Tree branches, like two extended arms reaching for each other’s outstretched fingertips, form an archway leading to a place unlike any other, a world where time has no bearing.
One wave after another caresses Stradbroke Island’s sedate shoreline, our feet sinking into the soft, silky sand. It’s the type of satisfaction reminiscent of resting your head on a goose down pillow after an exhausting day.
The beach, barring a flock of seagulls circling above like starving vultures, was completely ours. I felt like Tom Hanks from Castaway, but unlike him, hoped there was no way off this peaceful paradise.
Everyone experiences a day they hope lasts forever, a perpetual escape from reality. This was one of those days.
As I chased the seagulls like an exuberant youngster without a care in the world and sauntered across the untrodden, unblemished sand, I peered out onto the vast expanse of the deep blue, the magnitude of which would leave even the most experienced seafarer speechless.
Shining and glimmering bright, the sun did its utmost to fight off the cloud’s menacing advances. Time was of the essence as the sun, with all of its energy, power and might, would remain uninhibited for only so long.
Dashing toward the Pacific Ocean’s wide open, gaping mouth with pace and intent I dove under a wave, my head popping up like an otter coming up to draw breath. I quickly realised how startlingly cold and refreshing the water is on Australia’s eastern coast in late autumn.
Wide-eyed and alert, I exited the frigid water before the sun became completely blanketed by cloud cover. As temperamental as a baby’s emotions, the skies opened up, battering the ocean and shoreline indiscriminately, with conviction and fury.
There was something ironically calming about the volatility with which the sky pelted the otherwise tranquil shoreline.
I would have stood up to Mother Nature’s wrath had it not been for the expensive electronic items I was compelled to protect, or so I tell myself. Invigorated, refreshed and full of life, I headed for shelter.
Almost as quickly as it began the violent storm subsided, calm once again prevailing across the island. The sun poked its head out once more as I sipped my perfectly made flat white.
Unlike Tom Hanks’ perilous plight on Castaway, Straddie unfortunately does offer a way off of the island. A bus – although running less frequently than Rosie O’Donnell – transported me to a ferry for the final connection to mainland Australia.
The day, like every moment I hope lasts forever, felt as though it had evaporated in a flash.
Every moment, however, from my Straddie retreat, like the cave inscriptions of Ashoka, is forever etched and indelibly inscribed. I even had the pleasure of running into a lonesome – and more surprisingly awake koala – and a wandering kangaroo, underlining the already quintessentially Australian day on the island.
If ever entrenched in inconsolable despair, or asked to think of a happy place, my mind will immediately refer back to this day on serene Straddie, my Neverland and euphoric escape from reality.