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Canberra ACT, Australia
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A ride well worth the early wake-up call  Canberra  Australia

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A ride well worth the early wake-up call

Some things in life are worth waking up for, and a hot-air balloon ride above Australia’s capital city of Canberra is one of them.

Canberra is a master-planned city that settled the issue of whether Sydney or Melbourne would be the country’s capital. Its history is relatively short, and its airspace - like its streets - are relatively quiet, making it a top spot for hot air ballooning in Australia.

Balloon Aloft came to pick me up around 5:30 a.m., less than 24 hours after I landed in Australia. I was stoked enough about the prospect of flying over Australian parliament in a hot air balloon that I didn’t mind it still being dark out.

As it turns out, a hot air balloon is one of the best ways to experience Canberra, and Canberra is so into hot air balloons it hosts a balloon festival every year.

Setting up the balloon my group flew in on the grounds of a local high school showed me the sense of community that exists in Canberra. Flying above Canberra helped me understand the planning that went into turning farmland in Australia’s capital. And the post-flight champagne toast in a classic English garden near Parliament reminded me of the just how much influence the UK has had on its former colony.

It’s an introduction to Australia — and ballooning —I won’t forget.