Tag Archives: Paragliding

Mornington Glory

Round-Eye Scotty, Asian Scotty, and Your Drunken Hero were zooming down the Hume Highway in an overloaded VW Beetle, gazing in awe at the passing scenery and stopping at every scone and crumpet shop we passed. Our destination was Melbourne’s glorious Mornington Peninsula, but we couldn’t imagine what this paradisical scrap of coastline had in store for us. Little did any of us know that this trip would change us all forever, introduce us to the most incredible person to ever live – or that one of us wouldn’t survive.

Peeking through bushes comes naturally to me

Asian Scotty was behind the wheel, smoking his crack pipe as usual and abusing every granny he overtook. The blood from our brutal battle with the tuffs in Yackandandah clung to his face, clothes, and outrageous mullet-style haircut. Round-Eye was lazing around on the back seat, admiring the diamond-encrusted rings on his fingers. We were passing the Australian Alps, where I’d once flown my paraglider, but you wouldn’t know it. The entire landscape was blanketed with bushfire smoke, lending an eerie glow to everything. Our driver wasn’t in the mood to chat, so I turned around to talk to Round-Eye.

“So where are we going, mate?” I asked him. Scotty rolled his eyes, obviously annoyed that I’d dragged his attention away from picking his ring.
“We’ll be staying with my friend John. He has a shack by the beach.”
“Sounds nice. But will there be room for us?”
“If not, I’m sure there’s a dog house for our Asian friend here. Just as long as he doesn’t eat the dog!” As if on cue, Asian Scotty snarled.
“How do you know this… what did you say his name was? Jack?”
“Some people call him that. We met many years ago when we were both struggling musicians. Well, he was struggling more than I was, but I taught him how to sing. He went on to some manner of success.”
“Would I have heard anything of his?”
“Are you aware of The Voice?”
“That crappy singing show? Don’t watch it, but if that’s all he’s known for he must be rubbish. Hope he can keep his mouth shut.”

Topless chick! Topless chick! Topless chick!

The outskirts of Melbourne are a jumble of grotty factories and burnt-out kombis, but as Asian Scotty cruised onto the Mornington Peninsuala, the clouds parted and I was astonished by how beautiful it is. There were cliffs, bays, and thousands of trees. At Round-Eye’s direction, Asian Scotty pulled the car to a stop along a cliffline and we all got out. Below us sprawled the shimmering Mount Martha Beach, with crystal clear water and golden sand. Along the shore was a clutch of brightly-painted beach shacks, each accompanied by a set of happy people drinking and fucking around. The scene was so wonderful that we all went for a skinny dip (and the sea level rose worldwide when Round-Eye waded in above knee-height).

Even a dickhead like Ben Cummins could see how good this view is!

Paddling around in the wonderful water and oggling the local beauties in their barely-there bikinis helped us work up a thirst, so Round-Eye suggested the nearby Red Hill Brewery. It was 10:30 in the morning, which is later than I usually start drinking, so I told him to lead the way! It doesn’t take long to leave the Mornington Peninsula’s beaches and climb into the wilderness, and half an hour later our Beetle pulled into the quaint little brewery, surrounded by dense bush, with dozens of local birds heralding our arrival.

Another place to get thrown out of!

The rustic bar was packed with pissheads well-groomed ladies and gentlemen enjoying a sensible drink in a lovely setting. The three of us swaggered up to the bar and asked what the barman suggested, and he told us about their tasting paddle – basically, four small glasses of beer. “We’ll take three of those,” I smirked, “but make them pints instead of little glasses, and we’ll have all the beers on the menu instead of just four.”

“And a glass of metho,” added Asian Scotty, to which the barman shook his head.

This is what they looked like before I turned them into urine

The beers at Red Hill are bloody good! From a crisp, refreshing pilsner with floral aromas and a slight citrus tang, to a Kolsch golden ale that’s smooth yet surprisingly complex, they all went down well. I can’t really describe the pacific ale or the Christmas haze, because I was hammered by the time I got to them, but I’m sure they were awesome. Anyway, they all did the job, because I spewed on the way back to the car.

I’ll pay anyone $1000 if they can take a photo of Round-Eye without a beer in his hand

With litres of quality booze under our belts (and in Asian’s case, a bottle of liquid paper he pinched from the office) we decided to give paragliding a miss for the day and head straight back to Round-Eye’s mate’s shack. I’ve had my tetanus and yellow fever vaccinations, so I wasn’t too worried, but still not excited by the prospect of staying in a fuckin’ shanty. So when Round-Eye directed Asian Scotty into a tree-lined private lane, I was intrigued. It took us up the side of a hill, and after a few hundred metres we reached a lavish metal gate. Round-Eye said a few words, we were buzzed in, and the Beetle crept further up the hill. The further we went, the better the view looked behind us – I swear, I could see half of Victoria out the back window. Suddenly, the trees in front of us opened up to reveal the biggest house I’d ever seen. It was white and modern and four storeys tall, with dozens of balconies, and a giant pool out the front, surrounded by palm trees. A marble staircase that was 50 metres long rolled down towards us. The whole thing looked out over Port Phillip Bay, and I knew the owner had to have serious coin.

Aw yeah, beats sleeping in a shopping trolley I guess

“Bro, this no look like home of some fucker you meet in jail,” gawped Asian Scotty. “This bitch even have record?”
“Oh, he has plenty of records,” smirked Round-Eye, as we parked beneath the gargantuan building.
As I climbed out of the car and stood beneath the mansion, I felt smaller than the time I fucked Casey Donovan, and poorer than the time I took Casey Donovan to lunch. I was curious about who could own the house, because Round-Eye is a bit of a deadshit and I assumed he only hung around with hobos and drug addicts. The wooden doors at the top of the long, marble staircase swung open dramatically and a robed figure thrust himself into the sunshine. He stood still for what seemed like a minute, then a faint, hypnotising beat began to emenate from speakers dotted around us. I started tapping my foot to the familar tune, scarcely believing what I was hearing. Could it be him?

