Guide to Bright, Australia

  • One of Australia’s best and most accessible flying sites
  • House thermals set you up for interesting XC routes
  • October to April for XC – but winter flying’s good too
  • Easy outlandings and retrieves.
Thermalling over Mount Feathertop with late season snow still on the peaks. Photo: Brian Webb

Thermalling over Mount Feathertop with late season snow still on the peaks. Photo: Brian Webb

WHY GO?
Banish the northern winter blues and give your year the perfect kickstart.

WHERE IS IT?

WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Known as a town for all seasons, Bright’s tree-lined streets provide summer shade and brilliant colours every day. The house thermals, known as Marcus and Emily, will send you off on any number of interesting XC routes.

The small resort town of Bright sits in the heart of the Australian alpine region, only three hours north of Melbourne. Fifteen minutes away is the launch of Mystic, probably Australia’s most accessible take-off. Mystic faces north (remember you’re in the southern hemisphere) in a north/south valley, so the valley wind is always up the face. After climbing out in one of the house thermals you can fly any way you wish, or wherever the wind blows you. Landing fields and roads in every valley make retrieves and hitching easy, and the journey back to Bright is never very difficult.

The access road is leased and maintained by the local flying club, so you must buy a Mystic flying pass before using this site. Get one at www.nevhgc.net.

FLYING CONDITIONS
Spring and summer thermic conditions are strong but very manageable, with cloudbase relatively high, usually above 2,500m. Narrow valleys make transitions easy even for beginner XC pilots. The region is well suited to big triangles and competition task flying. With no coastal influences and no airspace issues nearby, Bright is the perfect place for a first XC flight, and has also been home to many comps, from local events to the Paragliding World Cup.

WHEN TO GO
October to April are the best XC months. However, winter months also see some spectacular flying above snow-capped mountains, thanks to the mild Australian winters.

ALTITUDE
Launch: 800m
Landing: 430m
Cloudbase: 2,500m+

HANG GLIDER ACCESS
Easily accessible for both hang gliders and paragliders, the launch is big enough for five or more paragliders to launch at the same time.

MUST BE FLOWN
Bright’s classic flight is the “Tour de Bright”. This circumnavigates the town via the ridges that surround it. On really good days consider heading over towards the higher peaks in the region: possible in every season, Mt Buffalo, Mt Hotham or Mt Feathertop are amazing turnpoints, but do require higher bases and light winds.

DANGERS AND ANNOYANCES
Bright really has no problems, which is why it’s one of Australia’s most popular sites. The landings are plentiful, the locals friendly, and there aren’t too many power lines or dangerous weather phenomena. Some of the ridges are densely forested, so tree landings are a risk if pilots fly too deep in on the ridges. Storms can develop quickly in the spring and early summer, but development is obvious.

ACCOMMODATION
The local campground on the edge of town, The Outdoor Inn, is home to many pilots; it’s right next door to the main LZ and the 2WD gravel road to launch. Most pilots use it as their meeting point, and the permanent flying scene organises rides up from here every flyable day of the year.

Bright is a popular tourist town with a wide range of accommodation options including rental houses, hotels, motels, hostels, cabin accommodation and camping.

TAKE THE FAMILY
Bright is a charming town with great pubs, restaurants, cafés, wineries, orchards and its own microbrewery. Lots of other sporting activities exist in the immediate area with climbing, mountain biking, skiing in the winter and kayaking among the best. A drive up the nearby granite massif of Mt Buffalo is a must – complete with old hang glider ramp and paraglider launches.

WEATHER INFO
Bright sees a good degree of protection from the prevailing winds because of the surrounding mountains. In higher winds the tight valleys can make flying dangerous, so keep an eye on increasing wind patterns.

RASP (for the whole of Australia)

Australian Bureau of Meteorology

New internet weather stations on Mystic and Gundowring

freeflightwx.com/mystic/

freeflightwx.com/gundowring/

GETTING THERE
Melbourne to Bright is a three-hour drive, and public transport is available.

GUIDES AND COURSES
North East Victoria Hang Gliding Club

Alpine Paragliding

Active Flight Paragliding

www.XCkms.com

USEFUL CONTACTS
Meet local pilots at the bomb-out on the Wandiligong road or at the Outdoor Inn campsite

Bright tourist information


• Got news? Send it to us at news@xcmag.com

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