Western Australia > Wheatbelt
Mount Bakewell (top launches)
|840ft / 255m agl
|PG: Supervised with Advanced Supervision / Intermediate with Site Induction; HG: Intermediate theory + 15 hours
Mt Bakewell is near York in the Avon valley, about 1.5 hours drive east of Perth. Access requires a 4WD or a long climb on foot. If you haven't been here before, contact HGAWA, organise your first flight with a club member who has good knowledge of this site. Access to this site is through private land. The site is very sensitive and could easily be lost. All pilots are required to log in at the box by the house, donations for the landowner can also be left at the box ($2 suggested). It is recommended to advise the skydiving operation of flying operations before you go up the hill. It is not compulsory to contact the owner of the access road, but it is polite to do so occasionally, especially if you see him while passing through the property. There is a strict 30km/h speed limit on the access track at the owners request. Please respect his wishes and keep your speed very low. Walking pace is an appropriate speed near the house and sheds. Please refer to lower launch access details if accessing the top launches via that property. Please engage 4WD on the track to minimise damage to the track, and observe the 30kph speed limit (much slower near the house). Access is now also possible from the lower launch.
Landowners - ?
ContactHGAWA , Rod Merrigan (0439 967 971)
ResponsibleHill Flyers (0412 611 680), Cloudbase (0407 700 378)
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.
There are three launch options on the top of Bakewell, as well as the lower (Lou's) launch.
- 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.
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.
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.