Tag Archives: Middle Brother

Praise be to the Wind Gods

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Seriously, how good is this!

Yesterday was supposed to be a great day for flying. Unfortunately, the Wind Gods didn’t get the memo, and when we got to the bottom of Middle Brother, the conditions were as flat as a disappointing girlfriend’s chest. As a result, me and the Cloudbase crew spent the day waiting at the bottom of Middle Brother:

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Extreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeme!

Waiting at the top of Middle Brother:

 

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It’s wetter than a fish’s hat!

And waiting in the park at Laurieton:

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Laurieton, NSW: Where dildos double as play equipment

The day wasn’t a wash, though. With our paragliding dreams in tatters, we headed back to Cloudbase HQ for an absolutely brilliant BBQ (thanks to Ricardo’s Tomatoes), a bellyful of beer, and lots of shit talk. The weather might’ve been dodgy, but the company certainly wasn’t.

But, like a sexual drought being broken by a prostitute moving in next door, the tough times simply made the good times better. The Wind Gods must’ve heard our overnight prayers, because they were certainly smiling on us today. The weather was incredible and the flying was, in a word, phenomenal.

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Kenny!

We piled into a convoy of cars and headed out to Long Flat, where a 225m-tall mountain would serve as our launch zone. I’ve flown at Long Flat once before and loved it, so I was as excited as a kiddie with a new box of Lego as we drove up the hill.

The wind was light as we started out, and the students who are wrapping up their course with Cloudbase did awesomely to get away and have sleddies down to the landing zone far below. I was one of the last to leave the hill, which worked out well because I found myself in a monstrous thermal out in the middle of the valley. I climbed, and climbed, and climbed, until I was higher than Charlie Sheen and more than double launch height. It was an incredible flight, and really helped with my confidence after some patchy flights in recent times.

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“Dashing” Duncan has no problems getting it up

My journey to the heavens had nothing on the adventures of Mark, one of the legends who’s been flying with us the last few days. He hit the same thermal as me and took it all the way to 3800ft, or more than 1200m. I’m glad I didn’t make it quite that high, because I would’ve shat my pants, squealed, passed out, and probably ended up somewhere in Tasmania.

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View from the top of the world

I had a further two flights that were plenty of fun but not quite as good with themals, and when I made it back to terra firma I was hotter than an Indian bloke’s lunch. There’s a beautiful river that runs through the valley, so I stripped off and jumped in, splashing around like some sort of demented eel.

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Yes, I was skinny dipping

Days like this are why were paraglide. Smashing weather, awe-inspiring views, good company and the opportunity to push ourselves to do things we never thought possible. It doesn’t get better than this!

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Chasing the Wind

I haven’t had something hairy and goofy-looking wake me up since my last girlfriend left me, so it was comforting to be woken up by the goats again this morning.

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Don’t you just wanna milk ’em?

Once that intimate rendezvous was out of the way, it was time to get into some paragliding. Well, more like time to wait around for some paragliding. I watched a genuinely interesting infomercial on a blunder, and a news item about an obsession with Instagram indicating a propensity to cheat. I was nodding my head so much it almost fell off, but that’s a story for a much-anticipated future entry.

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You can see my handbag down there

The wind finally rocked up, and me and the Cloudbase Paramagliding crew made our way to beautiful Indian Head, so named because one of the blokes from the Village People was caught sucking the salami there. It’s a great spot and really pretty, but the wind was a bit intense, so it was time for some more para-waiting. And more para-waiting. And more…

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Cool Chris heads for the skies

When things finally settled down, I was able to get up for a tandem flight with my homeboy Mark. He’s known as the Grand Poobah of Paragliding, so I relished the opportunity to strap myself in close to him and sail off into the endless skies. While Mark knocked back my sexual advances, we enjoyed a memorable flight above the New South Wales coastline.

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Hunks of the sky… form an orderly line, seagulls!

We waited for the winds to die down, and when they didn’t, I decided to go for a flap on my own in a smaller wing. I’ve had one flight in the last seven months, so I was as rusty as a Mormon robot’s cock, and I wasn’t happy with my performance, even under difficult conditions (I’ve said that after a few sexual encounters, trust me). My take-off was awful, I kicked a tree mid-flight, and I never felt completely comfortable. The wind was a bit too strong for me to have a fun flight, and I ended up having to land earlier than I wanted to, but it was great to get a flight out of the way as I build my hours and my confidence. And even if I was disappointed with today, there’s always tomorrow.

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Is it the shoes?

My struggles with the wind convinced Mark and Chris that it wad time to head home, and I spent the night cracking beers and enjoying the company of good people. the paragliding community is a wonderful and inclusive bunch, and I’m loving my time up in Port Macquarie.

All up, it was a brilliant day, and proved that perfect conditions aren’t required for a great day of paragliding. Good mates, a few laughs, and having a crack are what it’s all about. It looks like Middle Brother might be on tomorrow, and if it is…. yeah, there’ll be stories.

