Di and Renea prep for Christmas
Many residents perform acts of kindness and generosity in our beautiful Hinterland, and it is always a pleasure find out more about the people behind these thoughtful acts. Christmas lights, local charity and a family affair brought Victoria McGuin to the Landers Shoot door of Di Easdale recently.
By Victoria McGuin
Di Easdale loves Palmwoods. Born in Gympie and raised on a farm in Kenilworth, she and her late husband ended up with a farm in Landers Shoot, “It was about 49 years ago, we grew paw paws and strawberries”.
There was a move to Tin Can Bay, but later Di returned to her beloved Palmwoods, living in town for over ten years before settling off Landershute Road on their original land. Di lives on a shared block next door to her daughter Renea, Daryl and grandchildren.
It’s a busy day. The Compass Institute group is here to view the gardens and Andrew (‘Digger’), the Farm Manager for Compass, is running through things he can do to help Di. It soon becomes clear that this is a big labour of love.
“We have the lights for everyone to enjoy,” says Di, “but we also have lucky dips for a dollar, and raffle tickets.” (There are baskets and baskets of wrapped and soon-to-be wrapped presents taking over part of the house.)
“People are donating gifts to Compass,” Andrew shares. “And we have vouchers from Erbachers, Montville, Bradys… the community is amazing.”
“We are always keen for more donations though! If anyone would like to drop things off here, we’d be very grateful,” Di smiles.
Looking around, I can see strings of lights everywhere, across buildings, wooden poles, pergolas. Hundreds of Christmas decorations adorn the walls and hang from the ceiling, and Christmas trees are dotted about. I can’t wait to see it at night!
“Daryl, does most of the hard work putting the lights up, and Renea does a lot too,” says Di. “I do the garden, I’ll take a bow for that!” she laughs.
“We started in about August,” Daryl continues. “Luckily! Because we had all that rain. But we managed it, and the poles all slip out, so it is easy to take down.”
“All the lights in the Balinese hut, and a few others, stay up all the time,” adds Renea.
This sparkling garden has become a regular fundraiser for charities over the years, something that seemed to grow organically.
“I started doing this when I lived in Tytherleigh Road,” says Di. I always had lights under pergolas and then I just started getting a few more.”
“A few thousand more!” interjects Renea.
“When I moved to Bonaparte Place, I began raising money for the Guides with my Christmas lights display. Then for the SES, the Fire Brigade and it just built up from there.”
The opening night dinner is going down a treat
Last year Beyond Blue benefitted from Di’s display and fundraising. “We raised $3000, but I was disappointed that the money went to Melbourne – I wanted it to stay to help people in the community. That is why I am so glad to have Compass on board this year as they have been brilliant.”
Councillor Jenny McKay comes to turn on the lights on Friday November 24, and on December 23 she returns to draw the raffle. Santa will be present both nights – apparently arriving on a golf buggy!
“Prize night is a great night to come,” says Di. “We have nibbles here, but you are welcome to bring your fish and chips for dinner. Sit under the lights, enjoy the Balinese hut, drive in, take a look around and eat!”
As the Compass group leave, Andrew tells me how glad they are that Di has asked them to be part of her lights this year. “We’re very on board to help. It’s all about community, and Palmwoods is a great community, always has been.”
“You couldn’t be a more deserving cause,” replies Di.
I take walk around the beautiful, expansive garden, which is lovingly nurtured by Di. “I grow and sell native succulents,” she tells me. “And native flowers, people love those.”
Di has been working at the Peregian and Noosa markets, selling fruit and veg, for the last 30 years. “And I try to keep going out in the garden – to keep young,” she laughs.
“When I was 70 I had a wake with a 50s theme, and at 75 I’m having another one with a ‘Grease’ theme! There’ll be music, dancing on the lawn and a few lights around. And food – people never leave our place hungry.”
On cue, she encourages me to have some lunch (I politely decline) or a cup of tea and some cake (I accept).
“My family all help with everything, putting up these lights, wrapping presents, cooking, and selling raffle tickets. If it wasn’t for my kids and grandkids and family, I wouldn’t be able to do it,” Di says.
“I love doing it… but I won’t do it if my garden isn’t up to scratch. I’m very fussy, and I like my garden to look just right.”
From what I can see today, the garden looks just perfect and I am sure the many visitors who step through the gates this Christmas will agree.
Come and enjoy the lights at 8 Roys Road, on the corner of Upper Landershute Road, Palmwoods, from November 25 onwards, and donate to the Compass Institute, providing real futures for Queenslanders with disabilities.