THE MAGIC LIVES ON IN TOODYAY

Avon Valley Gazette - - CHRISTMAS 2016 - Lynn Gri­er­son

SOME­TIMES magic is found in places you least ex­pect it.

For those in search of a lit­tle child­hood magic this sea­son, an un­ex­pected find on the main street of Toodyay is a year- round Christmas store be­lieved to be the largest in WA and the se­cond largest in Aus­tralia.

The qui­etly un­der­stated ex­te­rior of the shop be­lies the Christmas cav­ern in­side, where vis­i­tors re­live their child­hood mem­o­ries amid the tin­sel and fairy lights.

Elec­tri­cian Sean By­ron opened the 600 sq m shop in the small colo­nial town, steeped in the his­tory of the in­fa­mous bushranger Moon­dyne Joe and his ad­ven­tures in the Avon Val­ley.

“Some­times peo­ple just come in­side and stay awhile, forget their wor­ries and get lost in their mem­o­ries,” he said.

“Peo­ple will browse from 20 min­utes to an hour; it’s easy to lose track of time in here.”

Mr By­ron opened the busi­ness three years ago to ful­fil the am­bi­tion he shared with his late part­ner Dr Richard Walk­ley, who passed away ear­lier the same year.

The long- serv­ing Toodyay doc­tor was awarded the Or­der of Aus­tralia Medal posthu­mously for ser­vices to medicine and the com­mu­nity.

Di­ag­nosed with gall blad­der cancer in Novem­ber 2012, Dr Walk­ley was never to see the store open.

Richard’s Christmas 360 is ded­i­cated to his me­mory as a place where peo­ple are able to es­cape and im­merse them­selves in an­other world.

In­spired by trips to the US and Europe, the va­cant ware­house was pur­chased by the cou­ple on the premise of ‘ build it and the peo­ple will come’.

“We used to dec­o­rate Sean By­ron, owner of the Christmas 360 shop in Toodyay. Richard’s med­i­cal cen­tre; ev­ery year the dec­o­ra­tions would be­come more elab­o­rate,” Mr By­ron said. “Toodyay peo­ple see the shop as a liv­ing me­mory to Richard. “I en­joy go­ing to work ev­ery day in a shop that has be­come a year- round tourist at­trac­tion.” Christmas may have be­come an over- com­mer­cialised hol­i­day, but in the words of Roald Dahl: “Those who don’t be­lieve in magic will never find it”. Richard’s Christmas 360 is open ev­ery day, in­clud­ing Christmas Eve, and will re­open with a sale in April. The store helped light up up the Toodyay Christmas Street Fes­ti­val on Fri­day evening last week, when hun­dreds of rev­ellers en­joyed the fam­ily at­trac­tions and free en­ter­tain­ment. The idea for the an- nual event came out of the ashes of the Toodyay bush­fire in 2009.

Shire of Toodyay com­mu­nity devel­op­ment ad­vi­sor Clare McGowan said the Cham­ber of Com­merce party had be­come a high­light of the Toodyay event cal­en­dar for young and old.

“The whole town gets into the Christmas spirit and the main street comes alive filled with Christmas lights and mu­sic,” she said.

“It’s great to see so many sup­port lo­cal busi­nesses.”

Pic­tures: David Baylis www. com­mu­ni­typix. com. au d462696

Jack­son By­field ( 3), Co­hen Pearce ( 5) and To­rah Pearce ( 2) en­joy them­selves in­side the Christmas 360 shop in Toodyay.

tree A 30- foot Christmas across the in­stal­la­tion Christmas road from the 360 shop.

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