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East Coast flying sites

The sites on Mornington Peninsula are some of the best for coastal flying close to Melbourne. Most of them are flyable in all seasons what comes handy especially during winter when inland sites are rather unrewarding and mostly not worth the trouble of driving there. These coastal sites provide, depending at what you are after, both relaxing flying in a smooth coastal air or the challenge of covering long stretches of coast with demanding sections where every bit of glider performance and pilot skills counts. Some of the sites and tasks are ideally suitable for beginners, others can be demanding and even dangerous. Treat them with the respect they deserve. Most of the launches are of the "one man" kind and by lingering there you are blocking everybody else. Make sure you walk on the launch only when you are ready to take off.  Ideally, you should have your glider attached and bundled, have all preflight check done and you should be sure the conditions are suitable for you. If any doubts or problems, step aside and let  other pilots go.  Don't hesitate to ask for help especially with spreading of your glider or securing you from being dragged over spectators or assembled hanggliders. On the other hand, do not let anybody to rush you and do everything as thoroughly as ever. Just make sure you do on the launch ONLY those things that can't be done anywhere else. Doing your shoelaces, attaching glider to harness or setting your altimeter are not among them. Be considerate.
Also keep in mind these place are very sensitive and in a constant danger of being lost to us due to a ban by authorities. It is going to happen if we don't adhere to the rules under which we are allowed to use them. All these sites are being managed by Skyhigh Paragliding Club and all concerns or inquiries should be directed to it thru its website. Radio communication should be carried on the official club radio channel: UHF CB 16, CTCSS 97.4Hz. In most radios this means subchannel 11 or 12.
Especially for the holders of Restricted Pilot License (novices): this guide is NOT to be regarded as a substitute for a direct guidance or supervision by an experienced local pilot. Any information here, despite of being based on more than 15 years of experience with these sites, is not to be regarded as official as it my opinion only. Paragliding Headquarters accepts no responsibility for any consequences of using this this guide.
Jiri Stipek
This page is being continuously updated and more sites will be added shortly.

Cairns Bay


Rating: intermediate
Special rules: none
Location: A - car park  Melways 260/J10     GPS S 38 29.15 E 144 58.10              B - takeoff   Melways 260/J12     GPS S 38 28.915 E 144 58.120
Ideal wind direction: SSW
Takeoff altitude: 25m

Cains Bay in Google Earth

Cairns Bay opens many of possibilities to pilots with a whole range of experience. It is a perfect place for beginners to enjoy easy soaring in the B-D area or practice top landings back on the takeoff "B". More experienced pilots can cross to point "E" from where they can soar another 800m of 60m high cliffs before the Bushragers Bay headland. Even in ideal conditions the minimum height for the crossing is 100m at point "C". Any W component in the wind direction can make it virtually impossible and dangerous. There is no bottom landing under these cliffs and ending up in the surf is deadly.
Skygods can venture even further: the Cape Shank run (7km) has been done about 3 times so far. It is definitely a one-way ticket and it is feasible only in winds close to 20 knots. I would try to discourage anybody without an extensive experience of trying this task.
A special care has to be taken not to pass point "D" as the next bowl can produce an extreme turbulence sometimes extending 100 or more meters high. A very dangerous spot indeed. An experienced pilot however, can fly from there to Flinders (4.5km) and sometimes even back. The run is not easy and it can be dangerous for those not familiar with the area. I'd suggest to do it for the first time only if you are on a radio with some of the local skygods.
Takeoff is quite easy, beware of the venturi effect around the little hill "F" behind, so position yourself in the centre of it. Take off only if you are sure the conditions are good enough for you to sustain with a good margin. Landing on the bottom can be quite demanding as the "user friendly" area is small and landing on the rocks or in the water is not a good idea. If you run out of options, hitting the sand dune "H" is often the safest way how to deal with this situation. Top landing back on the takeoff is a norm for this site. It is also possible to fly back to the car park, but it requires a high skills level and the turbulence there can make it dangerous. I'd like to discourage anybody from doing it. Also watch out for a rotor in the "C" bowl if the wind is more from the S.
Some degree of common sense and courtesy is required when there is a heavy traffic there - not unusual on good days. Bear in mind the takeoff area is identical with landing zone here. The landing glider has the right of the way and it is important not to get in the way of it, even by groundhandling. On the other hand, the pilot intending to land should clearly indicate his intention as only a few of us are mind readers. A good radio communication is essential.
Watch out for squalls (especially in winter) that are quite common in this area. Being blown back doesn't necessarily have to be a death sentence. Tthere is a nice flat "buffer zone" on the left side of the takeoff (G), but try to avoid this situation as much as you can. The right hand side of the little hill is, on the other hand, definitely not a place where you want to be when your groundspeed becomes low. Nobody ended up in the old quary yet, but it is easy to imagine what the consequeces would be...

