Australian National Site Guide - Northern Beaches

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New South Wales - Northern Beaches - 8 sites

Map of Northern Beaches sites
Name Location Type Conditions Rating Height
Bungan Sydney's Northern Beaches. Coastal cliff ENE Strictly PG5 only, SSO briefing compulsory. No tandems, no HG. 100' / 30m
Cooks Terrace Sydney's Northern Beaches. Coastal Cliff HG: NE-E, PG: NE-SE PG2, HG Advanced 130' / 40m
Long Reef NE Sydney's Northern Beaches. Moderately steep coastal hill, covered in grass, scrub and small trees NE PG2 / HG Supervised 100' / 30m
Long Reef SE Sydney's Northern Beaches. Steep coastal hill, covered in grass, scrub and shale S-SE PG2 (with conditions), HG Advanced 100' / 30m
Mona Vale Sydney's Northern Beaches. Coastal Cliff with a grass slope above S-SE PG4 / HG Intermediate 100' / 30m
Newport Sydney's Northern Beaches. Small coastal cliff plus high coastal hill S-SE PG4 / HG Intermediate 80' / 25m
Turimetta Sydney's Northern Beaches. Mixture of coastal cliffs and steeply sloping faces with many knolls SE PG4 / HG Intermediate 60' / 20m
Warriewood Sydney's Northern Beaches. Coastal Cliff NE PG4 / HG Intermediate 130' / 40m
New South Wales - Northern Beaches

Bungan

ENE site with rotor coming from many directions. Steep cliff and reverse slope add to the difficulty. A deceptive site, with a very difficult take-off and landing. Bomb out is on Bungan beach.
Restrictions:An "on-site" briefing from a club SSO is compulsory prior to flying this site.

Takeoff

Rotow can come from either left or right of launch. You must be able to read conditions to fly this site as it involves pulling the wing up into and through rotor. Excellent ground handling skills are required. Make sure you are airborne before the fence and shrubs.

Landing

On the beach is the safest option. Be aware, if wind direction has turned north, the beach can be in rotor from the northern headland. Top landing is extremely difficult. The landing slopes back down away from the cliff and the same rotor you took off in is still here. If you attempt this, get out of your harness early and stay well forward.

Flight

Lower level of airspace at 2500'. Do not fly over the houses (100ft vertical - 25m horizontal)!

Hazards/Comments

The steep cliff on this site creates a wind gradient that can mask the true wind strength. After taking off, pilots can find themselves climbing into stronger winds and struggling to push forward. Be aware, there can also be severe compression out on the point.
New South Wales - Northern Beaches

Cooks Terrace

A large grassy park atop a sandstone cliff which faces almost due east but has a turn towards the north west at the northern end. This is a great fun site that is very popular due to the large grass park and non-metered parking right next to the site. It will be very busy with paraglidiers if the breeze is not too strong for them. Contact a club member before flying.

Takeoff

HG: In the past cliff launches were the only launches considered possible but recent experience has shown that a conventional launch is now possible. Seek advice from local hang glider pilots before attempting. You need to carefully line up your take off and will need the help of local experienced hang glider pilots.

PG: When launching, do not step on the low wooden fence and un-load your canopy right on the edge. When conditions are light and north of east, in order to stay up, pilots adopt a pattern whereby the upwind leg of a "circuit" is flown close to the ridge and the downwind pass is executed out to sea. Be aware of this possibility and don't force your right of way.

Landing

HG: Mona Vale beach, Warriewood beach or on the relative flat grassed area north of launch and between the vegetated sand dune and the line of trees behind.

PG: The beaches to either the north or south of the headland. The park at the northern end when the wind has little to no south in it. Top landing is very easy, simply approach from the appropriate direction for the wind and make your landing in the front half of the launch area. Take care to look out for spectators as this is a very popular park. Once you've landed, please drop your wing to make it easy for others to also launch or land.

Flight

Lower Level of controlled airspace is at 2500'.

