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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.

Treat yourself to a break this Christmas

With the festive season just around the corner, a celebration of National Psychology Week at University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Fraser Coast on Thursday November 13 offered a timely reminder to students and staff about maintaining a balanced lifestyle.

Visiting psychologist Leisa Roder said the Christmas-New Year period was often a high stress period so for anyone already struggling with life balance, it was important they took some time to relax while keeping up with all the pressures.

“It would be great if everyone practiced looking after themselves and used relaxation and self-care strategies such as exercise at least three to four times a week,” Ms Roder said.

USQ psychology lecturer Dr Michelle Adamson said research showed that making sustainable behaviour change was not a one-off decision but a process involving a number of steps.

Those steps involved wanting change, thinking about the benefits, reflecting on the barriers, making an action plan, taking action, building support, rewarding successes and managing any relapses.

Meanwhile, a report conducted by the Australian Psychological Society (APS) found that, for the first time, men have significantly higher levels of wellbeing than women.

Released to launch National Psychology Week (9-15 November) the Stress and Wellbeing in Australia survey 2014 suggested this year was a tougher for women, with the fairer sex reporting significantly higher levels of stress.

More than half (53%) of Australian women cited personal financial issues as a major source of stress, compared to just 44 per cent of men. Correspondingly, more than half (52%) of all women reported family issues as a major source of stress compared to just 38 per cent of men.

The APS provides a free referral service for the general public, GPs and other health professionals who are seeking the advice and assistance of a psychologist at www.findapsychologist.org.au. To access detailed advice about managing stress, you may view the APS tip-sheet here.

 
Photo: Attending the USQ Fraser Coast National Psychology Week breakfast celebration are (l-r) USQ lecturer Dr Michelle Adamson, psychologist Leisa Roder, Judy McLaughlin and Denise Girdlestone.