|The 150th anniversary of the first successful flight of a hot air balloon in Australia is worth celebrating, as today ballooning in Australia has never
been so popular. Each day, tourists enjoy exhilarating panoramas of Sydney,
the Victorian Alps and the Northern Territory's MacDonnell Ranges from
their eyries in the sky. In the national capital, the annual Canberra Balloon Fiesta showcases the teamwork, camaraderie and expertise of national and state ballooning clubs.|
Background of ballooning in Australia
The honour of being the first to fly a hot air balloon in Australia belongs
to William Dean who successfully flew 13 kilometres across Melbourne
on 1 February 1858. Dean followed up his triumph by flying across Sydney
Harbour in December of the same year.
In an age when travelling by ship took months, Dr William Bland (1789-1868)
of Sydney invented an Atmotic Ship that would be able to fly from Sydney to
London in less than a week. The 60-metre ship consisted of a hydrogen-filled balloon and four propellers - two propelled by steam and two by atmospheric
pressure; a clever idea given the huge distances the ship was expected to fly.
During the 1850s William exhibited models of the ship in London. Despite his
best efforts, the Atmotic Ship was never built. Australians would have to wait
until the 20th century to fly to London.