We were so in phase in our paragliding days

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Look at me fly! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

I’m back from a week of paragliding around Camden Haven on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, and the world seems a lot more boring than it did from 500 metres above the ground. I’m not stuck in an office or anything stupid like that, but flying has burrowed under my skin like an ice addict’s invisible beetles and I’ve really got the itch to get back up there again.

Or maybe it’s just scabies, I dunno.

Anyway, I’ve put together a short video of my time up there. I cut out the bit where I fell into a bush, and the bit where I almost crashed into a tree, but I think it’s a fun little movie that captures what it’s like to be a novice pilot hanging out with the Cloudbase crew. If you search for paragliding on the YouTube you’ll find all sorts of vids of dudes pulling off flips and crazy shit like that, but few of them have only four hour’s flight time, so they don’t really represent a beginner’s experience.

In other words, the guys in those videos are Ron Jeremy; I’m an 18-year-old in a knock shop.

So here it is, the besterest and most critically-acclaimed film since Dead Dudes in the House.

Conquering the Middle Brother

Four months ago, I stood at the top of Middle Brother Mountain, 550 metres above the ground, with a paraglider strapped to my arms and a little bit of scare-wee dribbling down my leg. My friends were already on the ground, celebrating their first high flight. I ran at the cliff, heart pumping and mind racing and looking forward to a life-changing new experience and… the wind dropped. I had to pack up my glider, climb back into the car, and drive down to meet everyone else. I was shattered, and the shadow of Middle Brother has loomed over me ever since.

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The launch site at Middle Brother

Today, I went back there, looking out over the mid north coast of New South Wales. This time I had my pilot’s license in my pocket and my own shiny glider to fly, and I found myself at that same launch site. It was a perfect day, with blue sky in every direction and green hills rolling out to the shining sea, but the wind was erratic. It was coming through in gusts, and I was sure Middle Brother was going to shrug me off again. Like that spunky chick I missed out on rooting in Year 12 and haven’t been able to score with ever since, I thought this mountain would remain out of my grasp, at least for a little bit longer.

But today was my day.

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I’ve never seen a view like that in an office

I didn’t want to risk losing the wind and having to sadly crawl down the hill again, so I climbed into Kenny (that’s my glider, named after Kenny Nagas, not a bloke), lifted up my wing and pointed myself out at the abyss. It’s not ideal to head towards a tree, but that’s what I did, popping up just in time to clear it. I don’t think I breathed for the first minute as I soared into the sky, lifting above the mountain as the whole world opened up beneath me. Rivers and towns and beaches spread out, but I saw none of it, so busy was I concentrating on not dying.

I’ve done a few high flights before, but this one was completely different due to the turbulence in the air, which shook me like an unwanted child. Every time my glider jiggled around I nearly crapped myself, but I kept cool, found good height and made it to the landing site. I had two very capable and experienced pilots on the radio to help me and guide me through the flight, but I’d ultimately done it by myself, and the feeling was nothing short of brilliant.

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Coming in to land over the Pacific Highway. It’s all good as long as you avoid the semi trailers

Flying off a mountain is about overcoming fears and limitations, trusting yourself and pushing yourself to new limits, and is the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done. I’ve spent a lifetime not taking risks, not reaching my potential because I’ve never really believed in myself. It’s why I worked a dead-end job as a porn writer for eight years when I should’ve backed myself to do something better. With paragliding, you have to back yourself, because that’s all between you and the very hard ground 700 metres below. It’s about so much more than a simple thrill.

I’m up here with a mate of mine, Mark from Cloudbase Paragliding, just south of Port Macquarie (www.cloudbaseparagliding.com.au), who has been kind enough to let me to fly with him for a week (and ask him a shitload of questions that I should already know the answer to). I didn’t get my license with him and he has no obligation to take me flying, other than the fact he wants me to become a better pilot and not kill myself. Along with his partner Chris (work partner, not life partner), they’ve been great, and have helped me reach the next level in my journey as a paramaglider. They’re running this class for a single student, a great bloke (for a Pom) named Rich, who will leave here an awesome pilot.

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Kenny, who safely brought me down from 700+ metres three time. Good job, Kenny!

On my second flight off the mountain, I no longer had a fear of falling to my death and sat back to enjoy the view and the unparralled feeling of freedom that comes with soaring through the sky. There’s nothing like it; it might sound like I’m bullshitting but it really does feel as if you’ve transcended the limitations of being a human. After all, when you’re up there you’re bloody flying! As I crept towards the glorious ocean, looking out at that incredible world around me, I had to fight back tears. I’ve spent years being told I’m not good enough to be someone’s boyfriend , or to join Cirque du Soleil, or write for a fucking cheap porn mag, but here I am flying through the sky, motherfuckers!

I’ve never surfed or skateboarded or, I dunno, played those board games that nerds love, but this is my thing. I love zooming around with a handful of ropes keeping me in the air, and after a top day of pushing limits I feel confident that I can make a real go of this flying thing. Today was as good a day as I’ve ever spent, with as good people as I’ve ever met, and I can’t wait to go off a few more mountains.

Now, let’s see what I can do about chucking one up that chick I went to school with…

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On the ground and not dead