Birchip Big K Week.
Birchip has always been Mecca for car-tow hang gliding in Victoria. The weather is reliable, the paddocks are large enough for towing and the road network make retrievals easy. Pilots have been coming to this area to fly since before the Easter competition began in 1993 in smaller groups at different times of the year.
In 2011 one of these groups of pilots who had been flying regularly in the area put out an invitation to all to come fly together in Birchip for the last week of November.
Prior to this, many pilots had only flown in Birchip at The Flatter than the Flatlands competition. This competition has always catered to entry level pilots and is held during Autumn in March/April. At this time of year thermals are generally subdued which is more suited to those with less experience.
Since it's inception in 2011, Big K week has always been held on the last weekend in November until the following weekend. This time was chosen for several reasons. It does not conflict with any other competitions, It is late Spring so thermal strength & height is near optimal, It is during the grain harvest in the area so there are lots of harvesters and other vehicles driving in paddocks triggering easy to find thermals.
The inaugural Big K week was well attended by Vic & SA pilots. Most of us stayed at "The Ponderosa" a house in the main street of Birchip owned by HG pilots Andy & Jo. Many pilots achieved personal best flights that year with some pilots exceeding 300km. Pilots have been returning year after year for the comraderie and opportunity to exceed thier own PBs.
These days everybody camps at Tchum Lake where the amenities are great. There is a camp kitchen and function room large enough to do some glider maintenance & tuning if it's a rainy day.
It's a fun week of camping with mates and the bonus is you get to fly (almost) every day if you want to. There is no official organisation of this week. It's not a competition. There are no trophies. It is all up to the individual pilots to form tow teams and set tasks/goals. If you are a tow endorsed HG pilot it's a great week not to be missed!
Currently the open distance record from the Jil Jil Paddock is by Adam Stevens landing 399.5km to the NE at Cargellico. There is clearly potential to improve upon this. In early December 2014, Scott Barrett areo-tow launched from Boort (75 km from Jil Jil) and flew an ATOS rigid wing hang glider 570km to a declared goal 90km NW of Broken Hill.
To see some of the distances flown by pilots in previous years have a look at this google map Big K distance flown map