Australian National Site Guide - Wheatbelt

When printing, you might find that Firefox doesn't print correctly - Chrome, Internet Explorer and Safari seem to work better.

You can save this page (File -> Save Page As...) to your hard drive for offline browsing.

Western Australia - Wheatbelt - 9 sites

Map of Wheatbelt sites
Name Location Type Conditions Rating Height
Mount Bakewell (lower launch) 90km east of Perth. Inland Ridge SSE-SSW PG: Supervised with Advanced Supervision / Intermediate with Site Induction; HG: Intermediate theory + 15 hours 400ft / 120m agl
Mount Bakewell (top launches) 90km east of Perth. Inland Ridge E-S PG: Supervised with Advanced Supervision / Intermediate with Site Induction; HG: Intermediate theory + 15 hours 840ft / 255m agl
Westonia Tow Paddocks Near Westonia. Towing HG/PG/WM/PPG All PG2 / HG Supervised 350m asl
White Lakes Farm, Toodyay 70km northeast of Perth. Inland Ridge SE PG: Intermediate with Site Induction / HG: Intermediate theory + 15 hours 70ft / 20m agl
Windmill Hill, Toodyay 70km northeast of Perth. Inland Ridge NW PG: Intermediate with Site Induction; HG: Advanced (not recommended) 300ft / 90m agl
Wyalkatchem 200km east of Perth. Tow Paddock Any PG2 / HG Supervised
York - Greenhills Towing 100km east of Perth. Tow Paddock All PG2 / HG Supervised
York Airstrip 100km east of Perth. Airstrip towing NE/SW PG2 / HG Supervised
York Silos - Gwambygine Hill 70km northeast of Perth. Inland Ridge NE PG: Supervised; HG: Intermediate theory + 15 hours 200ft / 60m agl
Western Australia - Wheatbelt

Mount Bakewell (lower launch)

This alternative launch on Mt Bakewell is much lower than the top launch, but has easier road access from takeoff to bomb out, making it more popular with hanglider pilots. It can also provide a safer launch when the wind is south or SSW or strong.

Landing

Landing is directly in front of launch beside Lou's driveway. If paragliders encounter sink they may be unable to safely cross the powerlines and be forced to land to the left of the house.

Flight

Because the launch is so low with trees in front it is necessary for paragliders to launch into a thermal or exceptionally good wind conditions if you are to get up. Hang-gliders are able to fly the site more easily in conditions too strong for paragliders.

Once flying try to work up the ridge to the summit.

Otherwise the same as Bakewell top launch.

Hazards/Comments

As with any inland site this hill can feature strong lift, strong sink and turbulence.

The launch is very small with a tree on the right and many trees in front. Glide out over the trees in front is marginal on a paraglider, so a launch into lifting air is very desirable.

The spur to the left of takeoff can generate rotor on launch in an ESE wind and disguise the true wind direction.

There is a powerlines in front of launch to the left of the house.

Map information

map
Western Australia - Wheatbelt

Mount Bakewell (top launches)

Probably the best thermalling hill within 1000km of Perth, nice high takeoff, and good cross country possibilities. Can be dangerous due to some very violent thermals in summer, also adorned with numerous antennas. Very sensitive site due to some surrounding landowners and council. Has been lost to paragliders before. There are three launches and it is important to use the correct launch for the conditions.

Takeoff

There are three launch options on the top of Bakewell, as well as the lower (Lou's) launch.

These are

  • Top (East South East) Launch
  • Middle (South) Launch
  • Bowl launch (not recommended)

The top launch is generally preferred and is the biggest launch area. It is best with an ESE wind direction, but is usable as far around between east and south-east. If the wind is from the SSE there may be rotor in front of launch. If the wind is strong from the south then conditions may appear perfect on the ESE launch when they are far from it – check the wind on the bowl or S launch too, if the wind is howling up the bowl and gentle on the ESE launch it is because the ESE launch is in rotor. It is usually easier to inflate a paraglider as far back from the edge as possible, the airflow near the edge causes the glider to overshoot and requires a sharp run toward the edge before the glider is flying properly.

The middle (south) launch takes wind directions from south east to south and is best on a south south easterly. It is safe and pleasant in SSE conditions when the top launch is in rotor, but is a little lower.