Scotty was confused, yet intrigued

“We have,” the robed figure warbled, with a voice that could make angels weep, “the chance to turn the pages over.”
Asian Scotty had dropped his tough-guy attitude and was wiggling his bum around. I was punching the air. The robed figure descended towards us. “We can write what we want to write! We gotta make ends meet, before we get much older.”
Closer, closer…
“We’re all someone’s daughter. We’re all someone’s soooooooooon.”
The figure was almost close enough to touch!
“How long can we look at each other, down the barrel of a guuuuuuun?”
The figure flipped off his hood to reveal rosy red cheeks and kind blue eyes. It was Johnny Farnham, in all his glory!
He took me under one muscular arm and Asian Scotty under the other, and we danced in unison with the man they call ‘Australia’s answer to Elvis Presley’.
“You’re the voice, try and understand it! Make a noise and make it clear! Oh-woah-woah-woah, oh woah woah woah.”

The legend himself, Whispering Jack

The four of us danced and sang happily, until the song finally reached it’s thrilling conclusion. I hugged Farnsey and, overcome by emotion, asked him to be my dad. He laughed, with the big, warm laugh of his, and said we should start with a beer and see where things go. He whipped a longneck of VB out from his robe, ripped the top off with his teeth, and started pouring the golden elixir down our throats. And that, my friends, is how I became best mates with the greatest rock star the world has ever known!

GOLF AND SAND

PARAGLIDING

WHISPERING JACKS HOUSE

Yackandandah Smackdown

You know you’ve had a good time when you wake up in a shopping trolley with an empty VB carton on your head and dried vomit on your shirt. It was Boxing Day, I was in the main street of Gosford with no idea how I got there, and from the looks on the faces of people passing me that bright Summer morning, I was a fucking mess – just the way I like it. I was trying to focus my bleary eyes on a young mother with big tits, when a very unusual man began strutting towards me. He had tight leather pants, a really cool jacket, and spiky hair. Bloody hell, it was my old mate Scotty!

They found me in the specials aisle at Aldi, between a three-pack of toilet seats and some weird Malaysian chocolates

This is also Scotty’s Tinder profile pic

“Hey arsehole, you look worse than sex slave I accidentally leave in car boot for one month,” Scotty sneared, before putting out his cigarette on an old lady’s arm.

“Bloody hell, Scotty, I thought you were in jail for drug dealing or murder or…”

“All of above. And kidnapping turtle.” Scotty plucked the hat off a passing child, spat a wad of bright green phlegm into it, and popped it back on the kiddy’s head. “No prison can contain me. I kill warden, steal he clothes, walk straight out front door. Then I go to warden’s house, fuck he wife, eat he dinner, take he son to football game. Turn out, I make great father.”

“Good to hear things are going alright for you Scotty, but I need to…”

“It lucky I see you, motherfucker,” Scotty interjected whilst scratching his balls. “You come with me to Victoria, I have job for you.”

“Mate, I’m kinda busy here with…”

“I no ask, I tell,” he snarled, waving around prison shiv. “Now get in car you fucking dickhead.”

With that, Scotty pushed me, my trolley and my empty box of Sovereign Point into his rape wagon, slammed the door, and the next thing I knew we were heading down the dusty Hume.

Australia’s drier than Caitlyn Jenner’s vadge at the moment

Yackandandah: nicer than Wyong

I wanted to stop at the Big Merino and the Dog on the Tucker Box, but Scotty refused because he’s no longer legally allowed to visit any of Australia’s famous roadside attractions. I dunno, something about sucking off the Big Prawn or something. Anyway, due to the bushfires we had a slow journey the ugly and dying outback, and ended up pulling into the rural village of Yackandandah for the night. It’s a delightful spot, and an oasis of green in sizzling country being destroyed by drought. The Yackandandah Holiday Park is quiet, leafy, and ringed by a gorgeous little creek. More importantly, it’s close to a really good pub, where me and my mischievous Mandarin-mouthing mate proceeded to get hammered beyond belief.

Not a bad spot to pitch a tent

Not a bad place to smash beers till you shit your pants

I was minding my own business over an icy cold schooner of Carlton Draught and Scotty was knocking back Cocksucking Cowboys, when a big bloke with no neck and a face uglier and hairier than Magda Szubanski’s sauntered over.

“Are you two a couple of pooftahs or something?” he sneered, whilst rubbing his nipples through his Geelong Cats singlet. “Yeah, you look like a couple of real pooftahs! I bet you like kissing each other right on the mouth. You bloody pooftahs! Both lookin’ at me like you wanna eat me for dessert. Probably wanna take turns sucking my dick. You’d be good at it, too. Couple of bloody pooftahs. I should let you both suck me off, just to prove what a couple of bloody pooftahs you are. Then I’ll fuckin’ smash youse both. Bloody pooftahs.”

Here’s my urine sample!

He’s probably a nice bloke when he’s not trying to kill people

The giant inbred barely had time to pull down his fly before Scotty lept up and smashed a schooner glass in his neck, sending a torrent of blood flying into the crisp night air. The hillbilly clutched at his neck, barely understanding what was going on, then screamed with what was left of his vocal chords. Scotty, covered from head to toe in blood, smiled maniacally, then knocked the deviant arse-first into a pot plant with a right fist.

“Don’t you know I no make sucky with white guy?” he smirked, then did a small celebratory dance. I slapped him a high five, then a shadow fell over us. I looked towards the door to see six of the toughest, roughest dickheads standing there, looking like we’d just walked dogshit through their living room. They peered from their mate’s crumpled body to me and Scotty. I grabbed my glass as a weapon, but mainly just prepared myself to have my nuts kicked off, as the thugs moved in. Scotty took a pair of nunchucks out of leather pants and waved them around out of desperation. We were fucked.

