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8 July, 2021

Woodchopping: a crowd pleaser

WOODCHOPPING, it’s a sport of power, precision, speed and definitely not for the faint-hearted. Visitors to the Cairns Show are encouraged to visit and spend some time as a spectator at the Woodchop Arena.

By Peter McCullagh

Woodchopping is potentially one of the oldest sport in Australia, where early settlers honed their skills clearing pastoral land and boasting of their tree-felling skills.

Woodchopping has always been an exciting addition to all Australian local shows attracting a rare breed of axeman and women keeping a heritage and tradition alive.

This year the Cairns Show Woodchop Arena will be filled with the sound of axes easily slicing though green candlenut blocks as 16 of the best axemen and women pit their skills against the clock and each other during the two day competition.

There are five main events in woodchopping: The Standing Block, Underhand, Tree Felling, Crosscut Sawing and a Team Relay.

Whilst competitor numbers might be reduced this year, due to COVID travel uncertainty, the standard of axemen and women is very high.

Legends on the circuit, the Barrett family are traveling north to challenge the best from Far North Queensland. Doc Barrett and his two children, Awieta and Takiah will be viewed as the ones to beat. Aweita Barrett is a brute of a lad, 16 years-old, 123 kilograms and wears size 18 shoes. Awieta is already carving a reputation on the circuit for power and precision in cutting.

Perhaps the most spectacular event on the program is the Tree Felling. Competitors scale a tree, 3.6 metres high to cut a block placed at the top, whilst standing on a flimsy and springy board embedded into the side of the tree. Tree Felling is not for the faint-hearted and is always a crowd pleaser.

Veteran Tree Feller Kerry Mitchell from Brisbane will contest the competition this year. Aged in his early 70s Mitchell shows the younger axeman how it should be done, and how it was done in his youth.

The North Queensland Axeman Association would like to thanks the Lavis family from the Goldborough Valley for the supply of the timber for this year’s competition as well as Brett Dempset Sawmilling for preparing the logs.

The woodchop runs on Thursday and Friday only at Cairns Show, commencing at 10am each day.


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