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One of the region’s largest Christmas tree farms—Santa’s Shaped Christmas Trees—is now open and ready for families to select a real tree for their home.
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 family property is Christmas tree nirvana. As far as the eye stretches stand row upon row of immaculately-shaped Christmas trees, ready and waiting for 25 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, the Kominek family have more than 6,000 fine specimens of Monterey Pine to decorate homes across the region—which they wholesale to suppliers, deliver and sells to the public direct at the Farmers’ Markets at EPIC, Farmers’ Markets in Woden, Belconnen Fresh Food Markets and Gungahlin Bunnings.
But the part that this locally run business is looking forward to most is opening their farm gates to local families, so that they may come and choose their very own tree which is cut down, netted and driven home for decoration.
Christmas trees are ready for harvest.
The ‘real Christmas tree’ difference
You don’t need to prompt Ziggy Kominek 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 five-to-seven year lifespan.
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,” says Ziggy. “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. Santa’s Shaped Christmas Trees supply custom-made stands which hold the trees upright and carry several litres of water—which should be kept full at all times.
Ziggy says he 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 $70 for a 1.5 to 2-metre tree (the most popular size) and increasing by $15 per metre for larger trees, Ziggy and his family have built their business on making real trees accessible for all.
From little things, big things grow
So how does one become a Christmas tree farmer? It turns out that Ziggy’s 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 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 ‘90s, 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 4,000 seedlings of Pinus Radiata including genetically-selected Christmas tree stock, were planted.
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 Belconnen Fresh Food Markets.
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.
A family tradition
All the hard work this local family put into the trees is worth it 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.
Please download the SERVICE NSW app for COVID and sign in before picking and paying for your tree.
The health of all visitors is paramount to the Kominek family. Measures have been put in place to ensure everyone can still take home a beautiful Christmas tree and make the most of their tree selection process.
All visitors will need to download the SERVICE NSW app for COVID and sign-in before picking and paying for you tree.
Where to find your real Christmas tree
If you can’t make the trip out to Gundaroo, they will bring the farm to you. Simply order your tree from christmastrees.net.au.
You can also pick up a tree from Santa’s Shaped Christmas Trees at the Farmers’ Markets at EPIC, Farmers’ Markets in Woden, Bunnings Gungahlin, Belconnen Fresh Food Markets and Gungahlin Bunnings. Get details of when and where here.
What: Santa’s Shaped Christmas Trees
Where: 4144 Gundaroo Road, Gundaroo and other locations
When: Open now until 24 December, 7 days, 8 am – 6 pm
Buy: Visit or order from christmastrees.net.au—get $5 off yours by using the code HC2020 at the checkout!