A stranger tells me things have changed. He hasn’t lived here for years. He points across the inlet. That’s Palm Beach. Earlier I’d been driving south out of a Covid-19 funk from weeks at home on a laptop. Sick of my face in a square on a screen with the rest of the zoom-bie crowd. Dr Who lost in cyberspace.
At the back of my holiday apartment, Flat Rock Creek looks like a lake. In its world among the reeds, a great egret. A solitary traveller like me. As I stroll around its border, a constellation of magpie geese, dusky moorhens, ibises and pacific black ducks steadily makes way for my incursion. They retreat into grasses, branches and water, but the black swans preen themselves beside their downy offspring. They don’t even give me a second look. I keep looking at the birds on the water. Their wakes trailing like a shawl. I take mine off.
On the coast, the light dazzles. A universe filled with humans and their young, covering the rocks and beach with surfboards, flippers, wet suits, dolls with their miniature furniture, sand castles fashioned by small, salty hands. A man and his daughter walk slowly out towards the ocean. They’re in the shallows, gazing down, as if looking for something they’ve lost. In the distance, the giant concrete stacks of Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise.