A small farming town on the West Coast is slowly gaining a reputation for being the “Christmas town of the Eyre Peninsula”, all thanks to a magical Christmas experience that the town has hosted for 10 years now.
The annual Cummins Christmas Wonderland is attracting more visitors each year from farther afield and it’s certainly become a festive season highlight for the residents of Cummins.
Created entirely by volunteers – and funded by the gold coin donations visitors contribute – the Wonderland is refreshed each year and includes interactive displays.
“We always try to vary our displays but the main thing is that we want to make it fun,” said Cummins Christmas Wonderland organiser, Grace Coombs.
Last year, children were delighted by a white unicorn and its accompanying carriage that they could climb into. This year, a new sleigh all the way from Russia will be a highlight.
“We saw an 1860s Russian sleigh advertised by an Adelaide auction house earlier this year and were delighted when it was passed in and we were able to purchase it with a donation we received,” Mrs Coombs said.
“We don’t know how it got to Adelaide but it’s now in Cummins and we have created its own Russian horse to go with it.”
Re-purposing and recycling goods is a large part of how the volunteer group create the Christmas display, along with relying on the kindness of people to help with the displays.
“We try to use recycled material as much as possible,” Mrs Coombs said.
“Each year I go travelling around Australia with my husband and I ask around at Christmas shops if they have anything that they don’t use anymore.
“The unicorn in last year’s display was bought from a shop just outside of Perth – and just fit in the back of our four-wheel-drive so we could drive it all the way back to Cummins.”
The Wonderland team begin planning in February each year and have plenty of local support along the way.
“There are businesses and local people who I know I can rely on to help bring our ideas into reality and we are very grateful for their support,” Mr Coombs said.
“A local transport company brought the sleigh over from Adelaide for us; while in Port Lincoln, we have someone working on creating a new item for next year’s display already.
“It’s great fun really creating this every year and it’s certainly something that the community has embraced.
“It has a flow-on effect to the whole community really – it gives people from outside the region a reason to visit our town.”
For Mrs Coombs, who has been involved in all 10 of the Wonderland displays, she continues to find joy in creating a magical Christmas experience; but she hopes that in time other younger members of the community will take it over.
And going back to that first display 10 years ago, Mrs Coombs certainly never imagined it would become a “must” for Cummins.
“I remember that first year – it was a few days before we were opening and the organiser asked ‘so what are you all going to put up?’,” she said.
“We all found Christmas displays and decorations to add; and while it was fun it wasn’t very professional and I didn’t think it would be so popular. Everyone loved it though and said how good it was so we thought we’d do it again.”
The team start installing the display in the local RSL hall after Remembrance Day, ready for opening on December 1.
The Cummins Christmas Wonderland is open from December 1 to December 31 from 10am to 5pm except Christmas Day when it’s open 2 to 5pm.
Father Christmas arrives in Cummins at the local Christmas Festival on December 14; after which he will be at the Wonderland every day (December 15-24) from 10am to 12pm, thanks to help from the local Men’s Shed group.
Entrance is a gold coin donation and photography is permitted. There is pram, wheelchair and walker access.
Groups of more than 10 should book ahead by calling 0408 832 127. After hours visits can also be arranged by calling that number.