Waking up at 2.30am might not be ideal for most people, but for Nick Brau it’s all part of the job.
Mr Brau is director and chief pilot for Liberty Balloon Flights, the only company to currently fly hot air balloons in Tasmania.
After months of preparation to get the needed permits and equipment ready, on Sunday, Mr Brau was up bright and early to take a small group up in the air for the company’s Tasmanian maiden flight.
“It was the first balloon flight for us here in Tasmania, and actually a very special day for me,” he said.
“I’ve been flying in Australia for almost 17 years and flying balloons for 25, but this is the first time that I have my own business here in Australia, and this is the first flight.”
Departing from The Sebel Launceston at 4.30am, the group was driven out to field near Liffey.
After spending some time getting the balloon set up, it was time for the group to hop in.
Following about an hour of flying over countryside and near the Great Lake, the balloon touched down for landing in a field near Cressy.
“We had a pretty special flight in the sense that we flew up to 8500 feet,” Mr Brau said.
“My intention was to go out and get closer to the mountains.
“You go up very high but people are always pretty surprised at how gentle the balloon is.”
Mr Brau said a highlight of his job was taking people up to experience what he’s passionate about.
“I love ballooning. I hate the alarm clock going off so early, everybody does. But once I’m flying I always enjoy it.”
Passengers Beth Needham and Ben Hunter said it was an amazing experience.
Ms Needham said they were down from Brisbane to travel around the state.
“It was Ben’s 21st birthday back in December, so we did this for it,” she said.
“You can hike it and walk around it, but it’s good to see the landscape from up in the air,” Mr Hunter said.
“It was awesome, and a beautiful spot to do it in.”
Depending on the wind, the flights will float over parts of the North such as the Tamar Valley, Launceston, the Northern Midlands, and the Meander Valley.
Flights are expected to run until mid-April and will restart in the summer.
For more information, visit libertyballoonflights.com.au or call 1800 BALLOON.