Duncan loved the heat and loved summer. While he still had strong connections to his Scottish heritage, he never returned - he never wanted to be that cold again. Settling in Brisbane, family holidays were most often spent on the Sunshine Coast. It’s where I also holidayed growing up so it’s a place that connects three generations of my family. As I moved around, the Sunshine Coast was always a constant and I always looked forward to visiting. It’s where I have felt most at home. Like my grandfather, I am attracted to the heat and summer and happily it’s where I ended up.
Going for summer holidays to the Sunshine Coast in the 1950s was no easy affair for my grandfather and family, it was a bit of a slow journey from Brisbane (yes, hard to believe it was slower than the Bruce Highway). Not having a car in those days meant taking two trains and a bus. The family would only take one large cardboard suitcase and Duncan took another case of camera equipment. He famously said he only packed a pair of pyjamas and a pair of shorts. Maybe a bit of an under-exaggeration but clothes-wise he was a minimalist so that he could maximise space for his camera gear.
During his holidays he photographed up and down the Maroochy River and of course along the beaches. My mother said when they went to the beach to sunbake he would wander off scouting locations and photographing what spoke to him.
Two photos from the first collection, Surf Rescue and Boat Rescue were taken at Mooloolaba. They are classic images of surf lifesavers running drills on the beach. Setting up his gear and making sure he had the right settings, he would have waited, still in amongst the chaos of the drills. I haven’t found a lot of other shots in this series so he didn’t waste film. No instant gratification either, he would have waited until he got home to process the film in his dark room in the laundry hoping that the images turned out as he had pictured. Talk about slow-living and the art of patience.
You can see more of Duncan’s images of the Coast series in our online store.