Paragliding in Tasmania

When Australians go on holidays, paragliding in Tasmania often gets some consideration. It's an island state of Australia, 240km (150 miles) south of the eastern part of the continent, across the Bass Strait.

The cool temperate climate of Tasmania, plus its rolling hills and greenery reminded the old colonists of their home country England. It has a reputation for being a natural, pollution-free environment.

The mountains in Tasmania are generally of the 'rounded smooth' variety. Even so, some of them are quite high, over 1500m (5,000ft), and are capped with snow for part of the year. The most mountainous area is the Central Highlands region, in the central and western parts of the island. By comparison, the area out to the west from the Highlands is relatively flat.


Variations in temperature from season to season are moderate in Tasmania, varying from cool to warm. But being a temperate climate, the weather can be quite erratic from day to day. This is the case all year round. Expect cloudy, sunny and rainy days any old time.


With the weather conditions described it is not surprising that paragliding in Tasmania does not produce world-record flights. Tasmanian paragliding distance records have not yet passed 100km (60 miles). But you don't come down here for 'big' flying. More like a pleasant holiday with some picturesque sight-seeing thrown in, far away from grubbier, noisier parts of the planet.

But the locals who paraglide love to push the limits and see what can be achieved anyway. One record flight in Tasmania was made from Jews Hill, near the town of Brighton. The pilot launched from a slope soaring site, scratched around for a while in patchy slope lift but eventually got away in a thermal.

He progressed inland, catching more thermals and managing to get up to 1000m (3,300ft) altitude. That was enough, plenty in fact, for a wide river crossing with no tailwind assistance. Then it was up to 1200m (3,900ft), encountering some wind shear on the way up. The wind direction at the top of the thermal was in the opposite direction to the surface wind!

Next, impressive Mount Faulkner passed by on one side, as he searched the foothills for more thermals. Bingo, a nice one took him up to 1250m (4,100ft). Then things started to come unstuck, with very little thermal activity for a long distance. Just one more poor excuse for a thermal offered itself, so he took it to 1000m (3,300ft).

Gliding away again on track he saw the pastures of New Norfolk up ahead and decided the town oval would make a nice easy pickup point for his wife and kids, who would meet him with the car. So he set up his approach and dropped in for a spot-landing right on the batting crease of the local cricket pitch! 22.9km (14.2 miles) and 1hr 40min in the air. A new record for cross-country paragliding in Tasmania!


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