Paragliding in Australia - Part Two
They say paragliding is not a sport but a lifestyle and never ending search for flyable conditions. After looking at my photo's I realized that over half were of paragliding or the search for the right conditions to fly. Well we did get a few amazing flights in over the 10 weeks I was there and I did 50 flights with close to 25 hours of airtime! I also returned with a new paraglidier and for the first time can't wait for next summer to fly!

Destin Carving the Air above me in Queensland

The upper takeoff at katabunda, the hill may only be 800 feet high but on good days thermals pop off all around it make it possible to gain several thousand feet of altitude and cover good distances

You meet lots of interesting and fun people paragliding. The Road to the top of this hill is near vertical and rocky. You feel like the truck is going to tumble over backwards as you drive up. Our Nissan Pintara would not have a chance.

After thinking that the wind would be to strong to fly on the coast we decided to go for a drive andcheck it out for something to do and got in an hour of fun flying at NE Bonnie Hills.

Byron Bay was the most well rounded spot to hang out in. Many good surf beaches, lots of nightlife with good live music, Good paragliding a short drive away from town with a good group of local pilots. Could have easily spent another few weeks here (we stopped there twice on the trip) Here I am flying a couple thousand feet over the ground at possum shoot, Byron Bay is in the upper right hand corner of the photo.

Made it to Melbourne. Melbourne is a great city. Not as pretty as Sydney but has much more going on. Lots of side streets downtown with loads of bars, cafe's, restaurants, clubs ect... More nightlife and live music than Sydney as well.
Well Destin had to leave from Sydney so we worked our way down the coast with strong winds the entire way so no flying. Sold the surfboards, Sold the Car, Said good-bye then I got a plane ticket to Melbourne and then took the train/bus to a small mountain town of Bright, Which has a 1500' high hill called mystic behind town. Just so happens this is one of the most consistent flying sites in all of Australia and there's not much else to do in Bright but fly! Here we are at launch in the early morning to get a few mellow short flights before the thermals start kicking in then the real flying begins.
Getting ready at the Launch at Mystic. One of the easiest launch sites I found during the entire trip

Since the area is very good for flying it can get crowded. When there are a bunch of pilots all flying together it is called a Gaggle(like Geese). I got to fly in my first real gaggles here in Bright. At one point on the weekend I counted 28 pilots in the air at the same time. It takes extra concentration to keep track of all the people around you but adds a new challenge.

The Hostel at Bright is very Paraglider Friendly. The owner is a long time pilot and there is a discount for pilots, flying magazines, videos, and entire walls of maps of the area and places to and not to land. Even pre printed laminated signs saying "glider pilot to Bright" for hitching back to town after a long cross country flight.

Here I am flying 3500' over mystic Mt. with the town of Bright in the upper right had corner. You can just make out a paraglider coming into land at the main landing zone in the lower right hand corner of the photo. The small speck and shadow over the dark tree's just before the open field.

Holding both brakes (controls) in one hand to take a photo. Not easy to take pictures and fly in rough thermal conditions. Even though it often gets to 95 deg on the ground most pilots have thick fleece gloves, full flight suites, Balaclava's and other warm gear for the air at altitude gets very cold. Paragliders often reach 10000' here in bright and they dress very warm. I made it to almost 6000 from a 2500' launch which is as high as the thermals would take me on the days I was there. Was nice and cool

flying over the mystic Mt. with logging roads and pine trees below. There are no natural pines in the area but the plant them and the area looks like the western US at times.

A few pilots working the same thermal. Having other pilots around helps to locate the rising columns of air.

For $5 a trip you get another ride up to the top of mystic. They pile people inside and lots of gear on the roof rack (and a person or two often hops up and rides on the roof for the rough bouncy ride up the Mt.)

You just can't ask for better flying conditions that this!
My last flight of the entire trip was a sunset buoyant ride down to to a smooth landing. Here is the person who launched behind me landing ending a great day and for me a great paragliding trip!