Flinders (Golf Course)

Rating: novice
Special rules: no landing on the golfcourse, launch area or the road, no flying beyond the lookout "D" next to the Gunnery Range
Location: Melways 261/J10,           GPS S 38 28.73 E 145 0.76
Ideal wind direction: S
Takeoff altitude: 30m


Flinders is the most popular site on the Mornington peninsula. Flying just in the bowl "B-C" is easy and the broad beach is hard to miss even for a raw novice. With SSW winds it is wise to keep off the W end "B" of the bowl where rotor can cause some problems if one is flying too low. Also, there is a special trick on landing: as long as the site is soarable, even when the prevailing wind is SSW, the wind at the beach is always of SSE direction. The lesson is; make your landing approach always towards the Gunnery Range "D" if you don't fancy making somersaults in the sand... It is also possible to land in front of the house "G", but the turbulence there makes this alternative suitable only for experienced pilots.
The launch "A" is rather tricky and any mistake will result in your glider ending up in the surrounding bushes and pine trees. Very hard to get it out. Launching in strong winds can also deposit you on the car park. Beware of spectators who love to put their children on the fence. Politely ask them to keep the kids safe and don't launch until the members of general public are out of you potential path. Use anchor whenever not sure about your ability to handle the launch 100% - especially when there are assembled hanggliders present.
More experienced pilots can leave the bowl by crossing the creek "E" W of the bowl. This is a sticky point, make sure you are on the radio with an experienced pilot before making your first attempt. In SSE wind direction (when it is easy to cross towards Blowhole) bear in mind you will also want to fly back. This point is hard to cross against a cross wind and the bombout area is dangerous. Once over the cliffs near Blowhole "F", make sure you head back if there are any signs of the wind dropping off. Landing on the rocky shore may not be exactly soft and the walk back is long. Experienced pilots can cross the Blowhole and fly to Cairns Bay or beyond (Cape Shank has been reached 3 times). Getting back from Cairns bay is rare though. Crossing the Blowhole is demanding and it can be dangerous. Do not attempt if you don't have an extensive experience or a guidance from some of the skygods.
The place can be rather busy on a good day. Be especially careful when the conditions are light not allowing enough separation. If you feel uncomfortable, LAND without hesitation. On strong days the main problem usually become hanggliders with their higher speed and a different field of vision. Watch out!



This site is currently closed and flying there is prohibited until further notice.

Rating: intermediate
Special rules: no landing on the golfcourse
Location: A - car park  Melways 104/K6     GPS S 38 12.05  E 145 3.75              B - takeoff    GPS S 38 12.12     E 145 3.65
Ideal wind direction: NW
Takeoff altitude: 25m

Sunnyside site

Sunnyside is one of the most picturesque sites on the East Coast. In good condition it is possible to fly at great heights over a vast stretch of the coast overlooking some of the most affluent suburbs with amazing houses on the cliffs. It is a typical morning site - good conditions in the afternoon are rare as the wind usually abates very quickly around 11 am. Don't get caught by this somewhere where you don't want to land! While the site is suitable for novices, some previous coastal experience is required as landing can be tricky. The car park "A" is, besides of by us, being frequented by drug dealers undercover detectives and homosexuals - watch your ass, you may be approached by any of these any time. The nudist beach "G" (used exclusively by homosexuals) is not much fun for us, as Sunnyside is not flyable in the summer and you can see a piece of action there only in the late autumn or early spring.
The way from the car park to the takeoff is by a narrow path thru thick bushes, make sure your gear is properly packed. Climbing the cliff straight up from the beach is being discouraged as it damages the fragile coastal environment. The takeoff area is fairly small and if the wind isn't exactly NW, it can be quite rotory. Good groundhandling skills are required if you don't fancy hanging you washing on the surrounding trees. Make sure you won't get blown back on the Mt Eliza Golf Course. It is a private land and the club members are very theritorial. A special caution is needed while launching in N winds. They do not provide much lift and you never can be sure if you sustain. It is important to hang around the right hand side of the launch for a while to asses the situation and gain some height before turning left. You may be losing height quite quickly and it requires good skills to decide in time if you should continue flying or turn quickly back for a safe in the wind landing. The landing area along the cliffs is narrow and covered with rock. If you hit it with down wind speed, you get hurt. Turning late may also result in a nice swim.
Otherwise, flying at Sunnyside if fairly straightforward. In light condition I'd suggest not to fly beyond the white house "C", as lift further up is not too good and it is a long walk back. In stronger wind you can venture in the bowl "D" in front of the "Mansion", pick up some decent height and fly further towards the Life Saving Club "E". I managed to fly to Mothers Beach "F" twice (straight glide over the water), but it can be done only under special conditions.
While having plenty of height (120m or more) over the "Mansion", you can also fly back, cross the car park (soarable in strong winds) in the bowl "G" from where another possibility opens - flying towards Frankston. I flew as close as 2 km from Oliver's Hill once (I believe even these 2 km will be covered once), but again, it can't be done every day.
Wherever you go, there are stunning houses (or more castles) below you and it is advisable to keep the legal distance. Not all of the owners (the "Mansion" especially) are too impressed with us. On the other hand, if you establish some communication with the occupants, it can be a lot of fun - I was once invited to land on a flat roof of one of the houses and join a party there.
The regular landing area is the beach in front of the car park. In high tide it can be quite small, judge your approach carefully.


