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 with grass slope above. Grass area slopes away from cliff edge. Best in ENE as it allows flights along ridge above beach without turbulence from Bungan Headland. Strictly PG5 (not recommended for HG) 100' / 30m
Cooks Terrace Sydney's Northern Beaches. Coastal Cliff HG: NE-E, PG: East. Site will accommodate ENE to ESE for PG2. PG4 rated pilots may fly NE ridge in NE wind direction. PG4 with the following exceptions:
  • PG2/PG3 but only after approval from a trained SPHGC Safety Officer or a Duty Pilot before each launch.
  • PG2 need direct on-ground supervision from a trained SPHGC Safety Officer or a Duty Pilot during the period of their operations.
HG Advanced.
130' / 40m
Long Reef NE Sydney's Northern Beaches. Moderately steep coastal hill. North East PG2 (as per SAFA requirements) / HG Supervised 100' / 30m
Long Reef SE Sydney's Northern Beaches. Steep coastal hill, covered in grass, scrub and shale. South to South East PG2/3 under the supervision of an SPHGC Safety Officer or SPHGC Duty Pilot. HG Advanced 30m / 100' AMSL
Mona Vale Sydney's Northern Beaches. Coastal Cliff with grass slope above. Narrow chute launch between low trees on cliff edge. South to South East. Flight characteristics change with slight wind direction variation. Best in S-SSE. Do not launch in SSW due to rotor from upwind headlands and beachside trees. PG4 (not recommended for HG) 66' / 20m
Newport Sydney's Northern Beaches. Small coastal cliff plus high coastal hill. South to South East PG4 in front of the road. Otherwise PG5. HG Intermediate. 80' / 25m
Turimetta Sydney's Northern Beaches. Mixture of coastal cliffs and steeply sloping faces with many knolls South East but will tolerate ESE PG4 / HG Intermediate 60' / 20m
Warriewood Sydney's Northern Beaches. Coastal Cliff North East. Does not tolerate too much deviation from straight on at launch before flying characteristics change. PG4 / HG Intermediate 130' / 40m
New South Wales - Northern Beaches

Bungan

This is a highly rewarding site to fly with usually great lift and with the option to connect with Cooks Terrace.

This is a sheer cliff site with no landing options immediately below the cliff. There is a strong vertical component to the wind as it comes over the ridge. The ground slopes down and away from the cliff edge resulting in rotor from many directions. A deceptive site with a very difficult take-off and with a bomb out on Bungan Beach some distance away with only water and rocks in between. Contact a Club Safety Officer before flying this site for the first time. If they advise that conditions are not right to launch then take their advice. There are alternative sites not far away.

The launch spot is on the upper part of the North Mona Vale headland Reserve and is accessible by short walk from the end of Hillcrest Ave. If you have not flown this site before then do not plan on a top landing. See description in Landing section. Expect a walk back to your car or plan ahead and leave a second car on Mona Vale beach. This is an exhilarating site but it has its challenges. Please use caution and do not launch other than in ideal conditions. This is a site for experienced PG5 pilots.

Takeoff

Rotor can come from either left, right or behind on launch. It is difficult to get you wing up and most success has been achieved at the western end of the reserve with the wing pointed NW. Excellent ground handling skills are required as it is likely you will be lifted from the ground as the wing bites into the wind coming up the cliff face. Make sure you are airborne before crossing the fence and shrubs on the cliff edge. You are advised not to pull your wing up too close to the edge as pilots have been launched off the edge before being ready.

Landing

Top landing zone in the reserve is not recommended and is extremely difficult. If you attempt this stay well forward on the ridge. While this takes you away from the rotor downslope from the ridge it also puts you in the compression zone. The combination of compression from the sheer cliff and the ground sloping down and away from the cliff edge means that there is turbulence. The safer option is a beach landing. And frankly it is more fun.

Primary landing area is on Mona Vale Beach after turning south around the tip of the headland. Stay clear of the Mona Vale ocean pool as there is an electricity wire extending from the Surf Club to the pool lighting post. Ensure you leave yourself enough height to turn back into the wind as you track along Mona Vale Beach. If the wind has turned more north then avoid the turbulence from the headland and land well south if possible. It is not recommended in any conditions to land on the Basin Beach (north of the MV Ocean Pool).

Landing is possible on Bungan beach but it can be affected by turbulence especially if the wind is north of ENE. Bungan beach is also a long crosswind reach if you find yourself low on the ridge and landing in the water is a real possibility. Bungan beach is generally not patrolled.

Flight

Lower Level of controlled airspace is at 2500'.

Hazards/Comments

Please read all of the above.

