The wind river

It is Sunday, market day, and the park in front of the jetty is busy with stalls. There is the usual assortment of junk and craft, jewellery and condiments. One row sells fresh fruit and vegetables. Blueberries are in season, replacing the bananas that this city is known for, though their farms are in decline.

Food vans and stall corral an eating area. I try Syrian kubba, while Alex eats burritos. 
There is a long and interesting conversation about turtle conservation at a stall run by the local council and Dolphin Conservation Park and the challenges of the young hatchings. 
We wander out on to the broad wooden jetty, feeling the stiff breeze against our skin, fighting with the warmth of the bright sun. Then we walk across to the fishermen’s market for cooked prawns, taking them back to the motel room. 
It is also the first day of daylight saving, and Alex has woken me up too early. I nap in the room for a while, before being dragged out for a drive down to Sawtell. 
The small beachside town is thronging with visitors and locals, old cars passing through the main street belching foul fumes that remind us of how much better moderns cars can be. We queue for and wait maybe half an hour at Sea Salt for fish and chips. 
Alex and B demand to take out the, as yet unused, sun shelter, but when we arrive at the fine white sand it is far too windy. They dig a crater instead and watch the few swimmers out between the flags. 
It is too hot and windy to stay long, so after finishing our lunch, crunching on grains of sand blown on to the oily batter, we return to the car. Where to now? 
The Coffs Harbour Mini Golf course is small and without the gimmicks of others we have visited, but it proves a fun challenge. Possibly because her arms escaped the paddling of the previous day, both of us boys are roundly beaten by B’s unorthodox grip golf skills. 
Another afternoon nap, dreaming to music. 
It is late in the day when we walk again down to the beach, white capped waves blowing into the broad sandy shores. I hiccup the entire way. 
We walk through a green tunnel of pandanus and coastal shrubs alongside the beach, take an exit out on to the sand. 
Shallow Coffs Creek separates the two ends of the beach. We wade across to the other side, where wind rivers of sand dance across the ground like ghostly memories of waterways past. 
As we turn back I recall our last visit, the clouds reflected in the mirror of the shallows. There are no clouds today. Instead the reflect my thoughts. I remember back a few years ago at the peak of my travel anxiety, trapped in a Singaporean hotel room wondering if I could ever travel overseas again. Maybe I would have to restrict myself to train and car within Australia. 
Now such a time has come to pass and rather than relief I feel a sadness not to be flying. I watched the flight to Sydney depart and regretted not being aboard, despite the ferocious wind. 
Yet there was also a sense of contentment just to be there on the beach in the fresh clean air. 
At the end of the beach a working dog breed and a scruffy terrier race to catch a tennis ball hit into the sea, the short legged terrier having no hope but still standing by his faster friend. 
We return to the hotel for a cold dinner of leftover potato salad and chicken, the morning’s cooked prawns and local blueberries, pleasure in simplicity and in the end of another day.