Northam secures a world class ballooning bid

Balloon bonanza: The Shire of Northam is set to host the 2021 Women's World Ballooning championships. Photos: Karen Morgan and Graeme Stokes.
Balloon bonanza: The Shire of Northam is set to host the 2021 Women's World Ballooning championships. Photos: Karen Morgan and Graeme Stokes.

The Shire of Northam is set to continue to make a name for itself as the 'ballooning capital of Western Australia' with the local government being successful it its bid to host the 2021 Women's World Ballooning Championships. 

The bid, compiled by the Shire of Northam and Northam Ballooning Events Inc. was presented at a meeting of FAI Ballooning Commission last Friday in Istanbul.

Local balloonist Donna Tasker attended the meeting on behalf of the groups to present the bid.

Ms Tasker's trip was part funded by the Shire of Northam who gave $3,000 to go towards her accomodation.

This will be the first time the championships, that will be in its fourth year, have been held outside of Europe with previous events taking place in Poland and Lithuania.

Shire of Northam President Chris Antonio said the event will attract a large number of international and interstate visitors to the Avon Valley. 

"The Shire of Northam is excited to have the opportunity to hold such a significant event," he said.

"It follows on from the recent successful Australian Ballooning Championships in 2015 and 2017 and we are looking forward to working together with Northam Ballooning Events on this event.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the Shire of Northam and the Avon Valley to the world."

Shire of Northam chief executive Jason Whiteaker said more than 50 balloonists and support staff are expected to be in Northam for up to 10 days over the duration of the world championships. 

"The Shire sees this as having flow on effects and a boost to tourism and the economy in the region in both the short and long term," Mr Whiteaker said.

Australian balloonist Nicola Scaife won the first and second Women's World Hot Air Ballooning Championships in Poland in 2014 and Lithuania in 2016.

Mrs Scaife appeared in Northam's winning bid video alongside Ms Tasker and Councillor Antonio.

Northam Ballooning Events spokesperson Gren Putland said the championships will help add to Northam's ballooning history.

"Northam is renowned as the launch site for numerous world and national ballooning records, including the successful flights by Steve Fossett and Fedor Konyukhov," he said.

"Northam was also the host for the Australian Championships held in 1981, 1984 and in 2015 and 2017.

"The event will attract the world's best women balloon pilots and supporters to Northam.

"As with previous events, the organisers will be working with local residents in planning and operational aspects of the event."

Dates for the championships are yet to be released but the event is planned to take place between August and September 2021.