The Bowl launch faces SSE and is conveniently located to the main top launch, but is very small and committing with a cliff in front and surrounded by trees. It is recommended that this take off not be used, the middle launch provides a safer alternative. If you choose to use the bowl launch be particularly wary of rotor on the takeoff, which is in a gully. The wind can appear to be coming up the gully when in fact it is coming from the southwest. Expect severe rotor in this gully if the wind is from the southwest or southeast and do not launch if you are not sure the wind is correct. Even in good conditions the bowl takeoff is difficult due to limited space and the cliff. On a paraglider expect to be lifted off the ground before turning if there is wind. It may not be possible to abort a launch once started so make sure everything is right before inflating. It can be difficult on a hangglider as well as the cliff launch creates a pocket of dead air where the glider is.

Landing

Preferred landing area is on the Racecourse, if you can't make it there the paddock in front of the ESE launch, east of the powerline was available for landing in 2004 when not under crop. (Check current access before landing). The racecourse is a decent glide away, so with a paraglider you really need to head out as soon as you drop below take off height. The gravel pit is also an authorised landing area, but is very small, and surrounded by non-landable paddock and trees and parrot bush and old crushing machinery. It is only suitable for intermediate plus paraglider pilots with good spot landing skills, it is not recommended for hanggliders. Hanggliders also often use the landing field below the lower launch.

Do not land on the property in front of take off to the right of the gravel pit; you may cause loss of access to this site.

Flight

Thermals may be very strong; in thermic conditions the thermals will generally overwhelm ridge lift. If you are sinking out, flying away from the hill and trying to connect with a thermal in front is often more effective and is much safer than scratching close to the hill side. In light winds thermals will pop off from the tree line and may not come over take off, so nil wind launches may be required to connect with thermals in front. The gravel pit, the bowl, and the knoll on the ridge to the east of the S takeoff all provide relatively good thermal triggers. The site works best with a reasonable amount of wind to bring thermals onto the hill from the flatlands ESE winds produce little ridge lift but bring the thermals in nicely.

Airspace limit is 8500ft.

Often in summer you will get evening glass off or "magic lift" in the evenings where a huge area of smooth lift extends in front of the hill, making for perfect soaring conditions on the hill. The site is suitable for novices in these conditions with suitable supervision from advanced pilots with experience of the site. Good skills are still required to launch due to the cliff launch. Due to the steep face a delicate touch is required to inflate a paraglider in stronger winds, as the glider will surge as it comes through the wind gradient if not controlled.

Site Records: PG: Open distance 168km Mike Dufty Feb 2003; HG:Open distance 290km Ray Chatfield Feb 1984.

Hazards/Comments

As with any inland site this hill can feature strong lift, strong sink and turbulence. Beware of powerlines and aerials, with attendant guy wires near the top launch. In addition to the obvious powerlines on the spur to the right of the east-southeast launch there is another running up the gully to the left of launch, this powerline has very few poles and is very difficult to spot.

There is a strip of paddock in front of launch west of the powerline and east of the gravel pit access. This is not a permitted landing area, as the constriction of powerlines and trees on three sides and a significant slope mean it is easy to get into trouble if your approach is not perfect.

The gravel pit landing is very small and has numerous large painful obstacles it should only be used by intermediate pilots. All pilots should inspect the gravel pit on the ground before flying Bakewell for the first time.

There is a large commercial skydiving operation behind the hill. Watch out for the plane and don't fly over the airfield, which is also the drop zone. It's a good idea to check in at the skydivers before flying to let them know you are in the area.

Map information

map
Western Australia - Wheatbelt

Westonia Tow Paddocks

Private tow paddocks managed by the Goldfields Dust Devils and flown with the informal permission of the land owner.

Western Australia - Wheatbelt

White Lakes Farm, Toodyay

Light wind novice site near Toodyay.

Takeoff

Generally good, in clear farmland. If wind is more easterly, be very careful, as there can be a lot of turbulence behind the hills in front. Always check the true wind direction at a high point.

Landing

The ground is all sloping and winds can be quite variable on the ground. Use a windsock. Glide angle can change very rapidly with patches of lift and sink. Your landing position will rarely be where you think it will be. Watch out for stock (in particular the bulls).

Flight

The site is situated in a large bowl, with hills of various heights surrounding it. This site is good when the wind is relatively light - generating some ridge lift and good thermal development. There are many trees and fences (some electric) to be aware of and some power lines.

