Well, it was a good plan.
I was going to fly up the coast, land at the beach and find a geocache.
The weather was perfect - a SE breeze at 18 knots. This produces enough lift off the coastal ridge to soar to over 1,000 ft above sea level for as long as you like.
Stanwell Park, just over an hour's drive south of Sydney is one of the best coastal soaring sites in Australia. From the takeoff at Bald Hill which is 600 ft above sea level, you can fly either south or north along the coast.
Flying south you need a little bit of height to cross the village of Stanwell Park where you pick up the lift again from Mount Mitchell, part of cliff-line that rises to about 1,100 ft above the sea below. This escarpment then continues south to Wollongong. Hang Glider pilots regularly make the trip when the conditions are right and have been know to get up to 3,000 ft above the hamlets below and fly about 15 - 20km southwards and return to where they take off.
It's a spectacularly scenic trip.
Flying north from takeoff, you will pass over the southern parts of the Royal National Park, the oldest National Park in the world. (Yellowstone was established as a Nature Preserve a couple of years before, and then became a National Park later).
In the video below you'll see the flight north over the National Park climbing to an altitude of about 1,300 ft.
It's always beautiful but especially so at sunset.
Coming back to land you need to lose height over Stanwell Park before flying over the houses, making a U-turn and landing on the sand beside the lagoon.
Because I hadn't flown for quite some time, I had lost some of the judgement you need when planning a landing approach. I came in a bit high then may have got hit by some turbulence coming off the headland. The glider climbed and went off course a little. Also, at this stage I should have had my legs out of the harness which increases drag and dampens any oscillation because of a greater pendulum effect.
A high performance glider will get into what is called Pilot Induced Oscillation (PIO). In other words it is caused by over-controlling the glider. The remedy is to simply release pressure from the controls and the glider immediately goes into trim. However as you can see in the video, it lost so much altitude that one wing scraped the ground and the glider spun in. The frame of a hang glider will often take the impact of a "sub-optimal landing" and sacrifice itself for you. This combined with soft sand allowed me to walk away without any injuries at all.
I was not in a frame of mind to go looking for the the geocache, so that will have to wait for another time.
Check out the video below:
If the video is not visible click on this link.