I closed my eyes tightly and waited for the pain, but it didn’t come. I peeked through my fingers to see something very strange indeed – the gang was parting like the Red Sea. Then, from the shadows, stepped a dashingly handsome man. Fuck me dead if it wasn’t Round-Eye Scotty, back from the dead!

Never ask Scotty to give you head

You don’t wanna know what Round-Eye did to the other six dwarfs

I thought you got raped to death in prison,” I stammered, and Round-Eye just giggled.

“Rumours of my prison rape-inflicted death have been greatly exaggerated,” he purred, and the gaggle of tough guys laughed enthusiastically. Round-Eye quietly told the boys to go inside, and they followed his instructions without hesitation. “Far from dying of massive rectal hemorrhaging, I prospered in prison. Became a king to these men… and to the Asian thug you are travelling with.”

Suddenly, the night was eerily silent. In the distance a kookaburra cackled, then was cut short. Asian Scotty stared at Round-Eye Scotty. Round-Eye Scotty stared at Asian Scotty. It was like watching a couple of pitbulls sizing each other up. Then, Asian Scotty fell to his knees, took his round-eyed rival’s hand, and kissed it.

“My king,” he gasped. “I sorry, I no know he with you. Please, I cut my balls off to show how sorry I am.”

“There’s no need for that,” sniffed Round-Eye. “I merely need you to take me to the Mornington Peninsula.”

“We make kill some dickhead? Maybe is for major drug run? Sex slavery?”

“No, something much wilder than that,” responded Round-Eye. “We shall go paragliding.”

And I’m not sure what happened after that because I found half a bottle of metho and got fuckin’ hammered. The local cops must used to that sort of thing, ‘cos there wasn’t an investigation or anything. Just other night in rural Victoria, I guess. But come back for the next blog post, when we finally get to the Mornington Peninsula, because it’ll be even wilder than this one. Which is saying something, ‘cos this one had a fuckin’ beheading in it!

Interlaken: A paraglider’s paradise

There have been three perfect moments in my life; watching Paul Osborne’s around-the-corner offload to Dave Furner during the 1994 grand final, seeing my girlfriend for the first time, and soaring above the unreal azure waters of Interlaken. But they say the darkest night is before the dawn, and that was certainly the case during my first solo paragliding trip through Switzerland.

Interlaken has dozens of launches, but I decided to head to th 1060m-high Luegibrueggli (know as Eggs by the locals) for my first flight – mainly because it’s easy to get to by bus from the middle of Interlaken. After 20 minutes scraping up the hill from town, and a brisk walk through the woods, I found myself in a tiny clearing looking out over the most beautiful lake in the world. I set up my gear, took a deep breath, and cruised out into the clear Swiss air.

It took me about five seconds to realise something was wrong. Very, very wrong. After narrowly missing a tree after launching, I realised my left brakeline was tangled, meaning I couldn’t steer the bloody thing and was being dragged dangerously close to town by the swelling valley breeze. I was a kilometre above the Earth with barely any control over my glider, a thin stream of urine dribbling down my leg and regret on my mind. I needed to use all my experience as a pilot to somehow drag my glider down to the green valley floor, and drop into the tiny landing zone. When i finally landed safely, I took a moment to scrape the fright shite out of my pants and reflect on how close I’d come to disaster.

As I sucked on a frosty can of Tell that night whilst watching the sun set over the Alps, I was still thinking about what had happened. I’m so proud of myself for having reached a stage of my flying that I can travel to a foreign country alone, find flying spots, check out the conditions and take to the air by myself, but I always have more to learn. Today’s lesson was patience – and to wear dark-coloured undies when I fly a new spot. The next day, I promised myself, would be perfect.

With great conditions forecast, I took the bus all the way up to the 1280m-high Waldegg (known as Eggs by the locals) launch. After quadruple-checking my lines, I once again launched into the beautiful alpine valley, and this time everything was absolutely perfect. I hooked into a thermal and climbed up into the clear, blue sky, as the magical scenery shrank beneath me. Dozens of other gliders were dancing through the sky and heading off in all directions, and I managed to cross the valley and play above the monumental peaks of the Andes. Finally, I was able to see what all the fuss is about when it comes to Swiss flying – and I was doing it completely alone.

After a couple of hours of the best paragliding imaginable, the wind picked up and it was time for me to head down, down, down to the ground. I spiralled towards Lake Thun, watching its crystal clear water rush towards me as I ended my ride. And then, just like that, it was over. As I packed up my wing and graciously accepted an ice-cold Rugenbräu from fellow pilot Hans, I looked up at those indomitable mountains and smiled as I thought about cruising over them. Paragliding is all about ups and downs – both literally and figuratively – but the apex of this wonderful sport surely exists in the pristine skies above Interlaken.

Intensely interesting interactions in Interlaken

Switzerland is best known for reliable watches, multi-purpose knives, successful tennis players and its lively gangsta rap scene, but all I was really interested in during my visit was climbing a really big mountain and then paragliding into wild. So after bidding adieu to Hamster I headed straight for Interlaken, an adventure playground high up in the Alps that offers something for everyone.

Switzerland (not to be confused with Swaziland – if you’re not sure which one you’re in, just look around and count the black people) is about the size of your average Manly fan’s penis and has great public transport infrastructure, so it’s easy to explore. With some time to kill in Geneva before catching the train to Interlaken, I took a stroll through the buzzing city centre and along Lake Geneva’s lively waterfront. The mixture of history, culture and architecture makes for a stunning place to spend an arvo – shame there was a half-pissed Aussie ruining the authentic Euro feel of the place.

