day. I’ve been reading a bunch about the Gold Coast but this is the first post I’ve read from a hot air balloon perspective. I can’t believe you had to wake up at 3:15am to go, but it definitely sounds and looks like it was totally worth it. And what a perfect way to end your hot air balloon experience with a trip to the vineyard – those alpacas are so adorable!

    • Ami

      Trust me, you don’t feel the stress of the early morning when you experience this. In fact, I bet you will not sleep when you get back either for you will be busy reminiscing what you saw. Thanks for stopping by.

  10. Madhu

    Wow hot air balloon experience looks magical and the view is just amazing.i wish i could get to experience the same

    • Ami

      Thanks Teresa. The landscapes were just so amazing that getting the pics was easy 😀

  11. Katherine

    This whole post is breathtaking! I used to live in a part of Sydney that hot air balloons would drift over on weekends and it was always lovely to look up and see the colourful balloons up in the sky. I never actually got to ride in one though. Now I really wish that I had.

    • Ami

      Aww…I suppose you will need to get back and I highly recommend Gold Coast for this. The landscapes in the Hinterland will be well worth your return trip.

  12. Anisa

    I have always wanted to go on a hot air balloon. Queensland looks like an amazing place to do it. I pinned for future reference.

    • Ami

      Indeed, Queensland, especially Gold Coast will be worth the ride. I hope you visit it soon. Thanks for the pin.

  13. Mansoureh

    As you said taking a hot balloon is a dream and I think I started dreaming about it same as you when I was a child. I am sure I would love to wake up early or even don’t sleep for the experience. My fantasy is taking a hot balloon not with a group just me and my husband or even just me hahaha

    • Ami

      Ha ha…that would be nice indeed…though quite expensive too. Hope you get to live your fantasy. Thanks for stopping by with this lovely comment.

  14. Danila Caputo

    You’re right, probably everyone has this childhood fantasy, me included! Yet I’m so scared of heights that I could never bring myself to transform it into something real 🙁

    • Ami

      Trust me, this one is so safe and nice that you will enjoy it. Go for it Danila. It is a lovely experience.

  15. Cat

    That is such a fun activity. We haven’t gotten the chance to do this yet, but it has been on our bucket list forever. Gold Coast City is a wonderful place to experience this with the beautiful scenery!

    • Ami

      Oh yes, Gold Coast City definitely is a great place to try this one out. Hope you get to it sooner. Thanks for stopping by

    • Ami

      Ooh lucky you for having been there when the action was on. Though even when I went, things were just awesome. Thanks for stopping by

  16. Nicola

    What a perfect place to see in a hot air balloon! We are heading to Australia next year and I’m definitely going to make note of this! Glad to hear you had a master pilot who made that landing smooth for you. In my one experience of hot air ballooning we were dragged across a field and landed on our backs at the end!! Although the rest of the ride was very peaceful.

    • Ami

      They did warn us about the rough landing but this guy was just too smooth. And since you are off to Australia, make sure you plan Gold Coast. Trust me, it is so so worth it.

  17. Abhinav Singh

    I have already heard so many things about the Gold Coast. After reading your blog, I know what I had missed during my Australia trip. Your pictures are amazing. Especially, the shots you clicked from the balloon while it was in the air, put things to perspective. And yes, I did spot you in the balloon. I am sure you will not forget this experience in a long time.

    • Ami

      Thanks Abhinav. I cannot stop Gushing about Gold Coast in general and this experience,….well as you see, it is something else. Hope you get to return there and see it for yourself. Thanks for the lovely comment.

  18. Parnashree Devi

    The photos are enough to invite anyone to experience the hot air balloon ride in Gold coast Australia. The landscapes from the up looks dreamy. I am sure that you had the time of your life. Its on my bucket list. You have given useful tips.

    • Ami

      Thanks Parnashree. I have the most amazing experience indeed. I hope that I can do it again.

  19. amit

    ahh I actually missed out on taking a hot-air balloon ride while I was in the gold coast, I have to agree Hinterland looks amazing from above and like you mentioned not something you would associate with the gold coast. I can imagine and see from your photos watching day break from above must have been amazing – I saw so many sunrises in Sydney during my 2 years there but this feels like it was so much more special 😀 – I know what I’ll be doing when I eventually get back to Aus

    • Ami

      I am sure you are going to love it in Gold Coast. And I do hope you get there soon. There is so much to see here in Gold Coast. Thanks for stopping by. Cheers

  20. Paula

    I have never tried hot air ballooning but I’m sure it is an unforgettable experience. To be honest, I am a little scared of it since there has been few accidents where I live with the balloons. However, I’m sure the views are amazing and all the pictures look beautiful. I especially want to see the Golden Coast someday.

