I was only about 45 minutes from Canungra, and although the weather didn’t look too good I decided to go and have a look. As it turned out I found eight or ten pilots at the meeting spot debating going up the hill. We eventually made our way up to Beechmont, but it didn’t look promising. It was blowing in nicely, but cloudbase was below the hill, and we could see rain squalls scattered around the valley. As the squalls came over launch visibility dropped to 100ft and rain poured down. All but two of the guys gave up and left. As luck would have it the fellow I rode up with wanted to stay – I certainly couldn’t see why – and none of the others were going back through Canungra. Oh well, I was stuck here until my ride decided to leave. We huddled in the small picnic shelter and shared flying stories while waiting for something to change. It just seemed to get worse, and then slowly a faint blue line appeared on the horizon. Soon we could see a definite band of blue studded with fair weather cumulus. Before long that blue was over launch and it was a different day. I had already decided not to fly so as not to put my still wobbly knee at more risk, but the other two started stuffing battens. In no time they were soaring at over 4000ft in 400-500ft/minute thermals. It was just amazing. The mountains and the valleys were magical looking; all crisp and green and glistening in the bright sun. Without my even flying the site captured me at that instant.
I was kicking myself for forgetting my camera in the van at the bottom of the hill – I really wanted to record this moment. After about an hour and a half the guys top landed and after chatting and breaking down we made our way back down the hill. By now it was late enough that I decided to stay in town for the night and make my way back to Manilla in the morning.
I woke early, and was ready to hit the road by 6am. I decided to make one more trip up the hill to try and get a picture of the launch. It wouldn’t be like yesterday, but at least it would be something. In fact it was even better. It was unreal to be standing there in the bright sun at 6:30 in the morning with the wind blowing straight in and puffy clouds above and behind launch while a thin layer of fog still lay in the folds of the valley. It was easy to see how Jonny was able to start a 500km flight here at 8:30 in the morning. The place was just mesmerizing. The site has incredible potential for sure. Jonny has made two 500km flights from here and many of the locals have made flights of over 300km. Beyond that, however, it was just a beautiful place, and surely a beautiful place to fly. I hope to be back.
On my way back down the hill I stopped to take some pictures of a colony of fruit bats to add to my animal collection, and then I headed on my way. I was going back to Manilla via the inland route through Beaudesert and Boonah, and then down the