A few hours on a modern train brought me to the fairytale village of Interlaken, with it’s shimmering lakes, cute houses, thunderous mountains and swarms of Chinese tourists. Ignore the throngs of selfie-snapping shitheads and it’s easy to fall in love with the place. The sweet scent of freshly-baked bread and cakes wafts through the streets, and the sound of energetic music competes with bird songs for attention. There’s something beautiful to see on every corner, it’s easy to get around, and there are usually paragliders soaring through the air, so it’s pretty much a slice of heaven.

As the name suggests, Interlaken is in-ter-middle of a couple of wonderful lakes. The water is cold year-round, but slug a few cans of Quöllfrisch and they’re fine to swim in. There are dozens of hikes to take on, a couple of funicular railways that look like they’d be plenty of fun(icular) if they didn’t cost so much, and the opportunity to go bungy jumping, sky diving and jet boating. Whether you’re poor as a dog’s foot or have cash falling out your anus, there’s no reason to be bored in Interlaken.

A word of warning, Interlaken is more expensive than a Filipino mail order bride, and even a night in a bog-standard hotel costs as much as buying a three-bedroom house in Wyong. Luckily, there’s a cheaper option – the less-than-salubrious Balmers Tent Village. The beds aren’t comfortable, the toilets aren’t clean, and the whole shebang feels like its going to blow away in anything more than a gentle breeze, but at least it’s in the price range of your average drunken Aussie. The fact the old birds I was sharing my tent with brought me breakfast in bed each morning didn’t hurt, either (even if it left me wondering whether they’d been sucking me off in my sleep).

Interlaken is the heart of the rugged Bernese Oberland region, but there are lots of great little villages surrounding it, and they’re all worth checking out. I caught the train to Grindelwald – which is sure to put a grin on anyone’s face – and was astonished by how beautiful it was. The mountains are so enormous and imposing they even put the Andes to shame, and as the sun peeked through the clouds and shone off the verdant green pastures and eternal glaciers, I really felt like I was somewhere special.

There’s a cable car to the 2166m-high First summit, but it costs $90, so being a work-shy deadshit budget-conscious backpacker I decided to hike it instead. It’s not a particularly tough trip, and the views are unreal, but it is pretty bloody dangerous. Not because of avalanches or rockslides, but because the path up the hill is shared with Asians scooting back down on go-karts. Our little Oriental mates aren’t great drivers at the best of times, and their skills don’t magically get better when hooning down the side of an astonishingly steep mountain at 150km/h.

When I made it to the top I looked out in wonder at the magnificent landscape in front of me, then got the hell out of there before anyone could ask me to join the search party for the half-a-dozen Chinamen who zoomed off the cliff to their deaths that afternoon. All in all, not a bad way to check out the Swiss Alps, but now it was time to fly over them…

The Rise and Fall of Ricardo Q. Hamster, Esq.

Our time in Annecy flowed along like water down the majestic Thiou River. Hamster and I flew our paragliders over the Alps all day and drank all night with Marque, Gaz and the other legends, soaking in their knowledge of the sport and the surrounds. Our skills and confidence improved as we pushed our limits and tackled tough conditions with our new friends. But things could never remain calm with Hamster around. One night, while a silvery moon lit up the world, our sleep was shattered when Pierre, the owner of the hippie farm we were staying at, burst into our tipi.

“You fucked my scarecrow, you piece of shit,” he screamed, and when Hamster and I crawled out of our sleeping bags we could see that Pierre had tears rolling down his crimson cheeks. “You fucked my scarecrow so hard you broke him in two! Benoit will never be the same again!”

“You’ve only got yourself to blame,” replied Hamster, plucking straw from his underpants and dropping it at Pierre’s feet. “You’re the one who built it to look like the girl who works at the fish and chip shop down the road from my house. The one who smells like mackerel even on her days off and has the man hands. How was I supposed to resist?”

Pierre whistled and a posse of smelly hippies, their lentil-encrusted beards and fishermen pants flapping in the breeze, encircled us. Although emaciated from eating nothing but vegetables and legumes, they had a meanness in their Gallic eyes that told me they’d killed before (people, of course, not animals) and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. One of the tree-huggers was carrying a large, intricately decorated gourd that he was ready to swing at our heads, so we threw a plate of sausages at them and escaped into the night as they recoiled in horror.

“Can’t we have one holiday where you don’t root a scarecrow?” I asked Hamster.

“I would’ve stayed home if I knew that was a rule,” he replied, picking bits of straw from his teeth. “Right, I guess we’re going to have to stay with Gaz, then.”

Gaz, or Gabrielle as his mother knows him, is a pioneer of paragliding and one of the most knowledgeable pilots on the planet. What this bloke doesn’t know about flying ain’t worth knowing, and he’d taken us under his wing. Each night, in a dark corner of L’Auberge Du Boucanier, Gaz would discuss the intricacies of paragliding with us, providing a flying masterclass as the pints of Kronenbourg slid down our throats. Each day when we soared into the skies, he’d watch us with eagle eyes to make sure we’d been listening. We thanked him by knocking on his door at 4am.

Gaz’s life partner Bernard answered, wearing little more than a smile, and ushered us inside. That night, as Gaz sipped Cognac from an ornate skull-shaped glass whilst his balls dangled between the spread legs of his nightie, we were told of the true history of paragliding. Only a handful of people will ever learn of the mystical beginnings of this magical sport, and it was an honour to be entrusted with this knowledge. I promised Gaz that I wouldn’t reveal anything that happened inside his house that morning, and I’ll go to my grave with the secrets he told me, but it’s safe to say Hamster and I now understand paragliding in a way few ever will.

The next afternoon, with our hangovers fading away with our excitement, we flew further than we’d ever flown before. With a more meaningful understanding of paragliding we soared deeper into the bosom of Annecy, skirting around the edges of the pristine lake with our new friends with us every thermal of the way.

