take me away

What memories captivate us—those fortunate enough never to worry about their next meal—while bussing to work, queueing at the bank, or sitting through another pointless office meeting?

Is it the dessert that Balwyn babes, Sheree and Shona, blitzed the Bankstown wannabes with on My Kitchen Rules? Or is it half-back Paul Buckworth kicking the conversion to win the State of Origin? Maybe it's getting plastered at a poolside bar on a group holiday in Bali? I hope not.

The memories that call me away are of less mediated, more serendipitous affairs, which is why travel of a certain kind appeals to me. Not a Contiki tour of Scandinavia, all-inclusive package to Phuket, or P&O cruise through the Caribbean. I mean travel unencumbered by daily schedules, set accommodation, set menus, and unavoidable company. Of course, such travel isn't the only route to happenstance, but for me it delivers in spades.

One of my most memorable instances from recent years is of a balmy evening on the tiny Loyalty Island of Mouli. I'd walked from my beach-side thatched gîte to sit on a coconut-palm log and catch the sun minutes before it set along an otherwise empty stretch of beach. With barely a ripple on the lagoon, my tranquility was broken at a distance by a male voice singing along to guitar strumming.

From the village behind me, the melody grew nearer. I realised then, my unexpressed delight in hearing a song sung in French, while gazing toward the nearest star setting over the South Pacific Ocean. Soon enough, the figure of a lissome young Kanak man wearing only quarter-length frayed denim shorts and an old straw hat—playing a guitar which had seen better days—approached. He looked at me and smiled while singing. I smiled in return. He didn't interrupt his beautiful ballad, when without hesitation he sat beside me.

Together we watched the sun disappear for what must have been only ten minutes—my singing guitarist seamlessly slipping between a few tunes. I looked at him again and smiled, when I remembered that I'd promised to meet newly-found friends for kava!

With assumed familiarity, I momentarily rested my hand on my serenader's shoulder and clumsily absented myself. "Excusez-moi, s'il vous plaît," I said as I stood and smiled, before returning to my gîte.

What unpredictably remarkable moments take you away?

  Île Ko Ngeaa Ke, Nouvelle-Calédonie 2012

Île Ko Ngeaa Ke, Nouvelle-Calédonie 2012