A new toy for Australia Day

Every year we head out to Parramatta Park (western Sydney) for the Australia Day ballooning. Normally they get about 15 balloons at the event, half of which free fly and the other half give tethered balloon rides to the crowd.

Parramatta Park 2013

This year there was a new balloon on the scene… our new racer. Late last year we decided that it was time to sell the old balloon and buy a racer. This was for a variety of reasons, but mainly because I really did not like flying the lumpy 77. It used to frustrate the hell out of me, because it just was not as responsive as the smaller and more slender race. About the same time we were thinking about doing this, a guy in Byron Bay happened to post on the Australian Ballooning Federation’s website that he was looking for an envelope and a couple of weeks later he came down to Sydney and bought it.

So with that, I put in the order for a new Kavanagh Balloons EX65 racer envelope. James (my 10 year old sun) actually came up with the original design concept. I had to tweak it a bit to get the colours to link up. So the design is one that the whole family loves.


So once the order was in, then it was time to work out a name for it. We never really bothered naming the old balloon. We just called it “The Balloon”. I think that was mainly due to the fact we were not overly sentimental about it. However since we designed this one, we are more proud of it and therefore decided to name it “Shadowfax”.

Shadowfax (“Sceadufæx” in Rohirric) was the Lord of all horses. He was a descendent of Felarof, of the race of the Mearas, the greatest horses of Middle-earth. Shadowfax was capable of comprehending human speech and was said to run faster than the wind. Originally belonging to the House of Eorl, Lord of Rohan, Shadowfax was too wild to be tamed by the Rohirrim; eventually being granted to Gandalf the White by Théoden, the then-king of Rohan.

The balloon was finished a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately I was in Brisbane on the day the test inflation was done. Kath and James went along and emailed me photos as it was happening. So Australia Day was going to be the first time I was going to see it.

All week the weather looked like it was going to be windy and rainy, however the weather gods were kind and Saturday morning end up being perfect (but warm). After a long week at work, I decided I didn’t need the hassle of actually flying, and I wanted to a chance to check out the new balloon and get some photos. So we just stood the balloon up and chatted to the crowds.

I couldn’t be happier with the design. I especially love the way the pattern came together in the top of the balloon. Considering that is pretty much all of a balloon I ever see when I am flying it, that is lucky.

The Top

So the balloon is now back in the garage for a month or so, waiting for the weather to get cooler, when we can start getting ready for the Nationals in April.

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