A full lap around Annecy is around 50km, and it’s hard work because there aren’t a lot of safe landing options and the terrain can be difficult to handle. I’d like to say Hammy and I made it all the way around, but bad weather approaching meant that we didn’t quite go the whole way, but we were both proud of our efforts. It was great to undertake the journey with such a top bunch of people. By the time we touched down in Doussard and got on the cans, Da Hamsta and I were more than pleased with the time we spent in the blue, blue skies of France.

Doussard is a cracker of a town, and about as traditionally French as a croissant wearing a beret. There are winding cobblestone alleys, baguette vendors on every corner, astonishing views of the Alps and pretty girls on every corner. It’s not only a top place to go paragliding, or a great place to get really drunk, but it’s an astonishing place for anybody to spend a few lazy days.

Unfortunately, later that night Hamster was severely beaten up by a throng of French people who were sick and tired of his antics, and was left brain damaged and in a vegetative state. Fortunately, his wife and children didn’t notice any difference when he got home, so happy days!

The Tour of Annecy

“Put your clothes on and get the fuck out of my house! And please remove my turnip strainer from your anus!”

Just another day in the home on paragliding, Annecy, France. I opened my eyes to see a very bashful, very naked Hamster hurriedly throwing his clothes into his bag. His arms and legs were heavily bruised, and he had bite marks on his abdomen. The owner of the slum we were staying in, Adrian, was waving a carving knife around violently.

“We have to leave right now,” Hamster wept. “I think I’ve made a social faux pas.”

The apartment looked worse than I remembered, which is saying something. Empty beer bottles, blood in the walls, a TV-shaped hole in one of the windows, that sort of thing. I couldn’t really blame Adrian for kicking up a stink. I had a crushing hangover and felt like Antifa had spent the night kicking my head in, but when Hamster says we should vamos, we vamos, so that’s what we did.

I thought we might have to suck dicks in exchange for accommodation but Hamster, as always, had a plan up his sleeve.

“I met a bloke last night who has a tent we can sleep in,” he slurred, and I put plans for prostitution on hold. “He was wearing pants made out of hemp and had a man bun, but how bad can his place be?”

And that’s how Hamster and I ended up sleeping in a tipi in the middle of a hippie commune.

The farm ended up being absolutely wonderful, with wide open fields far below the peaks of the Alps. Accommodation is bloody expensive in this part of the world, so camping is definitely the way to go unless you’re made of money. After settling into the tipi and struggling through a sun worshipping ceremony and 90-minute yoga session, I was keen as mustard to get up the hill and go flying, but Hamster had other things on his mind.

“I’d like to harvest some carrots and then cook a vegan casserole,” he told me, already inspired by his new surroundings. “And Pierre has an interpretive dance workshop that I’d hate to miss, so can we put a pin in the paragliding thingy for now?”

Hamster has a history turning into a hippie for no real reason, so I know the only way to snap him out of it. I slipped a few shots of rum into his kale and quinoa smoothie while he was hugging a tree, and soon he was pulling out man buns left, right and centre and munching sausages in front of horrified vegetarians, so I chucked him in the car and took him up to launch.

The conditions were even better than the day before, and our luck got even better when paragliding guru Marque and the gang rocked up. I’m telling you, the paragliding community is so warm and inclusive, and there are plenty of people willing to share their time and knowledge without expecting anything in return. There were hugs all round, then Marque took us aside with a serious expression on his face.

“I truly believe that you two have what it takes to be legendary gods of the sky,” he said honestly. “Perhaps it is the way you take to the heavens with confidence and skill. Perhaps it’s the way you can drink cheap vodka upside down without vomiting. But today you will take the next step in your training, by completing the Petit Tour du Lac.

The Petit Tour du Lac is the beginner’s circuit around the bottom half of Lake Annecy, and provides a good challenge without the complications that come with going the whole way. It’s not an easy task, but with Marque’s smooth voice wafting through our radios, Hamster and I launched towards our destinies.

I’m telling you, it was rough as guts up there, but we were soon getting great height as we climbed towards the 50 or 60 gliders above us. Once we pulled in 1800 metres of height we jumped over to the next mountain range, and I was close to filling my pants as I sunk out, got thrown around, and generally had a tough time of it. But I made it, Hamster made it, Marque made it, and the view was unreal.

We thermalled up to 2100 metres and then cut across the lake, and that big, blue bugger looks beautiful from a couple of kilometres up. We made it across easily, and soon we were riding above ancient castles and cobblestone streets, before racing along a steep ridge. The view from the top of Doussard was superb, and soon we were spiralling down into the valley, thirsty for an ice cold French beer or 18.

Of course, Marque and the gang got us roaring drunk, and when we were at the point of starting fights with pot plants, the big man took us to the side once more.

“You boys really proved yourselves up there today,” he slurred whilst holding onto the bar to prevent himself falling over. “I think it’s time for you to meet Gabrielle.”

“Sure thing,” I chirped. “Does she have big tits?”

“No, but feel free to give them a squeeze if you want,” said a handsome man with a shock of white hair. “My name is Gabrielle. Or as my friends call me, The Eagle of Annecy.”

It’s not every day you meet perhaps the greatest paraglider pilot of all time, so I might save that story for next time!

Anarchy in Annecy

Wild horses couldn’t have dragged me away from Brazil’s welcoming bosom, but there was one thing that could lure me away – the promise of a few weeks of sublime paragliding above the Alps with Hamster. So I packed my G-string away, skolled my last bottle of Brahma, and hopped on a plane to France. Shit, this unemployment thing can be tough!

