Festive farm gates bring smiles

Rebecca TriggerCountryman
Ben and Jackie Simkin and their daughters Zara, Amber and Ella at their property just south of Binnu.
Camera IconBen and Jackie Simkin and their daughters Zara, Amber and Ella at their property just south of Binnu. Credit: Danella Bevis/Countryman

Santa might struggle to fit down a chimney, but farm gates in one Mid West town should give him ample space to squeeze through.

The town of Binnu, about an hour's drive north-east of Geraldton, has seen some uniquely Aussie Santas over the past few years as residents deck farm gates with fabulous displays of Christmas cheer.

"There's been some great ones, and you know when you look back on it, photos should have been taken," Northampton Shire president Gordon Wilson said.

"There's been Father Christmases on motorbikes, Father Christmases up a windmill … I think I've seen a Father Christmas with cut-out sheep dogs."

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One year featured Santa playing cricket and another saw him leading a camel in the 'desert' - someone's dry field.

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Mr Wilson said he'd seen the festive lights lining the roadsides for at least 10 years.

However, the tradition really kicked off when the CWA organised a competition in 2006-07 - known in the region as the drought years.

The Country Women's Association's Jenny Harris, 75, who spearheaded the contest, said it was designed to bring out community spirit during tough times.

"It certainly brought that out, and the young ones certainly encouraged the parents to have a go," she said.

The CWA competition ran for a few years then petered out but locals have kept the tradition alive.

The Santas are usually made from whatever is lying around - everything from washing machine parts to old spare tyres.

Michelle Marshall, 48, whose husband works as a farm manager in East Binnu, said this season had been another tough one and the tradition helped to lift people's spirits.

"I think in the drought years it gave you something light hearted to think about, everyone went around and looked at everyone's front gate display," she said.

"I think country people are very resilient … you try and be hopeful and hope next year's going to be a better one."

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