Roadtripping in Australia in December brings unexpected entertainment. Many people living in rural areas take time to adorn their farm gates with tinsel, ribbons, Santa figures and other Christmas-themed decorations.
Last week I returned from an 800km trip around Queensland’s Scenic Rim, with most of my destinations within a couple of hours of my home in Brisbane. I was on assignment, gathering stories about how the region is faring one year after the summer bushfires that ravaged much of Australia. It had been a few years since I’d been on the road in country areas just before Christmas and I was delighted to see that the tradition of decorated farmgates was still alive and well, spreading the festive spirit.
For several years, I drove from Melbourne to Brisbane – around 1700km – for Christmas, often on the inland routes. It’s a long and sometimes tedious haul but the roadside Santas and other inventive decorations provided plenty of compensation.
Spotting roadside Santas and other Christmas-themed decorations became one of my obsessions to while away the drive, and provide me with excuses to stop and stretch my legs. Then, whenever I’ve been travelling in December, I’ve looked out for them everywhere and I’ve not been disappointed.
I’ve seen Santa Claus in a boat – after floods – and in a plane in New South Wales, and Santa families in a farm truck in tropical north Queensland.
What I love about these Santas is that they are crazy and creative, cobbled together by bags of stuffing or grass, old clothes, and odd assortments of accessories.
Of course, it’s not always Santa. There are bears, dogs and – one of my latest sightings – kangaroos!
Sometimes, there are friends to greet the curious passer-by. These goats were very vocal and friendly when I stopped last week to photograph their gorgeous farmgate, adorned with big red Christmas bows and tinsel. Above the gate, pinned to the palm trees, was a Santa sack and a bright Christmas tree.
Santa and his friends pop up all over the place, so if you’re driving anywhere just before Christmas – any year – look out for them.
My photo collection of these creative works has become quite extensive – and I haven’t stopped looking! Some of these images I’ve posted before on this blog, others are new. But at the end of a year that needs all the reasons to smile it can get, I hope these images have given you reason to.
Merry Christmas to you all!