  • Launch can be difficult due to turbulence and will be different depending on minor wind direction variations.
  • Be careful in getting caught in ridge compression as wind becomes stronger. Take the early option to land before you find yourself over the back with reduced safe landing options.
  • If you are getting below ridge height then head for Bungan beach while you can still reach it. Do not turn back to the point thinking that there will be more lift there - it is further from Bungan Beach.
  • Top landing can be full of surprises including a quick elevator down as you get low. Only top land if you are experienced at the site and can control your wing into tight areas.
  • When flying in front of the houses on the ridge please maintain separation, 25m horizontally and 100' vertically. Watch out for the large Norfolk pines on the western end of the ridge.
New South Wales - Northern Beaches

Cooks Terrace

A.k.a. Robert Dunn Reserve. 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. During busy days a Duty pilots will manage flying activities, launching, ground handling and duration of each pilot's flight. Pilots are asked to share the air. Due to site sensitivity, please maintain 25m separation from houses and remember this is a popular public shared space. Best behavior please.

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 or launch from the low wooden fence. Be aware that at the northern end of the cliff, the circuit direction may vary based on conditions. Speak to a duty pilots for advice. Be aware of this possibility.

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 in front of the hospital helipad is an excellent landing area when the wind is E, ENE or NE. Due to the slope exercise caution when the wind is ESE and do not land in the park when the wind is SE. Top landing is suitable for experienced pilots. Always remain east of the road. Non-experienced pilots should seek advice. 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.

  • The Safety Signs and Cones and Wind sock, at Long Reef and Cooks Terrace should be used at all times that flying operations are underway - not just when it begins to get busy. Take the time to prepare the safety of the area before you fly. These signs/cones/windsock are in the lock boxes at launch. If you don't know how to access these safety tools then ask your colleagues. The last person at the site is to return the safety tools to the lock boxes. Yes, even if you are the only one there please install the safety tools before flying.
  • Before Launching make sure that there is no members of the public behind launch.
  • Before top landing make sure there is no members of the public behind your landing area and assess clearly whether you have the skills to top land in the prevailing conditions. If not head for the beach - it is easier and safer and your colleagues will quietly applaud your good decision making.
  • Observe the SAFA separation rules from members of the public and buildings. Exemption to these rules comes with a set of conditions and these require assessment of the potential danger to a person on the ground and assessment that the operations can always be carried out safely. Accidents always happen very quickly! If you want to practice manoeuvres then move away from the public and buildings. Sure it may be cool to be flying low and "entertaining the crowd" but it is not smart in a public area despite how much you think you are in control. In other words do not spend your flight swooping low near launch or in the front of buildings.
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 a 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.

Weather station

Takeoff

Paragliders launch from a 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

The primary landing zones are the beach in front of launch and the sand spit on the point when the tide is not high. However, at high tide the area of sand is rather narrow. Anywhere on Fisherman's Beach (the long crescent beach to the NW) which is easily reached when winds are moderate and the easiest place to land when winds are strong. No landing on the grass in front of the golf club-house. Watch the pine trees though, their lower branches reach out over the sand. Avoid the boat launch which is a raised concrete ramp! Do not pack up your wing next to the clubhouse. The top landing zone is small, surrounded by trees and frequented by walkers and tourists. Only land on top if experienced and well briefed. Beware that due to compression it is easy to be blown behind the trees or ridge.

Flight

Lower Level of controlled airspace is at 2500'.

Hazards/Comments

NE winds can rapidly increase during the day giving more lift, however, beware of the increased compression and wind velocity on top of the ridge. Stay well in front of the ridge and land early-particularly south of the launch. Strong compression results in lack of penetration on top of the ridge and an inability to fly forward towards a safe landing. Do not top-land when strong, better on the spit or Fishermans Beach but be prepared to actively control your wing upon landing. Be prepared to share the air with radio-controlled aircraft and sometimes hang gliders. The site will handle wind direction from the NNE and ENE but it changes the lift characteristics along the ridge. For wind directions outside of this range pilots are advised to fly elsewhere.