The picturesque resort village of Annecy is where paragliding was born 50 years ago, so it’s a place I’ve wanted to visit ever since I first took to the skies, with tears in my eyes and wee running down my legs. As the name suggests, paragliding was invented by a mad Parramatta Eels fan, Pierre LeCoq, who realised it was a good way to escape if his mates ever came home feom work early while he was porking their wives. These days paragliding is loved by pilots around the world, whether they cut their mates’ grass or not.

I was relaxing in the lush Jardins de l’Europe park, drinking a bottle of Kronenbourg and admiring the views, when a high-pitched scream shattered the tranquility. I thought there’d been a terrorist attack, but when I looked up I saw a group of young ladies fleeing in disgust from the clutches of a pervert. The creep was holding a large baguette in front of his crotch like an oversized penis, and was thrusting it at anyone who looked his way. Children were crying, dogs were howling; I’ll tell you what, Hamster sure knows how to make an entrance!

He smelled strongly of faeces, although it was impossible to tell whether it was human or animal. I made him rinse off in one of Annecy’s ancient canals, with the crystal clear water turning a deep shade of brown the moment he slipped in. Despite the commotion this caused, I couldn’t help noticing have magical Annecy is, with its stunning buildings and bright blue lake, nestled in amongst the imposing mountains. If it wasn’t for the thousands of Chinese tourists swarming around, it would feel like it was plucked straight from a fairy tale.

“Right, we’re here for one thing, so let’s do it,” said Hamster, as I reached for my glider and he swaggered into the nearest pub. You’ve gotta respect a bloke who’s got his priorities in order! We spent the first night knocking back delicious local beer in a 400-year-old tavern nestled in the hills above Annecy, talking shit and barely remaining upright. Our outlandish behaviour caught the attention of a gaggle of local pilots, who were at first bemused by our behaviour, but were soon won over when Hamster started farting the French national anthem.

Paragliding instructors, acro madmen, comp pilots and even a world championship runner-up. When I focused my blurry vision, I could recognise each and every one of them from videos I’d watched on YouTube. The most notable figure was Marque, one of the first men to ever fly at Annacy, who rarely speaks to ‘newbies’ but saw something in Hamster and I that caused him to open up and saturate us with his wisdom. The group of pilots sat back and listened with awe at my story of flying 51 kilometres in Manila… or maybe they were just being nice because we bought them a round of drinks. Either way, as we all slipped into drunken comas, they shared wisdom that I will never remember, and promised to take Hammy and I out flying the next day.

The next morning I woke up in the shower, covered in vomit and marinated in a thick broth of shame. I could barely move, let alone think about flying, but a few hours later that was exactly what I was preparing to do. The launch at Col De La Forclaz is 1240m above sea level and the view out over the lake is truly unforgettable. After an inspirational pep talk from Marque, Hamster and I launched in unison, and soared out over that jaw-dropping landscape. I’ve never experienced anything as amazing as those first few moments flying above Annecy.

We spent two blissful hours dancing high above the lake, climbing to 2000m before spiralling towards the pine trees far below. Only the setting sun could bring us down, and when we reluctantly landed in the peaceful village of Doussard, Marque met us with a toothy grin and ice cold beers, his way of welcoming us into ‘Club de Annecy’. After a life-changing experience such as flying over the Alps, those beers tasted like angels were pissing on my tonsils.

We stashed our gliders and rolled into the nearest pub to smash overpriced beers and tell stories about how we’d pretty much flown across Europe that arvo. Hamster dragged the tone down by asking anyone who looked his way if they wanted to ‘pull his reserve’ – until an attractive young lass told him she’d rather fall to her doom than pull his limp noodle. After Marque and the gang passed out in the garden, we met a gap-toothed fortune teller, who told me some very interesting news.”

“Tomorrow, you will fly higher and further than ever before,” she said between hits of her crack pipe. “And your friend, he is going to be thrown out very soon.”

Within seconds, Hamster was chucked out for filling a pot plant with his piss, which filled me with confidence that I’d have a good flight in the morning. Fuck yeah, how good is Annecy!

Santiago Shenanigans

The winds carried me and my bright orange paraglider across the oceans. Over Samoa, where the volcanoes are angry and the people are wonderful. Past Fiji, with its golden beaches and endless reefs. I even swung past Easter Island, which is full of heads bigger and uglier than your ex-girlfriend’s. When the breeze finally dropped me from its loving arms, I found myself in a strange city surrounded by imposing mountains and populated by the most beautiful women I’d ever seen. I asked a little bloke who was digging through a bin where I was, and he told me, “Senor, you is in San Diego!”

“No I’m fucking not,” I told him, looking around at the throngs of people who swept around us. “I’ve been to San Diego and the women have arse cracks you could park a Sid Fogg’s in. And I haven’t had a wannabe tough guy try to stab me with a rusty kitchen knife yet. Where am I really?”

“Not San Diego, fuckwit,” he spat, whilst juggling a soccer ball. “You is in chilly!”

“It’s not chilly, you goose, it’s about 24 degrees and sunny,” I chuckled, then swaggered off to check out my surroundings.

Turns out I was in a place called Santiago, Chile, which I would’v learnt earlier if the locals didn’t run me around in circles. I traded my paraglider in for a six-pack of Austral and started exploring, and ended up discovering one of the most unusual cities I’ve been to It can be beautifu one minute, with elegant European buildings, exotic parks and brightly-coloured houses, and hideous the next, with poverty and dirt smeared everywhere. In many ways it reminds me of South African cities, with two disparate worlds somehow existing together.

Santiago is known for its food, and I was bombarded with options as I walked around. The mouth-watering scent of sizzling beef and chicken wafts through the streets, and it seems like the locals are constantly shoving something in their gobs. The main options are empanadas, which are a relation of the glorious meat pie, and completos, which are fully-loaded hotdogs. My dad has often regaled me with stories of all the foot-longs he gobbled in South America, so I was relieved to discover he was actually talking about hotdogs, and not man-dogs. There are also plenty of pizza places and hamburger shops, so if you’re looking to chuck on some weight this is where you should be.

