Touring Down Under from On High

When I signed up for a hot air balloon tour of Australia's Hunter Valley, famed for its wines, I had visions of a romantic Loire Valley-style adventure transplanted Down Under: festively colored, majestic balloons awaiting me with jets of golden flame roaring into their bellies and liveried waiters serving flutes of champagne. But this is no-frills, no-nonsense Oz, after all, and visitors to the valley can expect, instead, 4:30 a.m. wake-ups for the predawn launch, a dress code of jeans, caps and collared shirts to protect heads and necks from the heat of the flame, and a Balloon Aloft pilot who...

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