Furious action as the chips fly
Muscles flexed, axes soared and chips flew as the 51st Brunswick Heads Woodchop Carnival delivered another four-day feast of ‘fast and furious’ entertainment at Banner Park.
Organisers, who had braced themselves for rain, were overjoyed as the black clouds passed over Brunswick Heads, day after day, night after night.
“We felt so blessed that the weather held out for our carnival, but at the same time we were so shocked and sad about the terrible flooding and havoc in Brisbane and Queensland,” Brunswick Valley Woodchop and Entertainment Committee secretary Joy Slater said.
One of the visiting axemen found out that his home in Brisbane had gone under while he prepared to compete at the carnival.
Another axeman from Mackay was so determined to get to the woodchop for his 30th year that he travelled an extra 900km out of his way to get to Brunswick Heads in time to watch the first axe fall.
Several competitors and many visitors were unable to get to Brunswick Heads due to flooded roads or personal loss.
“There was a bit of a sombre mood, but there was also a sense of needing to rally together and do something to help,” Ms Slater said.
By the time Thursday afternoon’s competition drew to a close, the woodchop committee had joined with Rotary, the Hotel Brunswick and the Brunswick Heads Bowling Club in a fundraising drive.
All funds raised through this group effort will be distributed directly to people in need via Rotary organisations in Queensland.
The four-day woodchop carnival went without a hitch. Crowds grew steadily, culminating in a huge turnout for the finals and championships last Saturday evening.
Defending champions Queensland were victorious at the highly competitive State of Origin invitation teams relay in a nail-biting challenge.
Jayden Donovan took out the junior boys (13 years and under) 250mm underhand woodchop, while Mitchell Argent won first place in the senior boys (14 to under 18 years) division.
The spectacular tree felling championship, a crowd-drawing event of great skill and stamina, was won by Lindsay Hewitt, while Jamie Head and Mitchell Argent came first in the 325mm standing block handicap and the 300mm underhand handicap, respectively.
Brad De Losa, 33, from the Blue Mountains, provided some knockout performances across the four days, winning the 300mm standing block championship and the 325mm underhand championship, and taking out the carnival’s prestigious men’s champion of champions award.
“The champion of champions indicates the axeman’s ability and in Brad’s case reflects that he is a world-class axeman,” Joy said.
Mr De Losa, who has been competing professionally for five years, has won 18 NSW championships, five Australian and two world championships.
He said that while there is a lot of camaraderie out in the ring, there’s also a good lashing of rivalry.
“This is really the first competition of the year and of the season, so you want to get off to a good start,” he said.
This year’s woodchop also delivered some inspiring performances in the women’s divisions.
New Zealand’s Karmyn Wynyard had an impressive win in the 250mm underhand handicap, and another victory alongside husband Jason Wynyard in the 375mm double-handed sawing championship.
Karmyn Wynyard and Jillian Stratton tied for the women’s champion of champions award.
The crowd was also thrilled to see 15-year-old Vanessa Gossow, with grand-dad Neville Gossow, 73, taking out the 300mm double-sawing handicap, in the Jack and Jill division.
Together they represented the oldest and youngest competitors at the carnival.
Vanessa, who is from Crows Nest in Queensland, said she was from a ‘long line’ of family woodchoppers.
“I want to be as good as the girls in the Australian team. I have the drive and I really want to get somewhere with this,” she said.
Joy said it was inspiring to see the young women and men coming through the ranks to compete.
“It is also fantastic to have the support of so many young people in our ring crew – cleaning up the woodchips and clearing the mess after each event,” she said.
“We would be truly lost without the tireless efforts of our volunteers and supporters. Running the carnival is a big effort each year, but all the help makes it all worthwhile.”