I saw a big hill with some sort of statue at the top, so I downed an icy cold can in one gulp and sauntered that way to see what was up. The path up to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal is poorly signposted and difficult to find (and possibly closed, since there was a big barrier in the way), but that didn’t stop meclimbing up there. The path is poorly maintained and eroded in many places, but the sweeping views back over Santiago make it more than worthwhile. Once I made it to the top, I realised there’s a cable carand some sort of train that canbe usedto scale it easily, but unless you’re a fat cunt or you once stepped on a landmine, I suggest making the 45 minute trek.

The main reason for scaling San Cristóbal is to check out the view, but that’s not all that’s up there. The statue, as it turns out, is of the Virgin Mary and stands 14 metres tall. Alright, she’s not as big as certain other hilltop religious statues I’ve encountered, but she’s still pretty impressive. There are also cafes (that don’t serve beer – trust me, I asked) and some little museums that I didn’t bother with. If you ever visit Santiago, you’ll end up at San Cristóbal at some point it would be like going to New York and not visiting the Statue of Liberty, or going to Wyong and not shitting on the floor of the public toilets.

I was pulling down my shorts so that I could takeone of my popular Drunk and Jobless World Tour Nude Selfies™ when a couple of horse police (police on horses, I mean. Not horses who have found emplyment in the police force) rocked up and politely suggested I fuckoff. I’m grabbed a cheap room in a hipster-filled part of the city known as Bellavista, which if full of bars and live music joints. Energetic Chilean rock bounces between the intricately-painted buildings and smoking hotsenoritas walk around in next to nothing, so it’s the place to be. The bars are great, with plenty of al fresco seating options, but the beers are a bit pricey – around six Aussie dollaridgeridoos each. The quality is top notch though, with Kross Golden proving a standout.

Needless to say, I got smashed on cheap supermarket beer in a nearby park and passed out halfway through eating a chicken and olive stuffed empenada. I’m stoked to be exploring my sixth continent (which means I’ve hit them all, except for the one that’s run by penguins) and have decided to hang around for the next nine or so weeks, so stick around for more mesmerising entries. Chile is already surprising and delighting me, and I can’t wait to see what else this bonkers country has to offer.

Miles High in Manilla

Ask most people about Manilla and they’ll mention streets overflowing with sewage, drug-crazed violence and X-rated ping pong shows. But that’s the Filipino version, and when you mention the name to a paragliding pilot, they’re more likely to talk about epic thermals, heart-stopping collapses and vast distances covered while strapped to a glorified Coles shopping bag. I headed out there for the recent State of Origin comp, and it was ace.

Unidentified individual, Aido, Your Drunken Hero, Tommy the Legend, Matty

For a village of 2300 people that’s right out in the middle of fucking nowhere, Manilla is actually a really nice place. There’s a pretty river, good restaurants and an awesome pub run by Uncle Tommy, who’s a deadset legend. The beer’s cold, the schnitzels are fatter than Rebel Wilson’s arse, and there’s usually a sheila around willing to grab your donk for a bourbon and coke. That first night I got hammered there with Aidan and Matty, a couple of pilots from around my way who prove that not all of the younger generation is adsicted to sending dick pics on their phones and drinking paint for YouTube videos. I think I woke up under a bush.

Shitting myself on launch. I pretended it was the roos

I was feeling dustier than a wombat’s wang the next morning, but I shook off the fog and headed up the hill to join the competition. Conditions were spectacular and, after almost hitting the deck three minutes after launching, I hooked a thermal up to 2600m and started heading north. With a strong southerly I was scooting along at more than 60km/h and picking up lift the whole day, meaning I made it 50.34km before landing – a new personal best! What an awesome way to spend my birthday! Alright, let’s not mention that the Bombastic Bednal Brothers both bested me.

And shitting myself at around 1500 metres. Maybe I have IBS?

I hitched a ride back to the Royal, where I smashed beers and met a swagman who told me he’d once eaten the barman’s pet turtle. I don’t know if he lost a bet or was just hungry, but he seemed pretty pleased with himself. Ah, Manilla is full of characters, which is one reason I love the bush. People rarely acknowledge each other in the cities, but in out-of-the-way places it’s possible to meet a truly facinating person every day of the week. As the sun was setting, things took a turn for the truly bizarre when a highly unusual man walked into the pub wearing a dog as a backpack.

I hope he doesn’t start pissing! And I don’t mean the dog…

When the rest of the gang finally made it back from wherever they’d landed, we hit the sauce hard, celebrating a great day of flying above the beautiful countryside. However, the good mood was soon shattered by a commotion in the beer garden. I raced out there to see a familiar figure brawling with a group of tough-looking locals.

Scotty showing the extent of his dramatic range

Scotty kicked one in the balls, tipped another into a garbage bin, and bonked the third over the head with a chair. With the hard work done, he wiped the gore from his swollen fists, slicked back his glorious mullet and greeted us with his award-winning smile. After being implicated in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa (which was made worse by the fact they weren’t his balls), Scotty had been keeping things low-key, but was now ready to show the paragliding world what he was made of.

“The trophy is mine,” he sneered, swaggering over to a young lady and pinching her on the bottom. “You chumps might as well go home, play with your Barbie doll. Tomorrow I fly 1000 kilometre. Maybe I land on the moon. It depend what I feel like.”

I spent most of the flight watching my wing flutter around like an epileptic chicken… but it served me well!

Unfortunately for Scott, the trophy wasn’t to be his. Later that night he was shot whilst attempting to steal tomato sauce sachets from the local takeaway shop and was unable to compete due to massive blood loss. The rest of us had a great day, flying west in bumpy conditions, with Matt and Aiden smashing their personal bests (and well and truly outflying me), whilst some other pilots pushed out towards Narabri. I landed next to some sort of dorky-looking horse thing.

