Guide to Canungra, Australia

  • Flyable all year with big XC potential – 507km is the site record
  • Jonny Durand’s home site
  • Gold Coast tourism just a glide away
  • Southern spring and autumn are the best times
Follow that cloudstreet: a classic day in Canungra. Photo: Brooke Whatnall

Follow that cloudstreet: a classic day in Canungra. Photo: Brooke Whatnall

WHY GO?
Year-round flying with an easy infrastructure for going cross country, plus a vibrant social scene.

WHERE IS IT?

WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Canungra is flyable all year round and produces good XC flights every month of the year. There are several sites for all wind directions and the terrain is varied, from valleys and peaks to farming flatlands and 1,500m mountain ranges further inland.

As one of the most popular flying locations in Australia for both hang gliders and paragliders there is a fulltime flying scene any day it’s flyable.

In the spring nesting season you will undoubtedly have the privilege of sharing a thermal with a sociable wedgetail eagle. Among the largest birds of prey in the world they like to check you out and get close.

FLYING CONDITIONS
At just 30km from the east coast of Australia, the best XC flying is to the west. This proximity to the coast means the seabreeze can kick in in the afternoon and cloudbase can be lower at launch and for the first few climbs, increasing inland to 2,500m bases.

Most launches here have consistent thermal triggers, with typically light to moderate wind and thermal conditions that are not overly strong. The area regularly produces good XC conditions and 100km flights are common. The XC records are 325km for PG and 507km for HG, both footlaunched from Beechmont.

The Beechmont launch is unique in that it can produce thermic conditions very early in the morning during the dry summer months, often before 7am. The result is flights of six to eight hours are often completed and 10-hour flights are possible on good days.

Beechmont is also home to one of hang gliding’s biggest stars, Jonny Durand. He first learnt to fly here, taking his dad’s hang glider out of the garage for his first solo spin as a cheeky 14-year-old.

WHEN TO GO
Year round, but it’s best during spring (September to November) and autumn (March and April).

ALTITUDE
Launches are roughly 600masl with approximately 400m top to bottom

HANG GLIDER ACCESS
The most popular launches for hang gliders are Mount Tamborine and Beechmont, both of which are easily accessible via sealed roads.

MUST BE FLOWN
Beechmont to Boonah is a straight-line 60km and a commonly flown route by local pilots, covering a full range of terrain. Flying the isolated volcanic peaks of Mt Maroon, Mt Barney and Mt Lindsay are also real XC highlights, about 50km from launch.

WATCH OUT FOR
Some mid-week military airspace boundaries 50km away. Check in with the local HGFA club to get a temporary membership and site briefing as there are local sensitivities over landing areas. A friendly chat with the club Safety Officer is recommended.

ACCOMMODATION
The Canungra Hotel, Canungra Motel and the Canungra Showground Campground are popular places to stay with pilots, and provide something for every budget up to $100/night.

TAKE THE FAMILY AND RAINY DAYS
The Canungra/Mt Tamborine area is a popular tourist area with all the trappings. There is also a range of national parks and other outdoor activities in the area. The incredible beaches of the Gold Coast are just 40 minutes away. Surf’s up.

WEATHER
Mid summer is dry in El Niño weather phases with excellent long-distance conditions. Conditions turn wetter in La Niña cycles. The winters are mild and still produce good XC flights.

GETTING THERE
Fly into either Brisbane or Gold Coast airport. A rental car is then the best way to access the area and the launches. If you’re there in October a minibus can pick up pilots from Brisbane airport and provide full retrieve as part of the week-long Canungra Cup.

CONTACTS
Canungra Club: all visiting pilots must be temporary members
Canungra Cup: the yearly paragliding XC comp runs in October every year


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