Hazards/Comments

HG: There is considerable turbulence behind the tree near the wooden bench. Its nature is related to the wind direction bias and strength.

PG: There are often many many spectators. There is rotor behind the bush on top of the cliff near the northern end. When conditions are crowded and there are hangliders in the mix, things can be very 'busy'. Keep an eye on the wind direction. When the wind is to the south don't fly the north east facing part of the ridge. However it is possible to fly into the bowl behind Warriewood beach (though best not to go into the lee of Warriewood headland). If the wind moves more to the north the reverse becomes true.

Radio control aircraft often operate on the northern end of the ridge. There are powerlines on the other side of the road and between the surf club and toilet block on Warriewood beach. It's an unleashed dog park.

New South Wales - Northern Beaches

Long Reef NE

A relatively straight ridge facing NE with a moderate slope. The ridge runs from the rock platform at the eastern end, up to the crown of the headland and then turns slightly more north and continues in an north westerly direction for approximately half a kilometre. It then turns sharply to the west becoming more cliff like. It is covered in a mixture of tussock grass and low bush, with some small trees. This is a good site to build up your hours with easy ridge soaring and great views north to Whale Beach. Take care on summer days as the sea breeze will nearly always strengthen. Contact a club member before flying.

Takeoff

Paragliders launch from the grassy area near the crown of the headland that is approximately level. There is space for a couple of gliders. This launch gets quite a lot of compression in stronger conditions. This is a cliff launch for hanglider pilots who may need wire assistance.

Landing

Out on the point on the sandy spit, be prepared for the stronger wind in this compression zone. On the beach in front of the golf club next to the lower car park (you only need to be above the ridge at the north western end to make the glide to the beach). Be prepared for boats launching on the ramp, kite surfers and people walking on the beach by looking prior to your departure from the main ridge. Watch the pine trees though, their lower branches reach out over the sand. The boat launch is a raised concrete ramp and quite hard!

PG: If you should get low then it is possible to bomb out on the various bits of sand in front of the takeoff. However at high tide the area of sand is rather narrow. Top landing is relatively easy, approach from the north west, or south east as appropriate for the bias in the breeze. Take care to look out for spectators as this is a very popular walk.

Flight

Lower Level of controlled airspace is at 2500'.

Hazards/Comments

Strong compression at times, getting blown over the back would not be good for your health. Usually there are many many spectators. This is a very popular walking track and lookout. Radio controlled aircraft often fly here.
New South Wales - Northern Beaches

Long Reef SE

A relatively straight ridge facing SSE with a steep to very steep slope. The ridge runs from beach level at the western end, up to the crown of the headland and then turns slightly south east down to sea level at the eastern end. It is covered in a mixture of tussock grass, low bush, exposed rock and shale. Little to no trees survive on the ridge due to the salt air. This is a good site to build up your paragliding hours with easy ridge soaring and great views down to Manly. Not often flown by hang gliders as it's a fair walk to carry your kit. Contact a club member before flying.

Takeoff

This is a cliff launch for hanglider pilots who may need wire assistance.

PG: A grassy area part way along the walking track on the southern face. The grassed area is at best level and at worst slopes backwards away from the ridge. In order to launch you will need to be a few steps down the steep 'goat track' that goes directly over the edge. There is space for only one pilot at a time. If other pilots are present, they can hold your leading edge up which will simplify things, although experienced pilots regularly launch here un-aided. Because the hill rises towards the east, pilots flying eastwards tend to be lower and "hug" the cliff, those flying west are usually higher and often pass out to sea. This is opposite to the normal right of way rules but the pattern helps everyone to stay up.

Landing

A planned landing on the beach to the south west is the easiest option. If you should get low then it is possible to bomb out on the various narrow bits of sand and tidal rock shelf in front of the takeoff. However at high tide the rock shelf is covered by shallow water. You will be able to stand, but the wave action means you could lose your kit. When landing towards the main beach, there is a low spur which intersects the beach. Crashing into the spur is not recommended. There is a sandy beach out at the point on which you can also land, however there is some compression around the point.