Me and popular television homosexual Josh Thomas

The first two days were good, but it was the third day that separated the priests from the boys (or however that saying goes). The conditions were difficult, with weak thermals and a tough launch, and I again found myself heading for the bombout within minutes. I was only metres from the ground when I finally found some lifty air and climbed up to 2000 metres. That was enough for me to get going, and I spent the next three hours scratching away for any height I could get, and slowly crabbing north. By the time I made it to Barraba some of the boys were already pissed at the local bowlo, so I prepared to land and get on the cans. But a rogue thermal carried me away, and I ended up landing 48km from launch – putting me in the top 10 for the day. Best of all, the rest of the boys did so well that we ended up finishing fifth out of, I dunno, let’s say 1000 teams. And let’s not mention that Aido and Matt’s team beat us.

Eleven of the coolest people you could ever hope to meet at launch, a dog, and a gatecrasher in the middle

I touched down next to a bull who looked like he either wanted to fight me or fuck me, so I bundled up and jumped over a barbed wire fence. Once back at the bowlo, I proceeded to get epically smashed, and we all ended up back at Tom’s that night for bulk drinks. I was stoked with my performance – 120km over three days was more than I could’ve hoped for – and happy to have spent a long weekend with some great people. The next morning I jumped back in my glider and launched from Mount Borah one more time. I went up and up and up, before heading east. Over the mountains, over the beaches, over the oceans, until I landed somewhere very interesting indeed…

Bright ‘n’ Beautiful!

With a sunny name like Bright, it’s obvious that this tiny Victorian village is a pretty happy place. And why wouldn’t it be? It’s a Mecca for cyclists, hikers, skiiers and paragliders from around the world. I can barely keep a bike upright, walking uphill makes my legs hurt, and snow makes my pee-pee shrink, so I went there to get some epic flying in – and it was mission complete as far as I’m concerned.

Most paragliding hotspots are in the middle of nowhere and infested with buck-toothed inbreds, so I was shocked to discover that Bright is a lovely cluster of houses in the mountains. Honestly, the place looks like it was built with postcards in mind. With so many adventure sports calling it home, there are no shortage of pubs, restaurants and awesome little shops to explore. It’s a picturesque spot that’s worth a visit even if you don’t like jumping or sliding or riding off high things.

There are a thousand incredible hikes through the Alps that surround the town, but if you’re not that adventurous (or have to be ready to fly at midday, like me) the Canyon Walk is a pretty special way to spend an hour or so. It starts near themain street and follows the bubbling Ovens River for a few kilometres, passing old gold mines and crossing dodgy suspension bridges. The best thing is that no point of it is far from one of Bright’s great pubs, so if the stroll gets boring, you can go and sink piss till you pass out.

The number of cashed-up tourists who pass through Bright means that there are bucketloads of attractions to check out, with local wine tours and the epic Wandiligong Maze being highlights. Seriously, that thing is massive, so take a packed lunch or stop off at the well-stocked cafe outside before you enter. There also seems to be a bit of action in the public toilets after dark, according to this hastily-scribbled sign. I slipped my pecker under the wall, but the fella in the next stall just threatened to step on it.

The exquisitely-landscaped water park and picnic area that straddles the river is very close to town and popular with people of all ages. It’s the perfect place to cool down on a hot day, with diving boards and splishy-splashy water jets, and the massive slippery dip that descends into the cooling water is plenty of fun. Just watch out, because I saw a sicko weeing (or should that be Wheen-ing?) onto it, so don’t be surprised if it’s a bit sticky.

I was there to do a fly, and it really is a fucking great place to go paragliding (and you don’t need to have experience – there are plenty of companies that would love to take you for a tandem). Mystic Mountain looms large over the town, and has a brilliant launch out over the valley. It’s a world-class place to get high, and with clear blue skies and plenty of thermals popping everywhere, I couldn’t wait to chuck myself off the hill and see what would happen.

Bright looks great from the ground, but the best view of this quaint mountain hamlet is from 2000m up in the air, while strapped to a lawn chair and a glorified plastic bag. There were a few bumps here and there, and I was so scared I almost cried at one point, but I’ve gotta say the flying in Bright is sensational. People come from around the world to explore the skies above Bright, and I met people with all sorts of funny accents up on launch. If you’re the sort of nutter who enjoys paragliding, you need to check it out.

I had four unreal days sailing through the sky, and really improved my skills and blasted through my expectations. The gang I of scoundrels I was with all managed impressive flights, too. I even made it over to the nearby township of Harritville a few times. There’s a really nice pub there, so I wasn’t going to land short, was I? Bright surprised me with its stunning good looks and wide range of things to see and do (and drink). I’m proud of my achievements in the air, and I’m already counting down the days until I return to this unreal patch of Australia. Although I might have one or two places to visit before then…

WHERE: Bright, Victoria. 321km north of Melbourne, in the heart of the majestic Ovens Valley

WHAT’S THERE? A huge mountain to hike up, cycle down, or paraglide off. A delightful river. A picture-perfect town full of restaurants, pubs and kooky little shops

IF YOU’RE THIRSTY: Even a blind bloke could find a pub there, but I recommend the Alpine – the food’s grouse

AND IF YOU’RE STILL HUNGRY: There’s a top pie shop near the Alpine. I think they even provide free sauce

WHAT ARE THE WOMENFOLK LIKE? During ski season the joint is crawling with good sorts, but it can be slim pickings outside of that time. In Autumn, when people descend on the town to see the leaves change, you could probably pick up a granny pretty easily

FUN FACT: The town was originally known as Schittsville, but the name was changed to Bright to appeal to tourists. It was probably a good decision