With buoyant enthusiasm and lighthearted fortitude, the hike begins. By the completion of this hike, 15 kilometres will be in our legs, our bodies feeling every one of them, and our heads will be full of memories that our cameras will hold for safekeeping.
Someone has unobtrusively shown the track, the way forward, however, not without leaving challenges.
Pink ribbons reveal themselves almost reluctantly out of the green haze of the Christmas Island rainforest as if they are playing a game of hide and seek. The only certainty is our handheld GPS is aware of the way in technology we trust.
The track is partially there. If you look hard, you’ll see it appear and, just as quickly, it disappears again. You have embarked on Virgin Christmas Island, an area so sparsely visited that the wilderness of the island is still in control and holds the balance of power.
Our final destination.
Adventure is in the journey, not the destination. As you venture into this walk, the realisation quickly dawns on you that the track will be non-existent for most of this tramp.
The rainforest canopy closes in above you, consequently blocking all but a slither of the sky. The air is heavy, and sweat drips out of you. Without a doubt, a puff of wind would be a delight.
Groves of pandanus, spikey and shapely, decorate the rainforest while holding the breeze at bay. It’s an incredible windbreak.
The way forward is a job for only the sharpest machetes, for only they stand a chance of success.
The air is thick, humidity renders your shirt a dripping mass of sweat, and your gained walking stick collected off the ground along the way helps you plot the way forward.
You are now passing through pristine Christmas Island wilderness, isolated, and the wrong place to come to any grief. Help is a long way away.
There is a plethora of things to look at. However, you don’t dare take your eyes off your next step. Jagged volcanic rocks litter the way forward, crab holes render the ground under your feet soft, and spider webs hang waiting for the unsuspecting, the unfortunate who’s not paying attention.
Booby Birds nest on the ground on Christmas Island.
Every walk on Christmas Island begins with a downhill section. This one is no different, as you pick your way over and through the sharp areas of rock you can’t help but let your mind wander to how hard it is going to be as you drag your exhausted frame one step at a time back up the hill to the car come to the end of the day.
Hiking along the flat terraced section, which accounts for most of the journey, the escarpment towers above, not that you can see it. It’s the land of the giants, down on the ground.
Large old-growth trees dot the landscape like sentinels.
The trees are large enough that their canopies block all but slithers of the sky. Regularly fallen trees punch holes in the canopy. The light filters through like an ethereal scene, and strangler figs take hold in the most obscure locations.
Gaps in the canopy caused by fallen trees allow light to filter through.
It’s sometimes difficult to see the forest through the trees. Rainforests are a messy canvas of stunning individuals. One has to calibrate their eye to isolate the astonishing from the overwhelming.
In the stillness of the humid surroundings, signs of critters are everywhere, and white mosaics of bird scat decorate the rocks along the route, a dead giveaway that the Abbotts Booby is way up above. You can hear it, however, it’s barely seen.
The island’s frenetic gardeners, the famous Red Crabs, are mostly underground during the drier months of the tropical winter. They have cultivated the top layer of soil so well that the ground collapses under your feet as you walk.
Frequently seen, Coconut or Robber crabs slowly scuttle around. These medieval creatures of stunning colouration are a treat to observe.
Christmas Island – Coconut Crabs.
After hours of strenuous walking, a shift in the landscape, kissing the sweat on your face is a sweet delight in the ocean breeze. Within reach the beach, a rest, and a swim.
The salty breeze replaces the heavy atmosphere of the rainforest and hearing the orchestral crashing of waves and bird song is an instant recharge. Spring returns to your step.
Emerging from a prickly clamour through the pandanus reveals the expanse of Egeria Point, surveying the surrounds the enormity of this part of the island is apparent.
Imposing Sea Cliffs, Egeria Point, Christmas Island
Egeria Point, Christmas Island
The cliffs are imposing, their enormity spellbinding. Booby Birds glide on the thermals, going about their routines without a worry in the world about the added audience that has wandered into their realm.
Completely undeterred by its audience. Lift-off is eminent for this Christmas Island Brown Booby.
The Indian Ocean wildly crashes into the island’s fringing reef, overflow from thunderous waves spills into an emphatically beautiful pool. This will be a special swim.
Egeria Point is a jewel in the Christmas Island crown. Perhaps it’s best-kept secret.
Not everyone who visits Christmas Island will get to see this place. For many, it’s a bridge too far.
The walk is long and punishing, wild and pristine, the wilderness obvious, the reward divine.
Knowing wild places like this exist is one thing, living and breathing them is quite another.
Difficult tracks often lead to beautiful places. My experiences continue to ring true to this. The search for island treasures continues. Often the treasures that nourish one’s soul are richer than the ones that fill your pockets.