Home' Tennant and District Times : 2014-1212 TDT Contents 8 TENNANT AND DISTRICT TIMES FRIDAY 12 DECEMBER 2014
THE 2014 CHRISTMAS
d Festive News
d Gift Ideas
d Christmas Wishes
Generations of Christmas Tree memories
POLICE throughout the Barkly will be out in force over the Christmas
period to make sure there are plenty of reasons to celebrate and none
Acting Senior Sergeant Michael Lunney from Tennant Creek Police urged
those travelling over the festive season to plan ahead.
“Make sure vehicles are registered and roadworthy and have your tyres
checked by the professionals before you head off on a big journey,” he said.
“Territorians have to drive to survive so don’t let fatigue get the better of you.
“Take a break at least every couple of hours - stop, revive, survive - and
drive within your capability.
“The open speed limit between Tennant Creek and Alice Springs is not an
invitation to go as fast as you can, drivers must make good judgements to
protect themselves, passengers and those in other vehicles.”
A/Sergeant Lunney said police would be out in force, targeting speeding,
drink and drug driving and seat belts.
“We will be running random breath testing stations and checking licences
and registrations on the highway as well as in towns and communities,” he
“If you’re doing the wrong thing, you will be caught out.
“The message is simple, if you’re going to celebrate then plan ahead.
Make use of courtesy buses and Sober Bob drivers to help you get home
or arrange to stay somewhere.
“Our aim is to have a fatality-free festive season and so we’ll be doing
whatever it takes to ensure it is a safe time for everyone.”
Local police urge
to drive safe this
I WAITED patiently in line for my
turn to meet the merry, chubby
man dressed in a woolly red
He was sitting in a fancy throne
in the corner of the town’s open-
air, deckchair cinema personally
greeting each of the hundreds of
children who had come to meet
It was a balmy night and, like the
others, I couldn’t wait to see what
Father Christmas looked like up
close and to give him a ten cent
piece I’d washed and polished that
He was wrinkled and kind al-
though he kept mopping his
sweaty brow with a handkerchief,
saying it was a lot hotter in Tennant
Creek than it was in the North Pole.
Father Christmas smiled when
I handed him my small offering.
“I’ve got something for you too,”
he said, digging into his pocket.
“It’s 20 cents, you’ve doubled
I took my shiny coin and the gift
one of his elves had passed to me
and sat down, ready for the movie.
“I’m keeping this money forever,”
I thought to myself.
“It will always be the most pre-
cious thing I own.”
That year, we saw the 1970s
version of Wuthering Heights
and about half way through the
movie, just as Heathcliff clutched
Catherine in a passionate em-
brace, my 20 cent coin dropped
out of my hand, bounced on the
concrete floor and rolled off into
I let out a terrified scream which
completely ruined the love scene
on the big screen and the whole
audience looked around, aghast
My mother tried to calm me and I
stopped yelling and sobbing when
she assured me she would send
my father back after the show to
find my coin.
The next day he stumbled home
after spending the afternoon in
“Did you go to the picture theatre
and find the money Father Christ-
mas gave me?” I asked.
“Of course,” he said, digging into
his pocket full of coins.
“Here it is.”
“But how do you know that’s the
right one and why did you put it in
your pocket with all the others?”
“I know it’s this one because it’s
the shiniest one,” he mused.
Satisfied, I took the money and
hid it in the safest-ever place for a
couple of years.
Until I realised that Father Christ-
mas wasn’t real and that my father
hadn’t ever bothered returning to
the theatre at all.
Still, that special memory remains
one of my favourite childhood mo-
ments and I’ll never forget how
chosen I felt - for a while at least.
The Christmas Tree had been
running for about 36 years at that
defining time and many children
had already formed a bank of pre-
It’s a community event where
every child in town receives a
present, gets to meet some pretty
cool characters, jump on the blow
up castle and enjoy treats like ice
blocks, fairy floss and barbequed
sausages. The highlight is the
arrival of the merry old man of
Christmas himself, drawn to the
event on a huge white sleigh by
six white boomers.
Christmas carols and festive spirit
fill the air and the action is non-stop
for a couple of hours after which
happy, tired, dusty little children
head home, clutching their cher-
ished toys selected especially for
them by Father Christmas himself.
Linda Renfrey, who was born
and raised in Tennant Creek, still
delights in the Christmas Tree.
“As a little girl, it was the highlight
of my year,” she said.
“It was always so magical and
special. We had fabulous visitors
like Yogi Bear, Kermit the Frog,
Miss Piggy and Tweedledee and
Tweedledum, not to mention Santa
and his elves.
“Plus there was the big Christmas
stocking, filled with presents to
“Everyone went along, it was a
fantastic time and after the pre-
sents, ice blocks, drinks and sau-
sages we all got to watch a movie.
“I still remember loving the car-
toons before the main movie be-
cause we only had the ABC back
then, not lots of television channels
like we do now.”
Later, Linda took her own children
to Christmas Trees, always revel-
ling in the joy and excitement.
She said she has always sup-
ported Christmas Tree fundraising
efforts knowing that hundreds of
children get to enjoy the special
“It’s lovely to know that it doesn’t
matter who you are or where you
come from, the Christmas Tree is
for all kids,” she said.
“And I don’t know of another
place in Australia where that hap-
“It’s unique to Tennant Creek.”
The tradition started 80 years
ago when Kathleen Weaber, wife
of prospector Bill Weaber, invited
the smattering of children from
the fledgling goldfields out to her
Rising Sun mine site for a party.
It has often been said that you
have to make your own fun in
the bush, and there was loads of
laughs at that very first party.
Plied with rum as he often was,
Jack Noble, of Nobles Nob fame,
got down on all fours, stuck a rolled
up newspaper in the back of his
pants and declared himself to be
a bucking kangaroo.
The challenge went out to chil-
dren to ride the bucking jumper
and light the newspaper at the
same time in return for a £2 pound
prize - a small fortune at the time.
Six year old Jack Ford waited un-
til the older Jack was quite drunk,
took his turn and won the prize!
The thrill of that first gathering,
and ones to come, must have
been indelibly stamped on Jack’s
memory as he remained involved
with Christmas Trees until his
death, more than 70 years later.
His wife, Nancy, was the linchpin
of the organisation for about 45
years until she handed over the
reigns several years ago.
Many still regard her as ‘Mother
Nancy was the one who intro-
duced the wonderful characters
from Disneyland and beyond as
well as the very popular jumping
castle and a fancy white sleigh
drawn by six white boomers.
A stickler for order, Nancy kept
the records, costumes and castle
in pristine order from year to year
and she and Jack donated the use
of a shed where the gear could be
She says her reward was the
smile on children’s faces.
“It was just so lovely to see those
little faces light up with happiness,”
“I love Christmas, it’s such a
magical time and to help to make
it joyful for others made it all
Nancy said she thinks the current
committee is doing a great job.
“Most of those who are now
running the Christmas Tree have
grown up with it being a central
part of their childhood,” she said.
“It’s lovely to see and I’m very
proud of them all.”
By JASMIN AFIANOS
Phone 8962 3377
We wish everyone in Tennant Creek and
throughout the Barkly a very Merry Christmas
and a safe and prosperous New Year.
Tennant Creek & District
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