Why this Ipswich couple spreads joy, and plenty of light, each Christmas

Barry and Julie Collins’ Christmas lights display.

Most evenings in the lead up to Christmas Barry and Julie Collins can be found relaxing on bean bags across the road from their North Street home as a steady stream of families admire their Christmas light display.
They are one of more than 70 entrants in this year’s council-run River 949 Christmas Lights Competition. Ipswich First caught up with the couple to hear what inspires them to spread a little joy, and plenty of light, each Christmas.

How long have you been putting up Christmas lights?

19 years

How did you get started?

For as long as we can remember our close friends at Fernvale have done a magical Christmas light display. We always loved visiting their house every Christmas, it made us feel happy and we could see the joy it brought to their friends, neighbours and the wider community. When we bought our first house in 1999 they gave us a few lights to put up and it has continued on from there.

What keeps you coming back each year?

Anyone who does Christmas lights will understand that it is a labour of love. It’s definitely not easy, but the joy it brings to people and families makes it all worthwhile. We feel privileged to be able to give something back to the community via our light display.

The description with your entry on the Christmas lights competition page says you “love love love this time of year” – please tell us more, what makes it special?

The year is coming to an end and people are starting to relax, and are getting ready for the holidays and Christmas festivities. We love that we can add some sparkle (literally) to keep spirits high. During the month of December, we love it when family and friends drop by to visit and check out our lights. It’s a great excuse to gather.

How many lights do you think you have in your display this year?

At a guess, approximately 200,000.

What’s new about your display this year?

We’ve been asked this question a few times now from visitors, and at first we didn’t think we had added many new things, but on looking at our display we had actually added (or I should say changed) quite a bit. A few things to mention are: Santa in a helicopter, large bells on the front door, Santa in the toilet, reindeers in forest scene, Santa in the chimney, three white boomers and a few others.

Barry and Julie Collins enjoy spreading Christmas cheer with their lights display.

What’s your favourite part of the display and why?

That’s a hard one…. because we love so many things. If we had to choose one, we’d say the window display. We have a collection of all our favourite Christmas ornaments, such as Reggie the Reindeer and many items we have fallen in love with over the years.

When do you start planning your display each year?

We start planning next year’s display while we are packing it away.

When do you turn your lights on each year and when do you take them down?

We always aim for the first of December. We start dismantling the day after Boxing Day.

How does it feel when you see a child’s face light up as they take in your display?

It brings joy and happiness and makes all the hot and hard work feel worthwhile. We get asked all the time that our children must love our lights/display, and our response is that we don’t have any children but love that we are able to bring enjoyment to others. We see children grow as they visit each year.

It’s lovely to have people thank us for bringing Christmas joy to their family. We have members of the community who were strangers and because they come back year after year, they have become Christmas time acquaintances.

River 949 Christmas Lights competition entrants

Basin Pocket

1 Springall St

4 Norman St

26 Charlotte St

28 Mcleod St

Bellbird Park

195 Redbank Plains Rd


108 Naomai St


13a Green St


190 Pine Mountain Rd

10 Jimbour Ct


4 Banbury Cl


6 Abelia Ct


20 Berry St

Collingwood Park

6 Tone Dr

12 Eustace Ct

Deebing Heights

39 Rawlings Rd

East Ipswich

11 Trumper St

Eastern Heights

16 Edwards St

12 Minnis St


57 Ebenezer Rd

Flinders View

4 Inverness St

21 Hillier Ct

Lot 1 Nova Ct

3 Nova Ct

4 Nova Ct

6 Nova Ct

5 Nova Ct

54 Jacana Cres


35 Iris St


33 Salisbury Rd

59 Limestone St

99 Brisbane St

Unit 1-2, 13 Turley St

17 Limestone St


53 Brisbane Rd

North Booval

38 Gledson St

North Ipswich

9 Blackwood Ave

1 North St

8 Carl Lane

Pine Mountain

3 Pringle Pl


64 Anna Dr

36 Mahogany St

19 Westminster Cres

1 Explorer St

Redbank Plains

51 Frawley Dr

14 Vantage Pl

2 Alawoona St

5 Tindle St


23 Boyland Way


Shop 1/8 John St

9 Normanton Cl

10 Normanton Cl

14 Normanton Cl

22 Normanton Cl

4 Roblyn St

Sadliers Crossing

Unit 1- 24 Thomas St



2 Auld St


6 Ashbrook Pl

Springfield Lakes

9 Diana St

10 Diana St

12 Diana St

13 Diana St

18 Diana St

19 Diana St

21 Diana St

22 Diana St

23 Diana St

74 Jezabel Dr


8-10 Loder Rd


12 Wood St


9 Gledhow St


15 Capriole Cl

68 Sandalwood Dr

4 Yew St

21 Mustang St

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