On route across the water to North Bay, the impending silhouette of Mount Eliza jaunts up into the open sky like a menacing dorsal fin. You don’t see many dorsal fins around here, which is why this shape strikes such an imposing figure on the northern horizon.
I’ve arrived in a kayak with a purpose. I want to get high. High up on the ledge of the northern most tip of the island. I want to view the geological landform of this island in its entirety, from a fresh angle, an expansive one. I want to feel like I’m in the middle of the ocean, and I want to be humbled by this island’s magnificence.
I know where I’m heading so before I stop to think I’m already busting through the lush basin of North Bay. About half way up, pockets of the lagoon pop into focus. From here on, it’s a hunched over scramble up a scraggly track. This jagged ridge line elicits an ‘off piste’ adventurous feel to the climb. I like it. It feels like I’m climbing an actual mountain. And then within minutes, I’m there.
The plateau’s vegetation is wind swept. Despite the dawn to dusk panoramic views up here, these bushes have had a tough time clinging on for dear life. There are a few brave Golden orb spiders, their steely zig-zag webs cross the path, jam packed with the innocent insects caught up in the cross winds cascading down the cliff.
Upon summiting, that instant feeling of mans’ inferiority in the face of nature is ever present. It’s a feeling that has been gradually building the higher we climbed, like a rising tide in a sinking bathtub.
I’ve always found the open ocean mesmerising and standing atop of this peak at the northern most tip of this island, that feeling is handed to me on a metaphorical plate. I’m standing on the edge of a ledge, 150m high, sandwiched between a powdered baby blue sky and a deep dark violet blue blanket of ocean.
White wash froths down below, the iridescent blues and greens pop Old Gulch into another light – a dazzling open swimming pool delight. It looks incredibly inviting for a swim, nothing intimidating about it from up here. It’s funny what a birds-eye perspective can do and what a perspective the Red-tailed tropicbirds have from up here. The precipitous cliffs of Kims and Malabar are exposed in full glory, speckled with moving dots of white confetti like wings.
An unnatural groan rumbles in from the east, a Qantas Dash-8 plane is gliding in at eye level. We instinctively wave. It’s a Lord Howe thing. Wave at cyclists, wave at cars, wave at planes.
It’s hard to focus up here at first, there’s so much to take in, your eyes are dancing about more than the Red-tailed tropicbirds, who seem to be salsa dancing around these cliffs. What truly glorious birds. Mini Albatrosses. Elegant and graceful in the air, their pointy red arrowed tails compliment their mystique.
If you want to get up close and personal to these birds, this is the place. They swoop above the precarious ledges where they nest, hovering and back peddling, a bit unsure as if they’ve just knocked on the wrong door.
There is a reason why so many travel magazines have this shot on their glossy cover. It’s got the wow factor. From all angles. Open ocean to the north is nothing short of spellbinding. The spectacular exposed cliffs of Malabar and the disjointed Admiralty Islands to the east, breathtaking. However the glory shot is to the south, with its 11km of green and blue, eye-ball popping, lagoon laden, mountain busts. This is it. A photographer’s dream on a warm sunny day