Hale 12 Week Masthead

Christmas tree heaven on our doorstep

Emma Macdonald

From November 25, one of the region’s largest Christmas tree farms will open its doors.

Forty minutes up the highway, past the picturesque village of Gundaroo, is something that will melt the heart of even the most hardened of Christmas Grinches.

For what lies on the 200-acre property of Ziggy Kominek is a Christmas tree nirvana.

As far as the eye stretches stand row upon row of immaculately-shaped Christmas trees, ready and waiting for 25th December.

Santa’s Shaped Christmas Trees has been supplying perfectly-shaped Christmas trees to Canberra, Sydney and the South and North coast for almost 20 years.

This year, Ziggy and his team of workers have more than 8,000 fine specimens of Monterey Pine to decorate homes across the region – which he wholesales to suppliers, sells to the public direct, and delivers.

But the part that Ziggy is looking forward to most is opening his farm gates to local families, come 25th November, so that they may come and choose their very own tree which is cut down, netted and driven home for decoration.

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Ziggy Zominek’s Christmas trees are ready for harvest.

You don’t need to prompt Ziggy to speak of the difference between a plastic tree and one that he has lovingly planted, cared for and shaped twice a year over its 5-7 year life-span.

First, there is the joy of choosing which exact tree to take home – a source of infinite excitement for kids and adults alike. Then there are the aesthetics of a thick, bushy, authentic tree. Finally, there is the clincher – a real tree fills each home with the very aroma of Christmas.

“Most people say the thing they love most is the smell of a real tree, and next the way it looks,” he says. “There is no question they are the real deal. There’s no comparison in my mind.”

It is a relatively straightforward job of keeping a live tree in top condition, once it leaves Gundaroo, for pride of place in the family living room. Ziggy supplies custom-made stands which hold the tree upright and carry several litres of water and which should be kept full at all times.

Ziggy can’t imagine why anyone would want a synthetic tree when a real one can provide a family focal point and fill a house with the scent of Christmas.

With prices starting at $65 for a 1.5 to 2-metre tree (the most popular size) and increasing by $15 per metre, for larger trees, Ziggy has built his business on making real trees accessible for all.

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From little things, big things grow.

But his decision to start up what would eventually be one of the largest Christmas tree farms in the region was more by accident than design.

The former accountant, who holds the distinction of being the former Taxation Commissioner for the Cook Islands, moved with his schoolteacher wife Sue to Gundaroo in the 80s and settled on a property which is on Gundaroo Road – just 1.4kms past the village.

In the late 1990s, with his retirement from the accounting field looming, Ziggy wanted to keep both his body and mind active and enrolled in an Advanced Diploma in Farming at the Goulburn TAFE.

While doing an assignment on burgeoning industries, Ziggy focussed on Christmas trees. Not only did he get top marks, but it planted the seed of a new business in his mind.

“I thought to myself, well actually this is a bloody good business plan, although everyone in my family thought I was nuts. Even my lecturer thought I was crazy to pursue it.”

It started small enough, just 4000 seedlings of Pinus Radiata including genetically-selected Christmas tree stock, were planted.

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Every tree is hand trimmed for a perfect Christmas tree shape.

Ziggy hand-planted each tree in anticipation that the bulk would be ready to sell after five years.

But the cold and brutal reality was that he sold just three trees of his original planting once they had matured. Meanwhile, he readjusted his ambitions, planted fewer trees and worked on his marketing plan. The next year he sold 700 trees, and after nearly five years word finally spread of the Christmas tree farm at Gundaroo. He sold out.

Ziggy has sold thousands of trees over his career, and is now a major wholesale supplier. For those who can’t get to Gundaroo, his trees are sold at the Farmer’s Markets at EPIC and Woden and outside Bunnings in Belconnen. You can order them online and collect the one you want in December.

No tree is sold without meeting Ziggy’s scrupulous standards for shape and thickness. Each tree is timed to come into its best form over December.

Meanwhile, he is kept busy throughout the year with planting, shaping and quality control.

Pest control is also an on-going job. Apart from insects, Ziggy battles hares and rabbits nipping off the young trees at ground level and also has to deal with kangaroo mobs wanting to practice their boxing skills on trees of similar size.

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It’s all worth it though when a steady stream of cars make their way up his driveway and kids run rings through the paddocks trying to decide which tree to take home.

“It’s a real family tradition for many. They come back each year and make a day of it,” he says. Often the Gundaroo Pub carpark will be overflowing with cars – all containing trees – making Ziggy something of a local tourism drawcard.

Ziggy can be found, meanwhile, proudly walking through his rows of pines, assisting families to make their choices.

He keeps a stash of decorations in his pocket which he gives to the children to make the experience more exciting and personal for them.

the essentials

What: Santas Shaped Christmas Trees
Where: 4144 Gundaroo Road, Gundaroo
When: Open from 25 November to 24 December, 7 days, 8am – 6pm
Visit or order online

This is a sponsored post but the opinions are the author’s own. For more information on our sponsored post policy, go here.

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Emma Macdonald

Emma Macdonald has been writing about Canberra and its people for more than 20 years, winning numerous awards for her journalism – including a Walkley or two – along the way. Canberra born and bred, she’s fiercely loyal to the city, tribally inner-north, and relieved the rest of the country is finally recognising Canberra’s cool and creative credentials.

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