Meaning of quote?
“As a child I heard many warnings from teachers about the perils of talking to strangers. Yet now, fairly late in my life, I can think of few things better than talking with strangers. The idea of being a stranger is also very appealing.”
The quote in question comes from Michael Leunig's essay In the Company of Strangers (published in The National Times). Leunig is an essayist, poet and artist. The quote in question appears in the opening line of Leunig's essay. The essay is dedicated to his "love of strangers" and his boredom with his nationality.
As for the meaning of the quote, it refers to the fact that the lessons we learn early in life do not necessarily apply to one's life later on. While many of us are warned about the dangers of strangers, our social lives as adults would be very limited.
Therefore, Leunig is stating that, as adults, strangers are the ones who add to our lives (given we, typically, know all there is about the ones closest to us).
In regards to the idea of being a stranger, one could interpret this in two very different ways. First, one could interpret it to mean that Leunig desires to be unknown. This could speak to the wonders of the things unknown to mankind. Things which are unknown are typically intriguing.
Second, Leunig could wish to be a stranger because he, himself, finds strangers to be interesting. Speaking with strangers opens one's mind to knew things and ideas. Therefore, Leunig may wish to be found as a person who others can learn from.