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Shire of Northam.

Ballooning events take off

HOT air balloons aren’t the only thing flying high in Northam after the dates for two separate ballooning championship events were confirmed last week.

The 23rd Australian National Ballooning Championships will now be held from May 5 to 13, 2023, after its reluctant postponement in May earlier this year, while the Women’s World Hot Air Ballooning Championships have been rescheduled to September 4 to 9, 2023, after a COVID-forced cancellation in 2021.

Both events are supported by Tourism WA and delivered by Northam Ballooning Events, in partnership with the Shire of Northam.

Northam Shire president Chris Antonio was thrilled with the return of the events and said if every one of the 30,000 expected to visit spent just $100 in the region, $3 million would be injected into the local economy.

“The beauty of it from a regional approach is that all of the accommodation in the surrounding Shires – Toodyay, York, Cundedin – is booked out as well,” he said.

“Because we’re so close to the City, it’s also very doable for a day trip from the metro area.”

Next year’s Australian Championship, the fifth held in Northam, includes a festival that will activate the town with balloon-themed events.

“One of my highlights is the Balloon Night Glow, last time we had a number of balloons on the ovals with their flames popping out the tops to heavy metal music,” Cr Antonio said.

“To see the crowds and the music, to me, it was as good as the old Australia Day fireworks”.

The Women’s World Hot Air Ballooning Championships was last held in Poland in 2018, when 33 athletes from 10 nations competed, including Australia’s Nicola Scaife, who won the event in both 2014 and 2016.

By Claire Ottaviano

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