Gold Coast Day 3 (2 Jul 16) – Soaring above the Hinterlands in Hot Air Balloon and a Day of Fun at Warners Brothers Movie World

Hot Air Ballooning over the Hinterlands

Hot Air Ballooning Over the Hinterlands

We woke up in the wee hours of the morning in time to meet the driver who picked us up at 4.30 am at our apartment. The plan today was to soar above the Hinterlands in a hot air balloon. I have never been on a hot air balloon before and thought this would be a good chance to experience the ride. I booked the ride online with Hot Air Ballooning Gold Coast, which comprises of a 30 min ride and a champagne breakfast at O’Reilly’s vineyard. The hot air balloon launch site is about 30 mins from the nearby town of Canungra. We reached the launch site at around 5 am and the weather at the launch site was freezing. I regretted not preparing enough warm clothing for this ride, knowing that it is a winter morning and the climate is bound to be cold (around 5 deg C). At the launch site, the driver gave us a final safety brief as the hot air balloons were being set up. Listening to the driver on the brief, my eyes were set on the hot air balloons, which went from limp to standing tall into the sky, which stretches up to 33m in height. I am getting excited about the ride. Soon we were given instructions to board the basket that would be carried by the hot air balloon across the farmlands and vineyards. Inside the basket, while the pilot was doing his final checks before lifting off, I felt the warmth from the hot flames that heat the air inside the balloon for it to glide in the skies. I wished I was standing right underneath it and that the pilot would keep it constantly on as I was freezing from the cold winter air. After the final checks, we were lifted off the ground. Unlike aeroplanes, the lift-off in a hot air balloon was very gentle. If I hadn’t looked out on the ground, I wouldn’t have realised that we have lifted off. The balloon gradually and gently gain altitude without any bumps or air turbulence. As I am acrophobic, I had an initial regret doing the hot air balloon ride. The higher the hot air balloon raised from the ground, the more insecure I felt. There isn’t any life jackets nor were there any precautionary devices should mishaps happen up the air. I tried not to think about the negativity and told myself to enjoy the scenery that was before my eyes. Very soon these negative thoughts disappeared.
We were picked up by the driver at 4.30 am
The hot air balloons are being prepared when we arrive at the launch site
Taking wefie while waiting for the balloon to be ready for boarding
The day is about to break at the launch site
Almost ready for boarding
My friend boarding the hot air balloon
Taking a wefie before launch
Surroundings at the launch site
And we are away
The hot air balloon slowly make its way up into the sky
Vehicles at the launch site are getting smaller
Panoramic shot of the surrounding
View of the farmlands
We were in time to catch the sunrise over the coastal area, from the height and through the skilful control of the balloon by the pilot, I can see a huge orange colour ball rising from the oceans afar assuming its duty for the day. As the sun rises, the air around warms up. This is an exhilarating feeling, being up in the sky, floating gently as the winds would carry us. This moment is when all the negative thoughts disappear. I would say being up in the sky in a hot air balloon is rather therapeutic. Around us, I can see as far as the mountains beyond the Hinterlands that stretches endlessly over the horizon. On the ground, I can see lakes and ponds, rivers and creeks covered with a layer of fog as the warm air meets the cool surface. The pilot manoeuvred the balloon up and down for us to enjoy the view over the Hinterlands better. We were told (after the ride) that the highest we went up in the sky was nearly 5000ft (about 1500m or a whopping 500 storey!). Occasionally, I looked down onto the ground below us, I can see cows moving in herds across the farmlands seemingly towards their breakfast grounds; horses galloping in groups as though they are doing their morning exercise; birds flying in flocks starting their hunt for the day. The view was nothing short of breathtaking, with the magnificent view of the mountains and the cities resting by the coastal area, nature starting its day differently. I wished that the pilot never lands this balloon. Just when my friend and I were busy taking selfies, wefies and pictures of each other in the balloon, we found ourselves seem to get closer to the ground. Our 30 mins ride is about to end (the ride took around 45 mins). As the balloon slowly approaching the ground, the pilot was busy manoeuvring the balloon and coordinating with his colleagues on the ground regarding the landing spot. The balloon touches down onto the ground. My friend and I helped with the packing of the hot air balloon after everyone exited the basket. Soon we found ourselves being driven to the nearby farmhouse on a trailer where our bus was waiting to fetch us for breakfast.
Sunrise over the mountain ranges
We can see the mountain ranges over the horizon
The sun slowly makes its way up the sky
Sunrise from the hot air balloon
Taking a wefie from the hot air balloon
Sunrise over the horizon
Panoramic shot of the mountain ranges in the Hinterlands
The land warms up as the sun rises for its duty
Panoramic shot of the land from the hot air balloon
Shot of the land below
Another shot of the sunrise
We made it slowly through the lands below
The other balloon
We float above some farmlands
View from the hot air balloon
The sun rays covering most of the land
View of the surroundings from the hot air balloon
The farmhouses below looked like toys
Gazing at the mountains afar
I love looking at the sunrise over the horizon from the hot air balloon
More farmlands below
How can one not fall in love with such a sight
Another panoramic shot from the hot air balloon
The sun slowly made its way up the sky
Mountain ranges from a hot air balloon
Panoramic shot of the mountain ranges
These mountain ranges look tiny from the hot air balloon
Look at massive landmass below
We are approaching the landing site