PG: Top landing is relatively easy, however do NOT drift too far back as the rearwards sloping nature of the land means that some rotor is present behind the launch. You can avoid this by setting up your landing to touch down in front of the path. Lose height at the lower western end of the ridge near the beach then approach the launch along the ridge from the west. If you should get 'blown over the back', make distance towards the west away from the higher ridge and land in the golf course. You will not be popular with the golfers but you should be OK.

Flight

Lower Level of controlled airspace is at 2500'.

Hazards/Comments

This site is a favorite with model aircraft or RC flyers. More of an annoyance than a serious hazard, however please try and keep relations amicable with these fellow 'flyers'.

PG: The two main hazards with this site are the launch and the small areas to land below the launch at high tide. If you choose to scratch here in light conditions at high tide, you will probably get your gear wet. On launching, the steep slope means that your wing will quickly overshoot attempting to fly parallel with the apparent wind coming up the face. You need to be prepared to check it early. The normal approach is to just kite the wing and walk backwards up the slope a few steps back onto the level ground before turning and taking off. However should you fail to control the overshoot be prepared to become airborne facing backwards. In light to moderate conditions launching is relatively easy, however good ground handling skills are required in strong conditions. Novices are encouraged to get some help with their first few launches from this site. By having another pilot hold the leading edge of the wing up, the need to be standing down the slope is reduced and thus the chances of the wing overshooting is negated. When the wind is from the west of south conditions become more gusty and the lift becomes uneven. It is strongly recommended that novices do not fly this site in these conditions.

New South Wales - Northern Beaches

Mona Vale

A south to south east facing cliff, with a gently sloping tussock grass and bush slope above. A deceptive site for paragliders, quite small and affected by compression. However popular with hang glider pilots who in easterly breezes fly around the corner into Bungan. Contact a club member before flying.

Takeoff

HG: Some pilots launch from the lower shallow grassed area but it is considered safer to launch from the edge. PG: Use the lower grassed area just above the vertical cliff. The grass near the top of the headland isn't really steep enough and suffers badly from compression. Southerly winds tend to be gusty and there can be rotor from Warriewood headland. Check the ocean for signs of what's going on.

Landing

On the beach, which often has a very steep slope. Space is limited at high tide. Be aware of the power line running out to the pool. HG: There can be a severe slope on the beach running down to the water. If the wind has an easterly component in it then, as your glider slows on final approach it will weathercock and could put you in the water. Top landing is OK for paragliders, but there are areas of rotor near the footpath.

Flight

Lower Level Airspace at 2500'. Don't fly over the houses.

Hazards/Comments

HG: If the wind should change direction towards the west the landing zone will be in rotor. Sometimes there is severe compression out on the point and a significant wind gradient in stronger conditions. PG: The steep cliff lower down on this site creates a wind gradient that can mask the true wind strength. After taking off pilots find themselves climbing into the stronger wind and struggling to push forward. Over the back on this site is a sheer cliff with serious rotor. Don't get blown over the back! If you do the only good news is that you'll be over water, everything else is bad. There is also sometimes severe compression out on the point. Don't fly this site when the wind is from the west of south as the landing on the beach is in the lee of the pine trees.
New South Wales - Northern Beaches

Newport

A south to south east facing cliff, with a grassy park above the beach. Contact a club member before flying.

Takeoff

HG: On the grass in the park. On most days you will have to fly in close in order to get up. Let pilots who launched before you get up to the tanks prior to you launching, otherwise neither one will get up! Large sink holes exist behind the houses below 100' above them. Don't cross over to the next bowl until you have 100' above the water tanks. When you decide to cross over take a few short passes to make sure that you can make it back over that ridge that separates the two. In east south east conditions there is rotor behind this ridge. Watch the trees in this bowl for movement as they indicate where the lift is.

