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Lights up in Raymond Terrace Norfolk pine tree and countdown on until Carols Under the Christmas Tree

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas in Raymond Terrace following the installation of the lights in the town's iconic Norfolk pine tree this week.

Raymond Terrace arborist Dwayne Hopper scaled the 43 metre tall tree located on the grounds of the Old Rectory on Wednesday to fix 12 strings of lights to the historic tree and a star on top.

Port Stephens Council electricians worked on Thursday and Friday to connect the lights to power and test them before they are formally switched on at Carols Under the Christmas Tree on December 3.

Jamie Kemp, a council electrician, has worked with Mr Hopper for 16 years to install the Raymond Terrace Christmas lights.

"We enjoy it," he said. "It gets the town into the festive season. And it's something good in these COVID times."

IN THE SPIRIT: Port Stephens Council electrician Jamie Kemp with Raymond Terrace arborist Dwayne Hopper after installing the Christmas lights in the Old Rectory's Norfolk pint tree on Wednesday, November 24. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

IN THE SPIRIT: Port Stephens Council electrician Jamie Kemp with Raymond Terrace arborist Dwayne Hopper after installing the Christmas lights in the Old Rectory's Norfolk pint tree on Wednesday, November 24. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

Mr Hopper, known as Hopper the Tree Lopper, has a long history with installing the Christmas lights in the towering Terrace tree. So long in fact that he has lost track how many years he has done it but believes it is about 25 years.

"We have a pretty good system now," he said. "It helped when we got headsets to communicate. It took a lot longer to get the lights up when I had to yell down at the ground."

The small team who install the lights - Mr Hopper and son Daniel, Mr Kemp and two of his electricians - operate as a well oiled machine.

On installation day, Mr Hopper scales the tree about 7.30am. The team below feed 12 lots of 40 metre-long strings with multi-coloured LED festoon lights up to him, which he fixes near the top of the tree. He then places a star on top.

It's typically done by lunchtime. Then the electricians swing into action.

Christmas lights are typically installed in the two Norfolk pine trees in Apex Park, Nelson Bay. But the lights have remained installed in the trees since December last year.

Mr Kemp said his team has installed solar fairy lights within the Nelson Bay CBD (Magnus, Stockton and Donald streets) this year.

The lights in Raymond Terrace will be turned on during the Carols Under the Christmas Tree event, which begins at 6pm on Friday, December 3.

Irrawang High School student Alex Hall will kick off the live entertainment for the night. Carols will be performed by the Anglican Church choir.

There will be face painting, jumping castles, stalls and food available on the night.

Families are encouraged to take a blanket, chairs and a picnic, find a spot on the lawn under the tree and enjoy the live entertainment.

Raymond Terrace Bowling Club, owners of the Old Rectory, coordinate the carols and said the event is only open to residents who are double vaccinated.

"Due to current government issued COVID restrictions, only double vaccinated patrons are permitted on the grounds at the Rectory. All patrons must have proof of vaccination to enter the premise."

Following the event, the lights will switch on at 7pm and off at 1am daily until they are taken down at the end of January.

History of Raymond Terrace's Norfolk pine trees

The Norfolk Island Pine tree that features the Christmas lights is heritage listed and included on the National Trust Register of Significant Trees.

It was recognised in 2010 as Australia's largest Norfolk Island Pine, standing three metres taller than its nearest rival, a 40-metre Norfolk Island pine in Victor Harbour, South Australia.

A St John's Anglican Church warden planted three pines in the grounds of the old Rectory in 1862.

Two are still standing but the third came down during a storm in the 1940s.

The top half of the second tree, which previously stood at 40m tall, was cut off in 2019 after it was infected with Norfolk Island Pine stem canker caused by the fungus Neofusicoccum parvum.

The front pine has featured Christmas lights since 1961.

In other Port Stephens Christmas news

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