Australia: Complete guide to 1999 Down Under

DOWN UNDER 1999
By Carol Binder

Us pilots generally prefer warmth to anything else on earth. To have our wings with us is a bonus. Australian flying is diverse with inland mountain sites such at Mt Buffalo gorge, Canungra, and Blackheath, thousands of kilometres of outback which is being used more and more to set world records along side our record breaking coastal runs and fantastic height gains in Morning Glory conditions. Where else would you want to be this New Year?

Get yerself a Rust Bucket!
Australia is a cheap place since the fall of the Australian Dollar. The usual way of getting around for a few months of flying is to buy a typical Aussie ’Rust Bucket’ usually in the form of a family station wagon or small coaster vehicle. You can pick a good late 70’s early 80’s wagon for around $1000 – $3000, but it’s not uncommon to rock up at a flying site in a $500 legend vehicle either.

A good place to find these vehicles is privately through the Trading Post free paper or by fronting up at a youth hostel. Someone somewhere is always trying to sell their seen it all vehicle. All you need to do is check out if the car is actually the owner’s (check with the NRMA), register it into your name then insure it.

Australia is a free country. Camping and hostelling is very affordable. In your own car you can stop at one of the hundreds of surf clubs along the East, West and Southern coastlines, where you will find shower and toilet facilities, not to mention some of the best sun rises and sunsets in the world.

HGFA Requirements
Don’t be a dingbat. If you want to fly in Australia, you must .take out Visiting Pilot Membership with the HGFA. A VPM ticket will cost you $50, less than a good round of slabbies. Overseas qualifications are fair dinkum, but our VPS provides insurance coverage to $10 million with a $1000 excess for any claims.

Getting yourself an IPPI card from your national association will help you on our sites. VPM membership can be obtained from selected schools and instructors, Stanwell Park Hang Gliding Shop, Bright Hikers, Moyes and Airborne, some clubs, competition directors and direct from the HGFA office.

Remember our Country Code: we are all dependent on good relations with the farmers who own the land we fly on. Here are some guideleines to ensure that you and other pilots will be able to continue to fly. Always check with local pilots before flying at new sites. Leave gates as you find them. Avoid landing in paddocks containing crops or stock. Do not light fires. Leave no rubbish. Many of our sites are subjected to airspace restriction. Do not forget to check procedure with local pilots.

AUSTRALIAN EVENTS

Inaugural Sky Surfing Extravaganza
PG/HG/Trike 27 Dec – 2 Jan, Laurieton, NSW. Lee Scott
ph: 02 65565265, email: highadv@midcoast.com.au

Kiewa Valley Fly-In (HG & PG)- 27 Dec 98-2 Jan 99, Mt Beauty, VIC J. McLaren ph: 03 57544910, email: jmclaren@albury.net.au

Forbes Flatlands 98 (HG) – 29 Dec 98-5 Jan 99 Forbes, NSW Vicki Cain ph: 02 93164644. Email:moyes@ip.net.au

1999 Bogong Cup (HG) 7-16 Jan 99 Mt Beauty, VIC J. McLaren ph: 03 57544910 email:jmclaren@albury.net.au

Corryong Cup HG Competition 17-23 Jan 99, Corryong, VIC Ruth & Graeme Garlick

Alpine Open PG Competition 23-31 Jan 99 Bright PO Box 238, Bright 3741, email: alpcomp@netc.net.au

Australian Open HG Championship 22 – 29th Jan, 99 Wyalkatchem, WA Sam Blight 08 93363738 (day), Gordon Marshall 08 94519969 (h), http://argo.net.au/garyb/ index1.htm

Corryong Paragliding Cup 13-20th February (21st as reserve) Rohan Holtkamp Ph 0353 492 845 Mobile 040 967 8734

1999 Australian Paragliding Championships 6th – 13th March 1999 Manilla NSW Godfrey Wenness Ph 0267 85 65 45, Fax 0267 85 65 46

Birchip Flatland Paragliding Competitions 28th March – 3rd April 1999 Rob Lithgow, Ph 0352 612 85

1999 Victorian HG Open 7-13 Mar 99, Corryong, VIC
Wesley Hill 018 305943, email: whill@nm.com

NEW ZEALAND EVENTS

NZ Club Paragliding Championships Nelson, Mike McManaway, ph (03)5472548 Dates: 2nd – 5th January 1999

Auckland Paragliding Competition Warkworth, Peter Crighton
ph (09)4459988 Dates: 30th Jan – 2nd Feb

Southern Lakes Paragliding Competition Wanaka, Byran Moore ph (025)2815950
Dates: 4th – 7th Feb

New Zealand Paragliding Nationals Manilla, Australia,
Ross Johnstone (03)3849667 Dates: 27th Feb – 5th March 1999

NZ Hang Gliding Championships
Nelson, Feb 14- 22. contact Andrew Stirling (03) 548 2959 or Noel tait (03) 547 4174.

New Zealand Requirements
Overseas pilots will be given a NZ equivalent rating on presentation of their existing licences and/or Log books. Beginner, Novice and PG1 pilots are required to fly with a red streamer attached to the king post (HG) or the harness (PG)

Expected 98-99 Summer Conditions
La Nina – the controlling influence: Most people would at least have heard of ’El Nino’, the atmospheric condition that brought the recent drought to much of Australia.

Of course the drought has broken over much of the country now (though NW Victoria is still very dry), and this is because the atmosphere has flipped to the opposite mode of the see-saw cycle known as the Southern Oscillation.

We are now in what is known as the ’La Nina’ phase, and as you may have guessed, this brings generally wet weather to eastern Australia. It’s no surprise that we’ve seen the severe flooding in N.S.W over the last 3 months – the current La Nina is becoming quite strong and is often associated with very heavy rains in that area.

It also usually brings an early start to the north Australian summer monsoon. La Nina is expected to persist through into early next year.

So, how will the La Nina affect the coming summer in Australia? With the expected early start to the monsoon in northern Australia, its likely that November and early December will see some pretty active thunderstorms in the region, with the chance of hail, flash flooding and damaging winds higher than normal.

Of course this doesn’t mean that the whole period will see a raging tempest, but there should be quite a few days, perhaps 10 or more, over this late spring/ early summer period where thunderstorms affect some part of NE Victoria.

By the middle summer, things should settle down a bit, with some extended periods of fine sunny weather interspersed with two or three days of thunderstorms or rain, before then next fine period sets in.

Winds should generally be lighter than we experienced last summer, with long periods of light winds, even when rain is about. Its likely that cloud cover will be higher than normal, especially in the afternoons, with plenty of cumulus about to mark thermals for anyone gliding.

The more active rain events expected this coming summer doesn’t necessarily mean it will be colder than normal though – in fact, there is some indication that it will be a little warmer than normal in NE Victoria, especially at night when the humid air and extra cloud cover will trap the day’s heat.

The usual settled weather of late summer is likely to continue to be disrupted by occasional thunderstorms and rain, with warm sticky conditions continuing.

So overall, a tropical summer is coming up. With the increased thunderstorm and rain activity, always obtain the latest weather information before planning the day’s activities. There’ll be plenty of bright sunny summer days to enjoy too of course – even a wet summer in NE Victoria sees more sunny days than not.

Published in issue 60 of Cross Country magazine.


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