Rating: novice
Special rules: no taking off from the beach (habitat os a rare bird, destroying vegetation)
Location: Melways 156/A5,           GPS S 38 19.81 E 144 14.73
Ideal wind direction: SW
Takeoff altitude: 20m


Portsea is one of the most popular sites as it is easy on novices and can provide a very satisfying flying for old hands as well. The launch "B" can be rather tricky. The canopy is in a wind shadow while lying on the ground and there is only a few meters of space foe the pilot to move backwards to lift it from the ground. When he succeeds, the full strength of the wind takes it. It requires considerable skills to handle this change. Anybody I know ended up in the bushes behind the launch once or more times. Ask for a help if you are not sure you can launch safely. The takeoff area can also be used for top landing. Again, ending up in the bushes behind is no exception during this process. Try to minimize this occurrence, Victorian Parks may lose their patience with us one day. Lanching or landing, make sure there are no spectators in your way. The place is very busy in the summer.
Once in the air, it s advisable to turn left, fly as close to the cliffs as you safely can and milk all the lift you can from the high cliffs there. If you manage to climb above them, you can try to fly to the Lifesaving Club "E". If you bomb out on the way, the only problem is the long walk back. The beach is safe to land on along the whole stretch. However, especially close to the takeoff you may find difficult to land in strong winds due to lift extending low and far forward. It is actually technically possible to launch from the beach, but beware: it has been banned.
In strong winds you can extend your flight further over the dunes. The Sorrento Surf Club has been reached a few times and I flew twice abut 2 km behind it. This part, however, is not particularly safe and only experienced pilots should attempt it. I believe Cape Shank can be reached in special condition.
Another option is to fly West from the takeoff towards Point Nepean (has been made quite few times). The first sticky point is London Bridge "C" which can produce a nasty turbulence. Make sure you are well above the cliff while passing it. The bowl "D" provides excellent lift and it is a good start for the Point Nepean trip. Again, only very experienced pilots should try it. Some of the headlands and bowls on the way are dangerous and there is nothing better than a good guidance by one of the local skygods on the radio. Make sure you can fly back too. The wind has a bad habit of turning more S later in the day, stopping you from reaching the takeoff area again. There are no cars allowed to the Point Nepean National Park (that is where you will find yourself) an it is a VERY long walk. A word of caution: keep on the official tracks. The place is former army training ground and there may still be some unexploded ordnance around.
Despite of the apparent benign appearance of the site, Portsea has to be treated with respect. It is open to Bass Straight and on some days there are unpredictable squalls coming over the water. There were many cases of people being blown back and 2 HG pilots died there during the past few years. No PG pilot as yet - don't become the first!

Craigie Rd

This site is currently closed - Mornington Council doesn't like us.

