Burleigh in the 1950s. Photo: Ross Farley.
BY ROSS FARLEY, BAYSIDE RESIDENT
On the first weekend of the school holidays in the 1950s and ’60s, our families would set up tents in Rudd Park at Burleigh Heads for the duration of the school holidays. Other families did the same, and many of the same people returned every year, forming an annual temporary community.
The tents were the old marquee-style with no built-in floors or zips; food was stored in ice chests, and cooking was done on methylated spirit stoves. My father (like others) drove back home to work through the week and came down for the weekends.
When I was probably about 10 years old, the boy in the tent next door and I decided to paddle canoes, but the only canoes were at Southport. None of the mothers had cars, so we asked if we could walk to Southport (about 15 km away) to hire canoes. Our mothers gave us money for canoes and lunch, and we set off the next day.
We walked up the beaches of Miami, Surfers Paradise, and Main Beach, crossed the old Southport Bridge and made our way to Labrador. We hired canoes, bought pies for lunch and hitchhiked home. We were picked up by a man who had space in the back of his utility (legal then, but not now) who kindly dropped us off about 100 metres from our tents.
We had a great day, and our mothers were confident we would be safe. Hitchhiking was common in those days. The dangers began later. Most people didn’t have cars, and it was considered neighbourly to pick up hitchhikers, especially lifesavers wearing their club clothes. It was a different world back then, and kids could safely do what is unthinkable today.