  • The Safety Signs and Cones and Wind sock, at Long Reef and Cooks Terrace should be used at all times that flying operations are underway - not just when it begins to get busy. Take the time to prepare the safety of the area before you fly. These signs/cones/windsock are in the lock boxes at launch. If you don't know how to access these safety tools then ask your colleagues. The last person at the site is to return the safety tools to the lock boxes. Yes, even if you are the only one there please install the safety tools before flying.
  • Before Launching make sure that there is no members of the public behind launch.
  • Before top landing make sure there is no members of the public behind your landing area and assess clearly whether you have the skills to top land in the prevailing conditions. If not head for the beach - it is easier and safer and your colleagues will quietly applaud your good decision making.
  • Observe the SAFA separation rules from members of the public and buildings. Exemption to these rules comes with a set of conditions and these require assessment of the potential danger to a person on the ground and assessment that the operations can always be carried out safely. Accidents always happen very quickly! If you want to practice manoeuvres then move away from the public and buildings. Sure it may be cool to be flying low and "entertaining the crowd" but it is not smart in a public area despite how much you think you are in control. In other words do not spend your flight swooping low near launch or in the front of buildings.
New South Wales - Northern Beaches

Long Reef SE

A curved ridge facing SSE with a steep to very steep slope. The ridge runs from the beach level on the western end, up to the crown of the headland and then turns slightly SE down to sea level at the eastern end. It is covered in a mixture of tussock grass and low bush, exposed rock and shale.

This is a good site to build up your hours with easy ridge soaring and great views down to Manly. Take care, southerly winds can be gusty with changing conditions.

Not often flown by hang gliders as it's a fair walk to carry your kit.

Weather station

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 slopes backwards away from the ridge which may make launching for less experienced pilots difficult except in ideal conditions and with assistance. When the wind is straight on one option is to bring the wing up while you are a few steps down the ridge (goat track) that goes over the edge. This can be tricky and you will need a spotter to check for pedestrian traffic. When the wind is a little more south then this option may be difficult and it is recommended to lay your wing out on the northern side of the path and bring it up from there. Remember pedestrians have the right of way and be courteous. Other launch options are a sideways launch or cobra. Because the ridge rises toward the east, pilots flying eastwards tend to be lower and may need to hug the ridge. Those flying west are usually higher and often pass further out from the ridge. This is the opposite of normal right of way rules so please do not force your right of way in these circumstances.

Landing

A planned landing on the beach to the south west is the easiest option. If you get low then it is possible to bomb out on the various narrow bits of sand and tidal rock shelf in front of the take-off. 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 and even worse endanger yourself. Be ready to get out of your harness in these circumstances. When landing toward the western end beach there is a low spur which intersects the beach and this must be taken into account if selecting a beach landing - make sure you have the height to miss the spur. There is a sandy beach during low tide at the eastern extremity of the ridge which presents a landing option, however there is some compression around the point.

PG: Top landing is relatively easy however do not drift back too far over the golf course as the backward sloping nature around the launch means some rotor is present. You can avoid this by setting up to land in front of the path. If conditions become strong and penetration is not possible then make distance toward the southwest away from the higher ridge and land on the golf course. This is for emergency landing only.

Flight

Lower Level of controlled airspace is at 2500'.

Hazards/Comments

The two main hazards with this site are the launch (Takeoff above) and the small areas to land below the launch at high tide (see Landing above). Check the tide before launching and be prepared to wait until you are sure conditions will support above the ridge soaring.

In moderate conditions, launching from the top is difficult. An alternative is launching from the goat track, however good ground handling skills are essential. On launching, the steep slope means that your wing may overshoot. You need to be prepared to check it early. The normal approach is to kite the wing (often from a bundled launch) and walk, assisted by the wing, back up the slope (in the goat track) onto level ground before turning and launching. However in stronger conditions be prepared to launch from the goat track and even launch before you have turned.

When the wind is from the west of south, conditions become more gusty and the lift becomes uneven, it is strongly recommended that pilots do not fly this site in these conditions.

PG2/3 Conditions

PG2/3 pilots must have supervision from a club SO who will assess the conditions ie tide, wind direction/strength.

New South Wales - Northern Beaches

Mona Vale

This is a small technical but fun site with limited air space and affected by compression. In light conditions there is airspace for only two wings and not many more in stronger conditions. Vegetation growth over recent years has introduced rotor in the launch and top landing zones and care must be taken to line up with the narrow chute during launch and top landing. The cliff edge faces S at the western end and bends more toward the south east at the seaward end. Care should be taken when flying the extremities of the cliff to avoid horizontal compression and penetration issues. As wind goes more SE launch and landing conditions can be tricky. Contact a Club Safety Officer before flying this site for the first time.

The launch spot is on the lower part of the North Mona Vale headland Reserve and is accessible by short walk along a pathway from the end of Grandview Pde. Do not try and launch from the upper part of the reserve particularly in strong conditions as the consequences of being blown over the back, over a sheer cliff are not nice. You will end up in the water.

This is a fun site in the right conditions and one of only two sites which are flyable in a southerly. Always assess conditions from the cliff end of the chute as they can be completely different to conditions in the grassed area. Observe the wind in the trees surrounding the grass area to assess wind direction and strength above the tree line. Either end of the soarable ridge will be affected by compression as the wind wraps around the periphery. Be alert to changes in wind direction and being caught out with lack of penetration.