Hazards/Comments

This is a good novice site although the continuous downwards slope can be a little intimidating for those who have never landed on a slope before. The paddocks are small with lots of fences. The top strand is electric. As with all small sites that may give limited lift, be sure to take in all the obstacles by having a good walk around the site before you fly.

Wind flow will never be completely uninterrupted and any associated turbulence will be worse in proportion with the wind strength. The area can be very rough in spring, summer and autumn.

Western Australia - Wheatbelt

Windmill Hill, Toodyay

This stunning house perched above Toodyay used to belong to a Cloudbase club member, but no longer does. It's a small site spoilt by powerlines and restricted landing options.

Takeoff

Nice grassy takeoff.

Landing

Apart from the powerlines it's not too bad, can be turbulent due to the railway, trees and hills in front in stronger winds. Normally if the wind's still blowing you can top land on the nice takeoff area. One of the few sites where a top landing is safer than a bottom landing.

Flight

This site is quite small, it can very easily become crowded in light conditions. There are numerous dead trees on the face that could catch lines, harness etc. if scratching too close, a power line up the ridge, and the landing here is a serious business due to the powerlines. Expect rough thermic conditions in summer, especially in strong winds due to the hills in front. Aside from that it's quite good fun, with a fantastic view down the Avon Valley to Toodyay.

Site records: The tree behind takeoff.

Hazards/Comments

As all inland sites, this site has the potential to be treacherous. The site at its best requires a northwesterly wind. The most obvious hazard here is the powerlines. There is a high-tension powerline running across the base of the hill to a power pole near the shed, and then up the face to the house. The powerline to the house lies directly across the normal ridge soaring flight path and is very hard to see. Don't fly to the right of the gully unless you can see the powerlines. The powerlines also cuts across the landing area at the bottom of the hill. Be sure you know where they are and plan a landing area before taking off. The landing area also has a downhill slope. Do not fly this site unless you know you can land exactly where you want to. If you have enough height it is possible to fly over the powerlines and land near the dam. The landing areas are not suitable for hanggliders due to limited space and slope.
Western Australia - Wheatbelt

Wyalkatchem

Towing paddocks 200km east of Perth, base of operations for the Western Soarers Club. Location of state soaring championships competition.

Although a daily log in is not generally required at any of these sites, the paddocks are not always available. If in any doubt as to the current permission status for the paddocks contact Western Soarers Hanggliding Club and/or the site owner. Towing on any paddock is not permitted during a total fire ban, paddocks in crop are obviously out of bounds, and paddocks should not be driven on if they are so soft that deep ruts and bogging may occur. John Salmon's place is often locked.

Western Soarers go towing at Wylie most weekends and have a hangar set up at the airfield there, and tow cars. Aerotowing operations are often conducted by Skysports flying school which is based there and teaches hanggliding. Western Soarers have a payout winch and can tow paragliders up. They are happy to share the tow fields with paragliders. To fly in the paddocks Western Soarers have negotiated access to you must be a member of Western Soarers ($10 per year).

The town of Wyalkatchem has an excellent hotel with great meals and cheap rooms, budget bunkhouse accomodation at the railway barracks, a hospital, swimming pool, and is a multiple Australia tidy towns winner.

Flight

Being 200km inland, the thermals can be stronger and higher than around York. This location was chosen by Western Soarers for its perfect location for cross country hanggliding, and the town facilities. You can fly any direction for a long way without hitting airspace, but you may reach the end of civilisation (roads) if you go more than a couple of hundred kilometres northeast. It's flat open farmland for the most part so landings are easy, and there's a good network of gravel roads, but it would pay to have a retrieve driver, there's not a lot of traffic if you were planning to hitch back.

Airspace limit is 10000ft. The WA state soaring championships for hanggliders and paragliders is held here annually.

Site Records:

PG: Open Distance 236km Justin Post Nov 03. Declared Goal 130km Justin Post Nov 03 (State Record). Out and Return 65km Mike Dufty Nov 02 (State Record).

HG: Open Distance 313km Phil Wainwright Nov 02 (State Record). Out & Return 132km Mark Thompson Nov 02 (State Record). Triangle 70km Karl Ruckriegel Feb 02. Declared Goal 261km Phil Wainwright Nov 02 (State Record)

Western Australia - Wheatbelt

York - Greenhills Towing

Several tow paddocks near York are used by Cloudbase for tow operations. Operations are based from a property owned by club member John Salmon where the club tow equipment is typically stored. The property is also well equipped with overnight camping facilities including a fridge.

