“King” George Turner stands proudly in the newly built entrance to his castle, ready to welcome all the visitors this Christmas.
Starting December 19, he will start welcoming everyone into his Christmas light show, featuring all 60,000 lights at George’s Castle.
His nightly show has become Island tradition and the castle has kept growing over the past 15 years to become an icon of Kangaroo Island.
“I don’t have tickets on myself, I’m just an ordinary bloke that gets things done,” George said. “I am a down-to-earth farm bloke and if I want to get something done, I get it done.”
It’s been a tragic year for George, who lost his beloved wife Coral in a car accident at the Emu Bay intersection just down North Coast Road from the castle.
But he is determined to keep the castle going and the 75 year old said he has at least three years work on the castle ahead of him. Working on the castle in fact takes his mind off his loss.
“Now it’s the castle and me,” he said, having recently leased out the farm and selling off the animals.
He is having a big garage sale to clean up the house and also to raise much-needed funds to keep the lights and castle going.
The big garage sale is this Saturday, December 15 from 10am, no early entry. There will be sewing equipment and material, new lights in the box, furniture, linen and kitchen items.
Given that the Turner farmstead has stood since 1927, there’s bound to be some interesting items. George plans to have a big farm sale on the property sometime in January too.
George is the true definition of battler, born and raised on Kangaroo Island and self-described “jack of all trades”. His grandfather was also George.
“I’m the third George Turner in my family and I like to say ‘I’ve got a castle, so I am King George III,” he said. “The visitors love it and they say ‘See you King George’ as they leave.”
Castle build history
It all started back in 2002 when George has some spare five-rib corrugated iron sheeting and so he decided to built a single tower in his front garden.
“I started in the middle and made a tower like a fort with holes for windows and then we added lights,” he said. “A neighbor said he thought it looked all right and it just started spreading.”
It progressed to a second tower and then he put the small tree-house tower on top of the big pine tree.
He then added more free-standing towers, using large, 1-tonne concrete drainage pipes stood on their end.
The Turner homestead has its own real history and in its early days, an outbuilding housed the original Wisanger post office and telephone exchange.
“I remember all the letter racks and we had our own stamp for sealing envelopes,” he said.
George has had many jobs, including growing up working on the farm, being a yacca gum contractor and then getting into earth-moving, developing his own quarry and digging out dams and even the ponds at the old Min-Oil Road fun park.
It costs about $7 per hour to run the lights and the costs of maintenance and recent additions, including a disabled accessible toilet, all add up.
He has a donation tin at the front of the castle but is adamant he never asks for funds and there is no pressure to contribute.
“People leave something if they want to,” he said.
He loves interacting with the visitors and has had international tourists say they were coming back to see the progress.
He has had great offers of help from the local community and has a network of close friends supporting him.
George Turner is a bit of DJ with a whole collection of Christmas friendly "gentle" music and train footage to play during his Christmas shows.
He had help from local David Rhodes to set up the stereo system, and it’s loud enough to be heard down on the road.
Even though you can’t miss the castle on North Coast Road just passed Emu Bay, it has largely been one of those best-kept Kangaroo Island secrets known only to locals.
And the odd mainland and international visitors that stumble upon it.
George will officially be switching on the Christmas lights at his castle on North Coast Road every night from about December 19 to January 1. The show usually goes from 8pm to 10.30pm.
The Islander meanwhile has an online Christmas lights map, so let us know about your lights and we can add you to the map!