The grave is­sue of bucket lists

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - GRA­HAM ER­BACHER

Bucket list is a term I’ve never warmed to. Pop­u­larised by the 2007 movie of the same name star­ring Jack Ni­chol­son and Mor­gan Freeman, it’s the things you must do, and of­ten places to visit, be­fore you “kick the bucket”. There’s quite a few of those books with thou­sands of ac­tiv­i­ties to com­plete be­fore you die, too. The Grim Reaper loom­ing over mat­ters doesn’t ap­peal to me. It goes with­out say­ing, doesn’t it?

But, of course, we all have our wish­lists and how hard that can make plan­ning the next trip. Do you re­lent­lessly pur­sue new des­ti­na­tions or fall back on places you know you’ll love, even down to the ho­tel room num­ber?

If you’re ever in a fix on this is­sue, let serendip­ity make the call and take a mys­tery flight. A few years ago I used to en­joy do­ing that on a day off; from Sydney you could usu­ally count on a few hours’ shop­ping or sight­see­ing in Mel­bourne or Bris­bane, some­times Ade­laide or Ho­bart. Once, on East-West Air­lines I flew to, well, I can’t re­mem­ber where — it could have been Ar­mi­dale or Tam­worth. It was a turn­around flight, the only one of the day, and I didn’t dis­em­bark, ar­riv­ing home in nice time for morn­ing tea.

Just re­cently (and I em­pha­sise this so­cial re­search was done on my own time) I de­cided on a pin-the-tail-on-the­do­n­key ap­proach to choos­ing a des­ti­na­tion. With my eyes shut and map of the world in front of me, I took a stab. The fin­ger hit the mid­dle of the Pa­cific, not within cooee of land. A sec­ond try placed me in Tim­buktu, once the by­word for as magic-car­pet ride away as it got.

Have you ever been to a bucket-list des­ti­na­tion that was a bas­ket case? Let’s face it, some places just don’t hit the post­card per­fec­tion of your imag­i­na­tion.

As a child I would never have dreamed of go­ing to Buck­ing­ham Palace, but here I am en­joy­ing the his­tor­i­cal mo­ment of be­ing in­side. Now I feel aw­ful point­ing this out (I am after all in some­one else’s home), but things are a lit­tle frayed around the edges. I can’t quite put my fin­ger on it, but oth­ers have, around light switches and on the walls (un­doubt­edly they’re the prints of high per­son­ages). Sure you wouldn’t like me to slip in with the Jif be­fore the next tour?

From the first time I saw Key Largo I thought how won­der­ful it would be to shoot the breeze with Lau­ren Ba­call dur­ing a hur­ri­cane there. Such a witty and wise woman, by all ac­counts, in an ex­otic lo­ca­tion. Ex­cept, when I get to Key Largo it’s a rather fea­ture­less hotch­potch of mo­tels, shops and light in­dus­trial.

US Route 1 south in Florida is a mag­nif­i­cent sweep over land and wa­ter, but you can keep the var­i­ous keys locked out of sight un­til the fi­nal drop in the bucket, the fab­u­lous Key West, per­haps not a bad place to end your days.

Back to those books on thou­sands of ex­pe­ri­ences be­fore you die. Surely one ti­tle could be de­voted to ac­tiv­i­ties in the time after, com­plete with pic­tures. No pho­tos of eter­nal fires, thanks.

Su­san Kuro­sawa is on as­sign­ment.

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