Breakfast at O’Reilly’s Vineyard

The ride from the landing site to O’Reilly’s Homestead Vineyard took about 20 mins. The bus stopped in front of a vintage large wooden homestead. Both my friend and I found the surroundings of the homestead to be very peaceful and tranquil. We spoke about how nice it would be to be staying here. We were given 1.5 hours for breakfast and to roam around the surroundings of the Homestead. Each of us was given a glass of champagne as soon as we alighted from the bus. The driver told us to find any seats in the homestead and go grab our breakfast. We would love to have a table outside in the veranda hopefully under the sun as we still feel cold from earlier in the morning. All the outside tables are being taken, my friend and I settled at the long table near the buffet table. Breakfast was a simple affair with the standard baked beans, bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, salads and coffee/tea. Despite simple, the breakfast was tasty and did indeed warm us up. After breakfast, we headed to the back of the homestead where the Canungra Creek runs by. Listening to the stream of water flowing gently along the creek with a small hill as the backdrop, my friend and I enjoyed the peace the surroundings offered. After taking some pictures, we headed towards the vineyard to take some more pictures. There were no grapes on the vines, it seemed they just have been recently harvested. We headed towards the creek to take more pictures. There was a dog at the homestead grounds, friendly and wanting to play with visitors. The dog approached us with a deflated ruby ball, placed on the ground in front of us, as though he wanted us to kick far so that he can run out and fetch it back to us. We did so for a while before it is time for us to board the bus that would take us back to our apartment in Surfers Paradise.
O’Reilly’s Homestead Vineyard where we had our champagne breakfast
Buffet breakfast
Taking a wefie after breakfast
Some items on sale at O’Reilly’s Homestead Vineyard
Locally produced wine
The creek behind the O’Reilly’s Homestead where we had breakfast
The creek behind O’Reilly’s Homestead
This is where the grapes used for making wine will be grown
Looks like the grapes has just been harvested not long ago
A pavilion in front of the vineyard
Flowers grew at O’Reilly’s Homestead Vineyard
Yey, some leaves… but no grapes
The creek behind O’Reilly’s Homestead
This is a great place to relax after a hearty breakfast
The friendly dog at the vineyard that loves to play with every visitor
My friend playing with the dog

