Time in Ballina was not planned, but the wind was due to die out and we didn’t want to be stuck motoring our way to somewhere safe to pull in – which basically would have been the Tweed River. The timing was right for the Richmond River bar, although it did look a little bit daunting, we checked it out both on the web cam and also by scouting around the entrance a bit before making a move. It was fine – good to be out of the sea and back on to the flatness of a new river.
Despite how big the Richmond River is, there are only two public moorings near town, although we later realised we could have pulled up for a little while at a jetty. Happily, one of the two moorings was free and we nabbed it. The other mooring was occupied by an empty boat, the Edna Frances – she had no dinghy and no one aboard for the whole time we were there. Such a beautiful boat…
The tide in the Richmond River, while not quite as epic as Port Macquarie or Forster/Tuncurry, was pretty crazy. I could hear the water sluicing past the hulls from the inside of the boat as it was sucked out to sea. Ballina – town of op-shops – is also a good place to provision, there’s a supermarket right near the jetty where you can tie up the dinghy. We got rid of at least three bags of stuff we no longer use/require, but of course, did not leave empty handed, because I found a dress, Small Z found a jacket and Small DB found a hat – plus we got about 20 copies of Green Magazine for fifty cents each – they make us happy – fuel for tiny home dreams.
And it seems like it’s been a while, but the tooth fairy, ever reliable, visited us in Ballina – her name, apparently, was Lily.
Before we left yesterday, we went for a wander down the main street. I’d seen Byron Bay pies in a juice bar – haven’t had one for years and they have an excellent gluten free pepper steak version that I used to buy when I was a house dweller with an oven. I thought the Smalls might like pies as well…I don’t know if they’ve ever even eaten one, because we never see ones that are gluten free. There were two women behind the counter, and four less than thrilling pies sitting in the pie warmer. There was an overwhelming smell of disinfectant.
“Excuse me,” said Small Z politely, “Is the chicken in your pies free range?” (She’s been binging on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s television program, River Cottage Treatment where he tries to wean people from processed and ethically bankrupt food on to home cooking.
The two women looked at each other, had a swift silent conversation with their eyes, and both nodded in stereo, plastering on grins.
“Oh yeah, I reckon they put some free range in it.”
I couldn’t help it, and laughed. They presumed I was complicit, and included me in their small conspiracy.
“Oh!” said Small Z sensing treachery, “I might have the beef…”
I cut in. “Are those pies the gluten free ones?”
The grins evaporated. One of them went back to sweeping the floor
“Nah, if we’ve got gluten free, they’d be on the top shelf.”
“Oh, okay. We can’t eat them then. Thanks anyway.”
As we exited on to the street, I heard the sweeping older woman say loud enough so we could hear her,
“A dead chook’s a dead chook.”
I turned around and swiftly debeaked her, hissing; “A dead chook’s a dead chook,” as she twitched out of sight behind the counter.
We walked a bit further down the street and thankfully happened upon Sirocco Cafe – where they had the best iced mocha I’ve ever had.
We left Ballina at 1pm and pulled in at Byron Bay just before sundown. It’s an ocean anchorage, but very doable if the conditions are right. They weren’t too bad at all. As soon as we dropped the anchor I got a text message, “Bettttthhhhh, is that you?” It was my lovely friend Jen, sitting in her (presumably) fancy borrowed beach house at Belongil with a view of the water.
It was too dark to take Foamy in on to the beach, and the only workable spot was well away from Belongil at the Pass. We had to forego a visit – they had stuff on the following morning, we wanted to make miles before the wind dropped out, hoping to anchor at the Gold Coast Seaway over night, so we didn’t get to catch up. Next time. Today so far has been a bit more wavy than I’d hoped for, and so far – no whales!