Giant whale hot-air balloon commemorates Canberra's 100th birthday

A sculpture by internationally renowned artist Patricia Piccinini, called The Skywhale, has successfully taken flight. Commissioned for the Centenary of Canberra, Skywhale is at least twice as big as a standard hot-air balloon, weighs half a tonne and used more than 3.5km of fabric. It took 16 people seven months and more than 3.3million stitches to design and make.

Believed to be the first hot-aired balloon commissioned to celebrate a city's 100th birthday, it is 34m long and 23m high, has the face of a whale and the flowing form of a fish but is draped with pendulous udder-like appendages.

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