Warners Brothers Movie World

Back in our apartment in Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, my friend and I decide where to spend the rest of the day. We originally wanted to drive down to Byron Bay, the easternmost point in Australia. As the drive takes about 1 hour per way, coupled with the tiredness from waking up early, we decided to head somewhere nearby. We decided to head to Warner Brothers Movie World. I was a little hesitant in visiting a theme park on a weekend, expecting it to be very crowded. At the entrance, I was surprised the ticketing queue was not as long as I had expected. We approached a counter to get our annual pass exchanged and soon we were in the theme park. At the entrance of Warner Brother’s Movie World, we saw the Green Lantern ride. Well, it looked mild enough to start our day riding the trills offered by the various roller coasters in Warner Brother’s Movie World. We did not have to wait for too long for our turn on the 4 seats by 2-row roller coaster car. After leaving the boarding area, the car was slowly hosted on a sloped track up 33 m. The initial few metres of the track seem gentle and boring. After a short u-turn on the top of the tracks, the car plunges more than 90deg down towards the ground. This is where the excitement of the ride started to kick in. The car tossed and turned sideways along the track and towards the end, there is a short track where we were hung upside down before returning to the station. As scary as it may look, the Green Lantern ride is a good way to start our adrenaline pumping for the rest of the rides in Warner Brother’s Movie World.
Entrance to Warner Brothers Movie World
We finally got our annual pass
The fun starts passing through this door
We stop for a wefie at the door of Warner Brothers Movie World
Familiar superheroes
The Green Lantern ride
Entering the Green Lantern coaster ride
A glimpse of the Superman Escape Ride
Warner Brothers Movie World looks pretty empty for a weekend, but we love it being empty
We headed to the Arkham Asylum ride next. I had been on this ride some 10 years ago when I last visited Warner Brother’s Movie World. Arkham Asylum is a hanging roller coaster. After ascending the slope of about 32m, we were tossed and flipped left and right and upside throughout the entire 45 sec of the ride time. We headed further into the theme park and took the Scooby-Doo roller coaster ride. The indoor ride was rather mild compared to the two rides we had been on. The initial stretch on the Scooby-Doo ride was rather mild. The fun starts when the coaster car was lifted to the second storey, where the car started a backward move before stopping and turned around to face the rest of the track. The car moved downwards via a series of sharp turns, swaying us sideways as the car move downwards towards the ground level. After the ride, my friend and I explored the other parts of Warner Brother’s Movie World. We even went on the kiddy Road Running roller coaster ride just for the fun of it.
This door leads to the Arkham Asylum hanging coaster ride
Waiting for our turn on the Arkham Asylum ride
Tracks for the Arkham Asylum ride
We survived the Arkham Asylum ride
The main street in Warner Brothers Movie World
There are lots of shops here on the main street
Posing at the main street
Loony Tunes 4D show
Main street at the Warner Brothers Movie World
Main street at Warner Brothers Movie World
Seems more crowded here
We found Austin Powers who is happy to take a wefie with us
Kids zone
We went on the Road Runner Roller Coaster for kids, just for fun
Road Runner Coaster tracks
Nope, we did not ride this, just came here and take a look
Looking at the time, we have spent almost 3 hours in the theme park doing some of the rides over and over again. 1 hour to its closing time, my friend and I headed for the Superman Escape Ride. One can visibly see the red tracked ride with yellow roller coaster vehicle from the entrance of Warner Brother’s Movie World. After the ride leaves the boarding area, it makes its way through an indoor area, simulated to be the tunnel of a subway. At the end of the tunnel, the roller coast paused momentarily before shooting the roller coaster up the track at a very fast speed. At the top of the track, the roller coaster turns and falls towards the ground at a near 90 deg angle. After the plunge, the roller coaster continued its momentum up a shorter slope and plunging at around 70 deg. The whole ride takes around 30 sec. There isn’t much of tossing around nor is there any 360 corkscrew turns on this coaster, its fun part is the initial 90 deg plunge onto the ground. We have been on the ride several times, the best seat for this ride is the front row, where one can see directly the track during the initial plunge. We went on the Superman Escape rider several more times before heading back to the apartment to rest for the night. I thought Warner Brother’s Movie World can be done in half a day if one is not interested in the shows and just wanted to go on the rides.
We went on the Superman Escape ride in Warner Brothers Movie World
The tracks look scary, but the ride wasn’t as scary as the track looks
Batwing ride with Superman Escape tracks at the background
Superman Escape track
Taking a wefie before we leave Warner Brothers Movie World
Green Lantern tracks can be better seen from the carpark
One more wefie at the door before we leave Warner Brothers Movie World

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