|Some think it looks hideous, but the Skywhale was eye-catching in the morning sunshine over the Barossa Valley, February 25, 2014. Photo: Spence Denny|
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has been forced to make an embarrassing retraction after prematurely killing off Canberra’s controversial Skywhale hot air balloon on live radio.
Both loved and hated by Canberrans, the balloon sculpture, designed by artist Patricia Piccinini, is twice as big as an average hot air balloon.
Mr Barr told 666 ABC Canberra he understood the balloon had reached the end of its life span and would not be appearing at this weekend’s Balloon Spectacular in Canberra.
“It had a certain number of flights – and all balloons do, they don’t last forever,” he said on Friday.
“I understand that it’s pretty well flown as many times, so no it won’t be in Canberra for the balloon spectacular this year.”
However following these comments, Mr Barr’s office moved to clarify that the balloon was still capable of flying.
Mr Barr later tweeted: “Keep Calm – #Skywhale won’t be flying in the 2015 #CBR #BalloonSpectacular but she hasn’t flown her last flight. #StillLifeInTheOldGirl”.
In a post on Facebook Mr Barr said Skywhale was currently in Melbourne and negotiations were underway for an upcoming trip to Ireland.
It is understood the balloon has a lifespan of between 300 to 400 hours, and so far it has only flown between 50 to 100 hours.
The $300,000 balloon was commissioned by the ACT Government for Canberra’s centenary year in 2013, but is not actually owned by the territory.
During its flying career the Skywhale travelled to Tasmania for the Dark Mofo winter festival and to Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Melbourne, among other destinations.