Hunter Valley Hot Air Ballooning with Kids

Oaks Cypress Lakes Hot Air Ballooning with Kids

If it flies, speeds, falls or rolls, then there is a good chance Raffles, my mini man of action, is going to want to try it, which is a little problematic given his mother is something of a coward.  When he leaps, jumps and slides his way into mischief he assures me “Danger” is his middle name, though I am inclined to tell him it’s actually “Please-stop-doing-that-right-now-or-you’ll-die” whilst flapping about in a panic. But he ignores me and does it anyway.   

But there is one thing that, until now, has remained unchecked on my little adventurer’s must do list, mostly due to his mother’s irrational fear of flying, and that is taking to the sky in a hot air balloon.  I mean, not only does this require actual flying. In the air. Without a seat belt. In a giant picnic basket. With strangers. It requires a 5am start, without the aid of caffeine.

Regardless, I find myself in a huge Hunter Valley paddock at the crack of dawn, swallowing a teaspoon of cement instead of a nice glass of Hunter wine.  Raffles and I watch on as industrial fans and fierce flames inflate our vessel, the brand spanking new Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort Hot Air Balloon, operated in partnership with the experts at Balloon Aloft, launched to celebrate the resort’s 25th anniversary.

Oaks Cypress Lakes Hot Air Ballooning with Kids

Before I know it, the beautiful blue Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort Balloon is fully inflated and I am clambering inelegantly into the picnic basket (though they like to call it a gondola) and waving goodbye to my husband and Sugarpuff (who has run off with her lovely new friends, Emmie from Mumpack Travel and Tiah from A Little at Large, and could care less that her mother is flying away to her inevitable death).

Hunter Valley Hot Air Ballooning with Kids

“We’re doing it. We’re really doing it” shouts Raffles who hugs me with excitement as the ground slowly retreats into the distance and we head several thousand metres up into the atmosphere. His joy is so infectious and our ascent to a higher altitude so surprisingly gentle that it takes just seconds for me to swing from terrified to euphoric. Once more my boy’s fearlessness is pushing me to be braver and bolder than I’ve ever been.

Oaks Cypress Lakes Hot Air Balloon. Photo by Balloon Aloft

It is the smoothest ride of my life. We are suspended in air, almost like we are on a floating balcony, the only sound the reassuring roar of the propane burners intermittently shooting flames into the balloon to keep us afloat. And I am no longer even a tiny bit afraid.

Hunter Valley Hot Air Ballooning with Kids

Together, my beautiful boy and I soak up the magical sunrise panoramas of the Hunter Valley from above, the extraordinary green landscape of vineyards and wilderness areas below randomly illuminated with splashes of sunlight.  An hour passes in what seems like a moment and all too soon it is time to land.

Hunter Cypress Lakes Hot Air Balloon. Photo by Narelle Bouveng

One must use the winds to steer a balloon, so one’s final destination is never really known. A ground crew follow from below and the pilot just seeks a suitable piece of land that looks safe for landing and hopes the land owners don’t mind.

 Hot Air Ballooning in the Hunter with Oaks Cypress Lakes

This morning it turns out to be a huge paddock inhabited by hundreds of kangaroos who skitter off as the air vents on top of the balloon are opened to release the hot air and we descend to earth with a gentle thud.

Hunter Valley Hot Air Ballooning with Kids

There’s a few minutes wait until we get the all clear, and we hop out of the balloon in the same ungainly and inelegant fashion that we hopped in, the promise of a glass of waiting champagne and a hot breakfast adding a little energy to our efforts.

But it is not all serenity and champagne just yet. There’s still work to do. We are all required to put our backs into pushing the air out of the balloon and rolling it up to fit back in its trailer. As we get down on our knees to do our bit Raffles also manages to knock the wind out of me, when he announces with utter conviction that he’ll be asking Santa for his own hot air balloon for Christmas.

Yeah son, about that…

Disclosure: Raffles and I flew as guests of Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort but all opinions, abject terror and eventual euphoria are our own.


20 Comments on Hunter Valley Hot Air Ballooning with Kids

  1. Zerin Hassan
    November 13, 2017 at 10:41 am (6 years ago)

    I have always wanted to do this x

      November 13, 2017 at 11:38 am (6 years ago)

      You definitely should. It is an incredible experience.

      November 13, 2017 at 11:38 am (6 years ago)

      What a lovely thing for him to do!

  2. Emma
    November 13, 2017 at 11:34 am (6 years ago)

    This looks like an amazing experience. I know that I’d never get my boyfriend on it unless I sedated him into unconsciousness. He is afraid of heights and flying so I think I’d have to go by myself haha.

    Emma | Rosy Disposition

      November 13, 2017 at 11:37 am (6 years ago)

      Hehe. That was what I was like before, but seriously it was so amazing I would happily do it again and again.

  3. stuntman
    November 13, 2017 at 12:03 pm (6 years ago)

    Riding the wind. Looks amazing.

  4. Amy
    November 13, 2017 at 2:16 pm (6 years ago)

    This looks like so much fun!

  5. Preet
    November 13, 2017 at 3:00 pm (6 years ago)

    I have never been on the hot air balloon, it is on my wish list. It looks so amazing, love your pictures.

  6. Andreya
    November 13, 2017 at 3:12 pm (6 years ago)

    It’s really an awesome experience. I think you had a great time 🙂

  7. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    November 13, 2017 at 4:14 pm (6 years ago)

    I love hot air balloons! On our flight (also in the Hunter Valley but a different company) there were a few adults that were really scared-mostly guys!

  8. Maddy
    November 13, 2017 at 4:14 pm (6 years ago)

    This looks like so much fun hun.. I always wanted to do it..

  9. Laura
    November 13, 2017 at 7:18 pm (6 years ago)

    This looks like the most amazing experience! Hot Air ballooning is one of my top bucket list things!!

    Laura ||

  10. Chantelle
    November 13, 2017 at 9:16 pm (6 years ago)

    I love the idea of this but i’m a little petrified of heights haha

  11. Tasha
    November 13, 2017 at 11:15 pm (6 years ago)

    Wow what an incredible experience! I’ve never been for a hot air balloon ride before – definitely a bucket list item!

    Tasha // shiwashiful.

  12. Chickfreak
    November 14, 2017 at 1:15 am (6 years ago)

    OMG I always wanted to try something like that. It looks you had such a great time 🙂

  13. Felicia
    November 14, 2017 at 1:14 pm (6 years ago)

    Oh man, super jealous! I’ve always wanted to do this.

  14. Yasmine
    January 25, 2018 at 6:48 am (6 years ago)

    Looked like so much fun! And what a great group of Insta travel families


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Hey, I’m Aleney! A mum, award-winning travel writer, magazine editor and gallivanting glutton. He’s Raff, the “boy” in boyeatsworld, and a fearless foodie, adventurer and eco-warrior. Along with his all-singing, all-dancing, all-adventurous sister, Sugarpuff, we’re exploring the world’s colour, culture and cuisine on a food safari for the junior set.

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