DAN Shipman had never seen anything like it – a world dominated by skyscrapers, a place completely different from his surroundings growing up in the Clarence Valley.
For Shipman, 22, who grew up on a property at Glenreagh, the experience he had on the international stage in China is one he is unlikely to forget.
Just over two weeks ago the champion woodchopper and Grafton Ghosts footballer left the comfort of his home for a whirlwind tour of China and Hong Kong, where he was one of four entertainers/competitors selected to represent Australia at the International Easter Show launch.
Shipman was joined on the trip by fellow woodchopper Brett Monaghan (Lithgow), Australian whip-cracking champion Daniel Wicks (Gunnedah) and Psycho Sideshow performer Shep Huntly (Melbourne).
Shipman, who only recently returned home, said that during his 10 days in China he took part in a series of woodchopping demonstrations in a host of locations including shopping malls, cafes and hotels.
“It was amazing performing in front of thousands of people, it was like nothing I had ever seen or felt before,” he said.
“We had a really good response from people, hopping across towns in taxis, trying several different ways to explain where you wanted to go, eating Chinese food that was different to what I am used to ... nothing like the way Australians cook it.
“I didn’t think woodchopping would take me this far, over to China, it was such a whirlwind experience to go to another country.
“I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity to be able to show people what I enjoy doing and it felt great to represent Australia.”
Shipman will compete in Sydney at the Royal Easter Show from April 14-27.
He will be one of about 90 competitors vying for top honours.
“I am not nervous, if anything I am looking forward to the challenge,” he said.
“I enjoy sport, playing rugby league helps keep me fit for woodchopping.”
Royal Agricultural Society chief executive Peter King said the experience of chopping extra-hard Chinese wood was sure to be great training for Shipman ahead of the upcoming Easter Show.
A series of performances during Shipman’s tour were staged at the Tseung Kwan O’s East Point City shopping centre, with more than 10,000 families and shoppers getting a taste of what the Royal Show is all about.
King said that recent research indicated that Asian tourists would travel to Sydney to see a large variety of unique Australian content in one place so close to Sydney.
“They love the fact that the show is an Australian tradition and they are able to get hands on with some of the best livestock and produce in the land,” King said.
“Asia has no such show and they are looking for experiential attractions where they can immerse themselves in Australian culture with ease.”
King said the great attraction of the Sydney Royal Easter Show to the international market was the ability to engage directly with what is unique about Australia – they see it, touch it, smell it and even step in it.
“The Royal Easter Show is the ‘real deal’,” he said.
“It is the best event in Australia to experience the depth and sincerity of the Australian way of life.”
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