Rating: advance
Special rules: no novices allowed
Location: Melways 145/B7,           GPS S 38 15.10 E 145 1.63
Ideal wind direction: W
Takeoff altitude: 25m

Craigie Rd

Craigie Rd is a typical morning site - good conditions in the afternoon are rare as the wind usually abates very quickly around 11 am. Don't get caught by this somewhere where you don't want to land! The site is rated "advanced" for a good reason: it provides all what a real thrill seeker can wish for. No safe landing area below the takeoff, busy road and power lines behind, hard to read wind direction, difficult to land in strong winds. Headland "B" at the right hand side of takeoff  "A" created a strange rotor in N winds causing the wind direction at the takeoff appearing to be perfectly W. If you get sucked in, you may find virtually impossible to deploy your glider (a good thing, actually). It will start collapsing and doing all kind of funny stuff as soon as it gets a few meters above the ground. If you do manage to takeoff despite these warning signs, you may be in a deep trouble. The lesson here: never trust a streamer at the takeoff and if you have problem deploying your glider, just walk away. In strong winds beware the fence: it is a paraglider shredder. Also make sure you don't have spectators behind it or (very popular) children sitting on the railing of the lookout. It is easy to lose control and somebody may get hurt. Also make sure you are launching into condition strong enough to allow you stay in the air. There is no safe bombout area below. On the other hand, being blown back is outright deadly with the road and power lines behind...
Once in the air, head to the left first and pick up some height before crossing the headland (creates ugly turbulence even in perfect wind direction) "B" over the safe landing area, beach "C". Landing in the area "C" is possible, but one of the beach houses may get in your way. In average condition the flyable stretch is from headland "E" to a fire access road "D". In strong winds there is possible to stretch it further towards Mt Martha or the point "E" towards Mornington. Schnapper Point at Mornington Harbor has been reached once by Clinton Arnall. This trip is not easy and only very experienced pilots should attempt it. Not many landing options on the way.
The normal landing area is, as mentioned above, the beach "C". In strong wind however, you may find landing there virtually impossible and unless you are confident with "hook turn landings" or some special flight regimes of your glider, fly over the point "D" and land somewhere near Mt Martha village where the cliffs are lower.
In perfect condition top landing on the takeoff is possible, but it requires excellent skills. Don't try if you have any doubts you can do it safely.

Flinders (Monument)

Rating: advance
Special rules: no novices allowed
Location: Melways 262/A9,           GPS S 38 28.50 E 145 1.43
Ideal wind direction: E
Takeoff altitude: 45m


Monument is located in Flinders, just a few hundred meters from the "Golf course" site. As the cliffs are facing E, it provides an excellent alternative when Golf Course is not flyable when the S winds turn E later in the day (a regular event in the summer). The Monument site is, in fact, quite easy to fly and the only (but important) reason for its "advanced" rating is the strange behavior of the air. The site occasionally produces extreme turbulence and wind gradient, undetectable from the ground. It happens on a regular basis even an experienced pilot launches and wishes immediately he wouldn't have. I had a close call there myself a few years ago when I launched in a wind apparently so light, I had doubts if I could sustain. Wrong. I got blown back immediately and felt very lucky when I managed to land (almost) safely. The options, if you get over the houses trees and power lines, are rather limited.
The lesson: do not trust anybody who tells you the conditions are OK. Wait to see him in the air. The takeoff "A" is just beside the World War II monument "B" after which is the site named. Alternatively you can try the old launch (before the gate in the railing was provided) "C". Neither alternative is particularly easy due to wind shadow when your canopy is placed on the ground. A helper lifting the leading edge is always welcome. If the wind is not exactly E, the resulting turbulence makes deployment even more difficult. The best indicators of wind direction are the boats anchored in front of the launch.
Once in the air, everything is easy (if the site doesn't produce it ugly tricks) and you can pick up a lot of height flying the stretch "A"-"G". The best lift is just opposite the launch. The more adventures can go beyond the pont "D", cross the creek and fly up to the headland "F". This is a point of no return if you decide to try flying to Shoreham. It is not an easy run, but quite safe. Just the walk back is long if you don't have somebody to retrieve you.
Landing is possible just about everywhere on the beach along the flyable stretch, but the regular landing zone is at the beach "G". Watch out for the power line "E" while landing there. Top lading at the takeoff area is possible, but as the place can be quite turbulent this exercise should be reserved only for the more experienced pilots. Another top landing opportunity is at a small lawn "D". It seems to be a bit safer.
Watch out for sudden increase in wind strength - it is often (but not always) advertised by white cups on the water. Repeating again: you don't want to be blown back at this place. Be aware, the whit cups may also be caused by a fast current in the heads. It requires a bit of experience to recognize the right cause. If you don't have it, always assume the worse alternative. Changes in wind direction can be also quite sudden. Watch out for them.