Takeoff

A small chute is maintained by pilots to enable launch but this is still tricky. There are large tufts of native grasses which makes it tougher. Spread your wing behind the pathway and directly in line with the chute. In light conditions move further back to allow the wing to inflate as you walk backwards. In stronger conditions your wing will pull you back as it inflates - be ready for this as the wing rises above the tree top line. Make sure you have your wing under control before launching.

If the wind direction is SE then wing inflation is made harder as the wind through the chute will not be direct. In these conditions laying the wing out to the west of the launch chute will be necessary and working hard to bring the wing above the tree line. Once your wing is inflated you may need to fly sideways through the chute.

If you are not flying by the time you get to the path it is probably not soarable so abort your launch. Pilots need to be confident of their launch ability in tight conditions and their ability to control the wing as they fly through the launch chute. Assess your immediate turn direction based on wind direction and in light conditions remember the beach is to the right.

Landing

Primary landing area is on the Basin beach at the western end of the cliff and this is always a safe option especially in high wind conditions. The beach landing can still be challenging in high wind condition due to a wind funneling behind the beach and through a park reserve. There are no landing options below the cliff.

The top landing zone is the launch area. It is small and surrounded by trees. Final approach needs to be directly aligned with the chute to avoid as much turbulence as possible. Only land on top if experienced and well briefed. Beware that due to compression it is easy to be blown behind the grass area. As you get lower you will be in a more protected zone and may come down quickly and in turbulence. Due to shape of the headland it is suggested that top landing approaches are from the west.

Flight

Lower Level of controlled airspace is at 2500'

Hazards/Comments

Please read all of the above.

  • Launch can be tricky due to turbulence from surrounding trees and will be different depending on wind direction.
  • Be careful of getting caught in horizontal compression at either end of the ridge. Use sound judgement based on wind direction.
  • Be careful in getting caught in ridge compression as wind becomes stronger. Take the early option to land before you find yourself over the back and in the water.
  • Top landing can be full of surprises including a quick elevator down as you get low. Only top land if you are experienced at the site.
New South Wales - Northern Beaches

Newport

A.k.a. Eric Green Reserve. A South to South East facing cliff, with a grassy park above the beach.

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: 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. When the breeze is too far to the south for safe soaring, 'darkies' appear on the water behind Bungan Headland. Don't cross over the road until you have 100' (30m) above it. Keep in mind that the only safe landing option is the beach. PG5 pilots who go into the bowl west of launch and south of the water tank should exercise caution.

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 (PG4), and the much larger hill above (PG5). Hang gliders: To undertake the run up the coast, you need an east south east breeze. Lower Level of controlled airspace is 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.

The launch is very small with trees close by, you need to be good at ground handling to fly this site. There is a sewer vent pipe below launch. There are power lines on the side of Barrenjoey road. Care should be taken in going too far north of launch with respect to penetrating back to the beach in strong wind. Permanent beach volleyball nets on beach should be avoided.

New South Wales - Northern Beaches

Turimetta

A complex set of cliffs and slopes make what appears to be a simple site quite tricky with compression and rotor in various places depending on the wind direction and strength.

Takeoff

A small grassy park. Most pilots choose to head along the cliff to the right of launch (S). Take care not to get in too close behind the first knoll as there is much rotor. This is less severe in ESE wind direction. Do not try to cross the knoll down low and hug the cliff face expecting lift. The better option is to land on the beach and launch again when conditions are more favourable.

Landing

On the beach in front of launch. Top landing is possible but requires accurate flying. Do not fly over the road as there is power lines on the western side. Be aware of parked cars and pedestrians.

Flight

A tricky site with a lot of changes in direction of the cliff face. Cliffs to the south of Launch chute face more E while to the north the cliffs face SE. Sufficient height required to cross from N-S. Lower Level of controlled 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 effected by rotor and vice versa. When on the northern cliff face it is a fair way back to the beach. Always ensure that you have sufficient height to reach the beach landing before committing to the northern cliff. There is no landing option in front of the northern cliff. 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 ESE the launch can be in rotor and you may experience difficulty inflating your canopy. This is a deceptive site that looks very benign but has a lot of hazards.
New South Wales - Northern Beaches

Warriewood

A North East facing cliff, with a lower section on the north-western end that is less steep and covered in coastal scrub and a higher vertical cliff face towards the south eastern end. Pilots fly over the 'blow hole', a sea cavern that runs through part of the headland.

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. Check beach for tide and whether beach is crowded before launching. Top landing in the clear area to the left of launch, 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

An enjoyable site, however this site catches out more pilots than any other site - be cautious. Water landing is dangerous. 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 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.