To test their mettle, big-wave surfers hold a few spots close to their hearts: Waimea Bay, Mavericks in California, Todos Santos off Mexico. But there’s one wave in Australia that puts these to shame. And it’s usually about a mile straight up.

To test their mettle, big-wave surfers hold a few spots close to their hearts: Waimea Bay, Mavericks in California, Todos Santos off Mexico. But there’s one wave in Australia that puts these to shame. And it’s usually about a mile straight up.

The aptly named Morning Glory is a stunning solitary rolling cloud wave that forms over the Gulf of Carpentaria early on spring mornings. With a length of up to 1000km, it even made the Guinness Book and only in Australia can you regularly witness its series of long, cigar-shaped clouds (Sep-Nov).

And Morning Glory doesn’t just get meteorologists hot under the collar; it’s also a hit with hordes of pilots and hang gliders. In October 1989, Robert Thompson and Russell White went soaring on the Morning Glory for the first time, and some of their flights since have lasted over three hours.

The cloud is created when sea breezes from either side of Cape York collide, creating a singular wave (or Soliton) in the atmosphere. The powerful and fast-moving crest of the wave is what you can suddenly see in the otherwise blue sky. There’s an updraft at the leading edge of the cloud and hang gliders love riding the wave at great speed.

Where // Far northwest Qld’s Gulf of Carpentaria. Burketown in the southeast corner of the Gulf is a good spot to regularly witness the cloud. More info at www.morningglorycloud.com

Did you know? // There’s an official Cloud Appreciation Society based in the UK, with members all over the world. One of its creeds is that “clouds are unjustly maligned and that life would be immeasurably poorer without them.” It’s curiously riveting website is www.cloudappreciationsociety.org 

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