Tree bends all the rules
LISMORE locals can proudly claim to have the most unique Christmas tree in Australia.
Sitting on the corner of Woodlark St and Keen St, the tree bears a close resemblance to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The bottom quarter of the pine is stripped bare of branches; it has none of the lovely triangular shape of a more traditional specimen.
And with the town somewhat insecure about its regional capital status, the worthiness of this odd tree to represent Lismore is becoming a lightning rod of fierce debate.
Some locals may now look west, green with envy, at Casino's Metgasco-sponsored Christmas tree - a perfect specimen of the form.
Others celebrate the Lismore version's point of difference.
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But the experience of the tree was underwhelming for visiting Sydneysider Bec Taylor, accustomed to the opulence and grandeur of Sydney's tree.
"It's got a bit of character, but it doesn't really look like a Christmas tree," Bec admitted.
A local grandmother who did not want to be named for the controversy of her view, said the tree "looked sick".
City Centre manager Katie O'Rourke, who spends much of her job talking to CBD business owners, said the jury was still out.
"Some people love it, others not so much," Ms O'Rourke said.
"I'm more of a traditionalist myself... but there are so many elements of Lismore that aren't traditional, so I can understand why people have an affinity for the tree."
Lismore City Council parks co-ordinator Martin Soutar said the tree was intentionally chosen.
The tree is a Cook pine (Araucaria columnaris) and they all actually have a slightly natural screw or 's' shape, so they naturally tend to lean.
"It is likely a lot of effort was put into selecting this species, as it would grow tall but it would not spread, which was important due to the power lines it grows within," Mr Soutar said.
"Aesthetically, I think our bent Christmas tree is a bit quirky and quite sweet."
But then there's the matter of the tree's decorations - seen as sub-par by some commentators.
Lismore City Council currently has a $15,000 yearly budget for Christmas decorations, administered by the Works department.
Many outer suburban metropolitan councils in Brisbane and Sydney have budgets 10 times that amount.
And then there's the big city centres: according to media reports, Melbourne City Council last year increased its Christmas decorations budget from $1 million to $2.4 million.
That's a lot of baubles and tinsels, not to mention a whopping big Christmas tree.
Yet for better or worse, this odd tree leaves an impression which lingers long after the Christmas spirit.