    • Ami

      The ballooning in Gold Coast does seem quite well planned and is said to be quite safe. They do seem to have thought of everything. I guess, you should try it out and see if you like it. Especially for the views 😀 Thanks for stopping by

  21. YUKTI Agrawal

    You have taken stunning photos of countryside near Gold Coast from Hot Air Balloon. Also those Alpacas look super cute and loved those horses galloping in green fields. Also lunch at Canugra Vineyards looks perfect with beautiful natural surroundings all around.

    • Ami

      The breakfast at Canungra was indeed a celebration – not just of the hot air balloon but for the stunning landscapes around it. The Alpacas were quite funny but cute and I would have loved to spend some more time here. Definitely a fine morning. Thanks for stopping by, Yukti.

  22. Ha

    I’ve always dreamed to get on a hot air balloon. The view from it looks really lovely, especially the sunrise. Gold Coast is such a nice place with beautiful nature.

    • Ami

      It is quite an experience. The Sunrise never looked any better than from up there. Thanks for stopping by

  23. Lois Alter Mark

    What gorgeous views from there! We took a hot air balloon once and I was surprised to find it not scary. It was actually very peaceful up there! Your photos are beautiful!

    • Ami

      I agree, it is quite peaceful there. Not scary at all. And the landscape…it is just spectacular. Glad that you too have experienced it. Thanks for stopping by

  24. Swati

    Stunning pics especially the second one. Such gorgeous view and the morning mist adds the magic. Hot air balloon is so high on my list, would love to do someday for sure. It’s nice that you guys helped in folding the balloon and had such a fun time.

    • Ami

      Hot Air Ballooning was fun all the way. I absolutely loved every moment of it. Glad I could do it. Hope you can too. Thanks for stopping by Swati

  25. Judy

    This is such a lovely post with stunning photos. I am sure you must have had a brilliant up there. The experience looks magical to me.

    • Ami

      No better word than magical. It was unbelievable. Thanks a ton for stopping by

  26. Kristina

    Hot air balloons have always sort of terrified me, haha. But this sounds like such an exciting adventure! What views you had!

    • Ami

      Believe me, it is the least bit scary. But every bit enthralling. You should give it a shot.

  27. Claire

    Wow 4am is a hardcore early start, but it was totally worth it for those views! The bright balloon contrasting with the misty fields is absolutely stunning.

    • Ami

      Totally worth the start. No better time than that for these views. Thanks Claire for stopping by

  28. Jenn and Ed Coleman

    This mists over the hinterland are simply sublime. Even that sentence is rather enticing. I have always loved Jules Vernes and Around the World in 80 Days. The idea of actually travelling somewhere in a hot air balloon is so enticing. Even just an early morning jaunt for views like this is well worth waking up early and dressing warm for.

    • Ami

      Believe me, you sleep will just vanish for not that moment, but the entire day. It is one of the most amazing experiences you can lose sleep over.

  29. Katchutravels

    Great to see those sun shots from the top. I am really fascinated by the possibilities of aerial sunrise patterns after seeing your images. Waking up at 3 am in Australia is basically the time we go back to sleep in India. Was it tough adjusting the body clock?

    Nice set of animals during your breakfast. Do they roam freely where you have breakfast?

    • Ami

      Thanks a bunch Karthik. Surprisingly, my body clock adjusted well to the Australian timings. It wasn’t too hard to work on these timings. As far as the animals go, they were around in the Vineyard, in a paddock, making the most curious sounds. One could not just ignore them 😉

  30. Bhusha

    Hot air balloon is such a fascinating thing! I’ve never been on one yet. Very true, indeed a childhood fantasy. Hope it would turn reality soon.
    Seeing sunrise from a simple aircraft itself is interesting. I can imagine how awesome this found feel, esp with the wind touching your face and sun’s rays warming you up!
    Good to know that you touch-down was also smooth!

    • Ami

      It does not feel very scary or intimidating when you float over the land. It is just magical. And I am glad I lived the fantasy. Hope you do too. Thanks for stopping by

  31. Amrita Sen

    To fly like a bird was my childhood fantasy too! And now riding a hot air balloon is something that I want to do. The pictures are so beautiful and shows how amazing the place is. It must have been a great experience on the hot air balloon!