Vincent Street in Daylesford is awash with locally handcrafted decorated trees thanks to a community partnership led by Daylesford Men’s Shed.

The Men’s Shed has built 23 wooden trees each 2.4 metres high which have been painted in varying designs, each adorned with 40 hand-decorated wombats. Every tree and wombat (almost 1,000 of them!) have been lovingly decorated by students of local childcare centres and schools, residents of aged care facilities and members of local clubs and organisations.

The trees are illuminated at night by solar batteries.

At the end the wombat decorations will be returned to the student artists as a keepsake. The trees will be retained and hopefully decorated with new hand-painted wombats next year.

Each tree has been fitted with LED lights powered by a solar battery. The lights will automatically illuminate at night.

Chair of Community Bank and member of Daylesford Men’s Shed, Mark Rak, led the project which he said aims to bring some local Christmas spirit to the town.

“We thought a community-led collection of Christmas decorations would help to make the town more festive,” said Mr Rak. “Since Daylesford was once called Wombat, these furry creatures were an obvious choice to decorate the handmade trees,” he said.

“We just wanted to get people of all ages together to bring some Christmas cheer to Daylesford. Everyone has got on board and we’re pretty proud of what we’ve achieved.”

The Men’s Shed is grateful for the support of Daylesford District Community Bank, Rotary Club of Daylesford, Hepburn Shire Council and all the community groups, centres and schools involved.

“Our members provided the design, skills and labour for the project. We have gratefully received funding and support from our partners, which has enabled all budding artist and community groups to participate free of charge,” said Daylesford Men’s Shed President, Bob Thannhausser.

Men’s Shedders install a tree in Vincent Street. Left to Right: Bruce Davis, Bob Thannhausser, Brian Murphy and David Robertson.

“One of the best elements of this project is the cross generational aspect. We’ve had children aged 4 years involved, right through to people in their 80s! It’s been a terrific project with real community spirit,” he said.

Daylesford Men’s Shed has worked on the project since January. “Each of the 23 trees consists of 40 separate components,” explained Men’s Shed member and Project Designer Brian Murphy. “Around 1,000 hours have been put into the project by Men’s Shed members alone,” said Mr Murphy.

“Council is proud to support such a multi-generational project that has been led by the community, for the community,” said Bradley Thomas, Chief Executive Officer, Hepburn Shire Council. “We are also supporting community events and initiatives in Clunes, Creswick and Trentham.”

Groups and organisations that participated in the project include the Dharma School, St Michael’s Primary, Hepburn Primary, Daylesford Primary, Yandoit Primary, Bullarto Primary, Daylesford Preschool, Hepburn Kindergarten, Daylesford Community Child Care, West Street Child Care, Daylesford and District Horticulture Society, Daylesford Riding for the Disabled, Daylesford Aged Care, Hepburn House, Daylesford Neighbourhood House, the U3A Walking Group and the Daylesford Historical Society.