All these sites are on private property, and may be closed at any time, particularly due to crop, fire hazards or wet ground. Contact Cloudbase paragliding club for detailed directions, current access arrangements, and keys. There are three paddocks in regular use in the Greenhills area.

Although a daily log in is not required at any of these sites, the paddocks are not always available. If in any doubt as to the current permission status for the paddocks contact Cloudbase Paragliding Club and/or the site owner. Towing on any paddock is not permitted during a total fire ban, paddocks in crop are obviously out of bounds, and paddocks should not be driven on if they are so soft that deep ruts and bogging may occur. John Salmon's place is often locked.

Facilities: John has gone to a lot of effort to set this place up to encourage pilots to enjoy some towing and thermalling. There's a shed set up for club members to use for camping, and staying overnight is encouraged.

Permission has recently been obtained to conduct towing operations from the York Airstrip opposite Mt Bakewell. The strip runs NE-SW and is about 1.5 km long. Check with clubs for current status before going there. Also check in with York shire office to check if other air traffic and let the tourist bureau know about it to help promote our sport.

Takeoff

John Salmon's
Drive through York and turn right to Quairading rather that left to head to Northam. At about 24 Km you will find a crossroads with a sign indicating green hills to the left. The left hand road (Penny Road) is bitumen and the right (Greenhill's Road) is dirt, there's a small wooden church before the junction. About 100m past this intersection is the driveway to John's on the right. You will be able to see his house up on the rise. There's usually a streamer on the gate, the house is well back from the Road. Contact the cloudbase club for access details before you go (locked gate).
Penny's (Closed)
Site closed. Paragliding and hanggliding towing from this property is currently not permitted. Near John Salmon's.
Humphrey's
This paddock is several km north of John Salmon's Place. Copes with wet conditions better than Penny's paddock. Check for current access arrangements before going here as the paddock is often closed to flying depending on crops, livestock and fire risk. No Access to this paddock for any pilots (or anyone else) is permitted for the entire fire ban period (2nd week of November to 2nd week of March) every year. If any pilots enter the paddock during this period future access may be denied to all pilots.

Flight

Low areas can become boggy after rain; sandy areas can become boggy in dry conditions. Check on foot before driving if it has rained in the last few days. No smoking in tow paddocks. Do not park vehicles on long grass.

Wind aloft can be much stronger than on the ground. John reckons the most pleasant thermals are around late afternoon/evening in summer. Try to core a thermal and go a very long way before landing.

Airspace limit is 8500ft.

Do not land in crops or near livestock.

Site Records:

PG: Open Distance 69km Mike Dufty Apr 2000. Out & Return 33km Mike Dufty Aug 2001. Declared Goal 45km Mike Dufty Mar 2001.

HG:Open Distance: 160km Steffan Hertling. Out & Return 50km Steve Hoefs. Triangle 140km Gary Wright. Declared Goal 140km Steve Hoefs

Hazards/Comments

Towing can be hazardous if not done properly, only tow if you have the appropriate rating, follow procedures in the HGFA towing manual. In summer dust devils will occur in the paddock, and can be dangerous to anyone hooked to a glider whether in the air, on tow or on the ground. Keep eyes open and warn others if they are seen.
Western Australia - Wheatbelt

York Airstrip

Towing strip.
Restrictions:The York Tourist information centre must be notified on the day of towing operations here, so they can direct any interested tourists to observe operations - this is a strict condition of use of the strip.

Flight

Be aware that this is an operational airstrip. Make space for any aircraft which may be about to use the strip. Airspace limit is 8500ft. The strip is fairly short for towing, and limited to two wind directions.
Western Australia - Wheatbelt

York Silos - Gwambygine Hill

This northeast-facing small rocky hill is mainly used as a training hill but is soarable in the right conditions.

Takeoff

Very small and rocky, with a shallow and rocky slope.

Flight

Because the slope is shallow it is difficult to maintain a safe height. It is recommended this hill is only flown in smooth conditions such as early morning and evenings. Noondeening Hill is a generally better flying site for this wind direction.

Hazards/Comments

As with any inland site this hill can feature strong lift, strong sink and turbulence.