The giant kookaburra takes its first load of passengers in idyllic conditions yesterday morning.
The giant kookaburra takes its first load of passengers in idyllic conditions yesterday morning.

Kookaburra balloon takes flight

THERE could not have been a more beautiful backdrop when a lone, giant kookaburra made its way skywards.

With its rolling hills and rich soil, the valley of Gladfield – between Warwick and Cunningham’s Gap – was the idyllic venue for a hot air balloon ride.

It is also the impending home for Treehenge, a large tree design which when fully grown, will be seen from space.

Condamine Alliance volunteer engagement officer Alex Kennedy said Gladfield was one of the first places the bird-shaped hot air balloon could take off.

“We’ve had launches in Toowoomba, Gold Coast, Southbank, Cleveland and Ipswich and (Gladfield was) by far the best conditions we’ve had,” she said.

“In Ipswich it went up and in Cleveland it did for a couple of times before it was too windy.”

Five-year-old Piper Brady, along with brothers Clayton and Darcy, was abuzz after touching down from her “air hot” balloon ride.

“It was very exciting – we waved to mummy and daddy and held on tight,” she said.

“It was a little bit cold up there, but no-one was scared.”

The Kookaburra took guests up 100 metres into the sky, where they could get a view of the region, including the laid out grounds for the trees.

Condamine Alliance CEO Phil McCullough said planting would begin after winter.

“We’ve been slashing down, levelling gullies and getting ready to dig the holes and plant the trees,” he said.

“Planting should begin September-October for the first 20,000 trees and the other 20,000 will begin in February.”

The group have planned the tree design well in advance, including which species would go where.

Chinchilla White Gum trees, which cope well with frost, will be in the low-lying areas of the 100 hectare block.

Other trees in the design will include cedars, iron boxes and red forest gums.

Mr McCullough said he hoped Treehenge would attract visitors and encourage others to think about sustainable practices.

 

Project's enormity amazes

WITH great anticipation of my first hot air balloon ride, I may have (momentarily) forgotten the reason behind it all.

But while I was sailing in the air (in line with the clouds if there had been any yesterday), the enormity of the project struck me.

The Treehenge design will incorporate 40,000 trees over 100 hectares. That’s a space four football fields wide and three football fields deep.

Not only does the Condamine Alliance expect it to be viewable from space, they are hoping Treehenge will prompt other local schools and bodies to pick up environmentally-friendly habits.

The Condamine Alliance encourages schools to develop ‘school environmental management plans’. Part of this includes promoting vegetable gardens, compost heaps and recycling.

When it is in its latter stages of development, Treehenge will also bring new waves of visitors to the region.

General Manager Andy Greening said Prince William was already on board, having been briefed about the project on his trip to Queensland earlier this year.

A wing of the design is said to be dedicated to him and Princess Catherine.



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