Siegfried Frattner has created a Christmas fairy-land at his Bellambi home in 2002.
Approaching Christmas 2002, I wrote the following story for the Northern Leader newspaper. Siegfried Frattner becale a local celebrity after transforming his garden into a magical fairyland over a number of years during the early 2000s. Can anyone update us on Siegfried?
WITH 14,000 Christmas lights adorning Siegfried Frattner’s Bellambi home, there was a few concerned neighbours when a fire truck turned-up at his door step one night last week.
Their concerns, however, were unwarranted, as the Rural Fire Brigade dropped-by to thank the 67-year-old pensioner for his efforts in raising funds for the service.
For the past three years Mr Siegfried has transformed his simple Housing Department cottage into a Christmas fairy-land attracting thousands of visitors, while raising money for worth while causes.
The retired coal miner, and “jack-of-all-trades”, said it all began five years ago when he was the first in the neighbourhood to put a string of Christmas lights in his yard.
“It grew from there and one year someone suggested I open my yard to the public,” Mr Frattner said.
Since 2000, the Austrian immigrant of 44-years, spends six weeks from mid October placing thousands of lights around his home.
He opens his yard every night to hundreds of visitors from early December until Christmas, between 8 and 11pm, charging a small fee of $2 for adults and allowing children free entry.
“The first year I raised $2,300 for the Westpac rescue helicopter,” Mr Frattner said.
“I love the look on the kids’ faces when they see my display.”
His yard is full of miniature stone castles, villas, wishing wells, and a specially prepared photograph set, where children can pose for a memorable snap of their visit.
Asked what prompted him to take on such a huge task, Mr Frattner recalled the poverty of Christmas in Austria as a boy.
Ellen and Alex Panagakos enjoy the magical surrounds of Mr Frattner’s Rothery Street home in 2002.
“My farming village was very poor, and I remember my father making Christmas toys for gifts from twigs and branches.
“At my age no one wants me for work, and it gives me something to do.
“I don’t like to see poverty and this is my way of seeing happy children at Christmas, while helping raise money for someone who needs it,” he said.
Mr Frattner’s Christmas wonder-land, topped off with cut-out timber Santas, reindeers and sleighs, is entirely his own creation.
“My wife, Margaret, wisely will have no part of it,” he laughed.
“The yard is my domain, and she leaves it me.”
The crowds at the moment are arriving in “dribs and drabs” at his Rothery Street home, but it’s when the school holidays start that Mr Frattner is at his busiest.
“As soon as school breaks for the summer holidays, traffic gets pretty heavy around here at night,” he said.
And after Christmas?
The Bellambi resident of 12 years begins the huge task of packing away his Christmas fairy-land, and hits the post Christmas sales looking for bargains for a bigger and better display next year.
- Northern Leader 2002