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Love is in the air at Burrum Heads

DISCRETELY positioned behind a fallen tree trunk, far from where children play near the rock wall at Burrum Heads, is the Love Seat.

The crudely built and lightly painted timber seat bears the disclaimer: “Warning – cuddles and kissing only!”

Whether that’s policed is anyone’s guess.

The sleepy seaside town 30 minutes north of Hervey Bay is known as a family holiday destination with countless mums, dads and kids returning year after year to enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

Perhaps the Love Seat is where it all starts.

It looks too new, however, for when Nanna and Poppy (Debbie and Jeffrey) Cunningham started their family of eight children more than 35 years ago.

Along with the Green, White, Black and Brown families (surnames, not skin colour), Nanna and Poppy have set up camp on the beachfront near the rock wall every Christmas-New Year holiday since the early 1980s.

I had the privilege of spending a day with Nanna, Poppy, some of their now-grown children, grandchildren and also Grand-Nanna and Grand-Poppy this week. It’s easy to see why they return each year despite the lure of five-star luxury elsewhere.

“It’s just the two of us now so we could book a luxury Gold Coast unit but we like the atmosphere at Burrum Heads,” Nanna said. “Our kids have started bringing their families here too.”

Nanna and Poppy are now introducing the first of their grandchildren to the Burrum Heads camping tradition.

With three of their eight offspring having already reproduced, another five are yet to follow so the couple expect many more grandies will join the group in years to come.

Their camp site is in the second row, just a few metres behind the front row that’s separated from the beach by only a walkway and trees.

Life goes by at a leisurely pace. There’s no hurry; no gongs to signal when lunch is served. Meals happen when they happen. Kids are fed roughly at traditional meal times but if two hours later they’re still playing, that’s ok too. Nanna is still there handing out food and drinks.

“We spend most of our time here just relaxing by the water,” Poppy said. “There’s no television in our camper trailer. We  like it that way. The only thing we look for is news on the weather and I get that on ABC Radio.”

Nanna and Poppy like their second-row site. It’s more protected from strong winds, should they arise. Unless a cyclone or thunder storm brews, rain usually isn’t a bother – the couple simply relax under canvas instead of the trees.

Others are more easily deterred. When wet weather set in earlier this week, a regular camper checked out but the rain was short-lived and another lucky camper was able to have that front-row site for two nights.

That was a rare opportunity. Scoring such a prime spot usually takes years with sites often being passed on only through inheritance.

“If we didn’t come here one year we wouldn’t get our site back the next year because there’s such a long waiting list,” Poppy said. “Bookings one year get preference for the next year.”

Meanwhile, it appears bookings are not being taken for the Love Seat. It was vacant when I walked by with a camera!

See Jocelyn’s photo essay for more photos of Burrum Heads.

5 tips for photographing children

PHOTOGRAPHING children can be more difficult that you think. Ask them to pose and your photos will look contrived. Candid shots capture their personalities but if you hesitate even for an instant, the opportunity is gone. Getting you know your camera and brushing up on techniques will having you running on auto-pilot and capturing all those precious moments with ease.

1. Look for expressions: Capturing funny faces, giggles and even cries says a lot more about children’s personalities than staged poses. I’d much rather have photos of children with excited expressions than the fake smiles they do because someone said they had to smile for the camera. And while photos of sleeping babies are cute, I prefer to see they’re eyes.

2. Focus on the eyes: It’s often said that eyes are windows to a person’s soul. Children move quickly and are often difficult to capture but if their eyes are in focus, even when their limbs are blurred, you’ll still have good photo.      

3. Shoot from eye level:  Crouch down or lie on your tummy to be at similar eye level as the child/children.  You’ll have a much better chance of capturing those gorgeous eye and facial expressions.

4. Colour: If you’re planning ahead, choose a good combination of colours between the clothes your child/chilren are wearing and the surroundings. Look at a colour wheel  for contrasting or complimentary colour schemes. Wearing colours similar to the surroundings should be avoided as the child/children will tend to blend into the background rather than stand out.

5. Shoot in soft light:  Shooting outdoors at midday will result in high contrast photos. It’s better to shoot early morning or late afternoon when the light is softer and shadows not so harsh. If noon is unavoidable look for areas of non-patchy shade under trees or shadows of tall buildings.