PG: The launch is very small with trees close by, you need to be good at ground handling to fly this site. There are two launches 15m apart, use the one most appropriate for the wind direction. Because of the height of the hill behind, the launch can be in a bit of wind shadow. If there are white caps inside of Newport reef it's too strong for Paragliders. Don't cross over the road until you have 100' above it. Keep in mind that the only safe landing option is the beach. Paragliders don't go into the southern bowl as the ridge is not that steep and it can be very difficult to penetrate out.

Landing

On the beach. Top landing: not an option for HG, not recommended for PG as the trees have grown up around the site. The football field is not a landing option because of power lines and rotor.

Flight

This site has two halves, the section below the road, and the much larger hill above. Hang gliders: To undertake the run up the coast, you need an east south east breeze. Lower Level Airspace at 2500'. 100' clearance required to fly over the road and houses.

Hazards/Comments

HG: The beach is popular in summer, make sure you have a landing spot.

There is a sewer vent pipe below launch and power lines on the eastern side of Barrenjoey road. When the breeze is too far to the south for safe soaring, "darkies" appear on the water behind Bungan Headland.

New South Wales - Northern Beaches

Turimetta

A complex set of cliffs and slopes with a lot of changes in direction of the cliff face make what appears to be a simple site quite tricky with compression and rotor in various places depending on the wind direction and strength. This site is not very popular with hang gliders. Contact a club member before flying.

Takeoff

A small grassy park. Most pilots choose to head along the cliff to the right of launch. Take care not to get in too close behind the knoll as there is much rotor.

Landing

On the beach in front of launch. Top landing is possible but requires accurate flying. Do not fly over the road!

Flight

Lower Level airspace is at 2500'.

Hazards/Comments

The nature of the site requires careful attention be paid to changing conditions as areas that were safe become affected by rotor and vice versa. When on the northern cliff face it is a fair way back to the beach. When the wind increases there is much compression on the launch, take care not to be blown over the road when launching or top landing. If in doubt land on the beach. When the wind swings to the east / southeast the launch is in rotor and you will experience difficulty inflating your canopy. This is a deceptive site that looks very benign but has a lot of gotchas.
New South Wales - Northern Beaches

Warriewood

A north-east facing cliff, with a lower section on the western end that is less steep and covered in coastal scrub and a higher vertical cliff face towards the ocean end. Pilots fly over the "blow hole", a sea cavern that runs though part of the headland. A popular and enjoyable site due to the height that it is possible to attain, and the 360's and other manoeuvres it allows for paragliders. Contact a club member before flying.

Takeoff

HG: Make your way down to the eastern end of the ramp before attempting to launch. Make sure your wings are flying first. Typically you will get a couple of strong steps in before leaving the ground.

PG: A small grassy park on the western section of the cliff. After launching you should always turn left towards the beach, as it is only just possible to make the glide if the lift is too light to stay up. Gain height on the lower slope and once level with the sandstone lookout, cross onto the main face. When conditions are good, pilots often cross from here to Cooks Terrace.

Landing

HG: At the northern end of the beach near the end of the road.

PG: Warriewood beach. Top landing in the clear area to the left of launch is a relatively easy, however take care in strong conditions as the bushes in front generate some turbulence. Top landing on the launch is possible but requires accurate flying. In either case do NOT fly over the road.

Flight

Lower Level Airspace at 2500'. Don't fly over the houses.

Hazards/Comments

HG: Power lines along the road between the surf club and toilet block on the beach. If you start to see "darkies" or wind gusts on the water behind Mona Vale Headland whilst in flight consider the need to land soon, this signifies that the breeze is veering to the north. Pilots making the return run from Cooks Terrace will come around the Northern end of the ridge quite low and cannot be seen from the take off.

PG: It's a long way to the beach if the wind is light. Don't cross onto the main face until your body is level with the sandstone lookout. Lower down on the face there is a often a dead zone and you may find you are not climbing, it's truly a long way back to the beach from this situation. If the wind moves to the north, the landing on Warriewood beach becomes affected by rotor from the Cooks Terrace headland. Pilots making the return run from Cooks Terrace will come around the northern end of the ridge quite low and cannot be seen from the take off.