The Martin Place Christmas tree turns 50 this year, fulfilling its role as the centrepiece of the City of Sydney’s Christmas decorations for half a century.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the tree occupies a special place in the hearts of Sydneysiders.
“People love the Martin Place tree, the tallest Christmas tree in New South Wales. It’s been through various incarnations over five decades and is always the focal point of our festive display.”
Throughout the 1960s, Hyde Park was home to the Christmas tree before it moved to Martin Place in 1971 just months after the plaza had been pedestrianised.
“After removing cars, the council immediately wanted to reap the benefits of Martin Place as somewhere people could come and celebrate. The City used real trees for the first few years, but there were problems with browning and falling pine needles. In 1976 the council approved the construction of an artificial tree” the Lord Mayor said.
Martin Place Christmas Tree 1971. Photo: City of Sydney Archives
The first manufactured tree was 20.1 metres tall. It used the same substantial below-ground concrete base – built to hold the trees – and stood proudly in Martin Place until the 1990s.
Smaller, more manageable models were used to celebrate Christmas from 2001 to 2017, before the City first installed the current tree in 2018.
The current tree is 24.5 metres high, decorated with more than 110,000 LEDs, a 3.4-metre colour-changing star and 330 specially created glossy baubles.
The tree’s 800 branches are dressed with 15,000 flowers representing nine different kinds of Australian flora: banksia, waratah, bottlebrush, wattle, eucalyptus gum flower, kangaroo paw, flannel flower, pink wax flower and white wax flower.
“The detail, the decorations and the lighting display are a real treat for the crowds who come into the city,” the Lord Mayor said. “The Martin Place tree comes to life with a three-minute music and light show, every 15 minutes from 7pm. It’s quite spectacular and these shows will continue every day until January 1, so don’t miss out!”
Martin Place Christmas Tree 1990s. Photo: City of Sydney Archives