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10 Years ago, Global Ballooning Australia’s Managing Director, Kiff Saunders had a severe motorcycle accident that left him unable to walk for an extended period of time. Through years of rehabilitation he has been able to return to flying hot air balloons over his beloved Melbourne.
While extremely grateful for his recovery, this accident left Kiff with a deep appreciation for the challenges that come with loss of mobility, and the barriers of entry for outdoor activity.
As a thankyou to the medical fraternity, Kiff embarked on a project witrh Burt & Davies to provide a hot air ballooning experience for people with mobility issues. This is how the Easy Access Basket was born.
Recently, we had the pleasure of flying with Brooke Parsons. Suffering a major physical disability 28 years ago, Brook and Jacob, her carer recently took to the skies over the Yarra Valley with Chief Pilot Steve.
“For a brief time I got to forget how sick I am and just enjoy the moment of doing something spectacular that not everyone gets to do in life. I was so lucky to wake up on Thursday morning and see the sky full of colour like confetti with three balloons”
Having undergone 92 operations to date, Steve and the other guests were delighted to share the excitement and splendour of lighter than air aviation with Brooke.
“I will truly treasure the moments yesterday brought me and the fleeting moments of clarity as I get ready for more specialist appointments and more surgeries.”
Over the past decade, Global Ballooning Australia has flown hundreds of people who otherwise would not have been able to take flight in a balloon. It is without question, the most rewarding project that both Kiff and the company have been able to successfully undertake. We receive many lovely messages from past passengers after our balloon flights. The heartfelt and personal message we received from Brooke makes us so proud as a company; To do what we love and share what we love with every person, no matter the limitations that can get in the way.
“…a heartfelt thank you for all the trouble you all went to in making a dream of mine reality.”
Thankyou Brooke for your lovely message, we truly hope your continuing surgeries are going well and hope to see you in the sky again. In the mean time, we proudly celebrate and operate our Easy Access Basket and share more stories like yours!
Balgownie Estate is a stunner setting where we meet all our Yarra Valley flight passengers pre-flight each morning. This is where Brooke and her carer, Jacob had the pleasure of staying in an accessible room.
On site there is a fully wheelchair accessible Spa Suite room, which has lower benches, wheelchair accessible shower with railing and a seat to accommodate guests. There is also 6 other accessible rooms. Ramps are set out amongst the property to accommodate access into the Pool & Natskin Spa Retreat building, as well as the Eatery.
Yering Gorge Cottages is another perfect accommodation option - there is a fully accessible cottage and facilities available. Only located 15mins away from our meeting location. Enjoy the surrounding beauty with kangaroos commonly seen metres from your cottage.
*Global Ballooning Australia’s primary location for the Easy Access Basket flights is in Melbourne but can be booked on a last-minute basis in the Yarra Valley location on request.*
Wander through Warburton - accessible:
Open in Summer:
Top Yarra Valley Accessible Picnic Spots:
For much more information on ACCESSIBLE accommodation & experiences in the Yarra Valley, please visit: https://visityarravalley.com.au/facilities-activities/wheelchair-accessible
by Kate Esposto