Australia’s toughest woodchoppers are preparing their axes and gearing up to compete for the coveted Golden Axe at the 2023 Melbourne Royal Show.
The adrenaline pumping, crowd-pleasing Melbourne Royal Woodchop Championships will be held during the first four days of the show, from September 21-24. Stepping up to the chopping block – and the podium – will be particularly special to year as Melbourne Royal celebrates 175 years with commemorative ribbons and prizes.
Difficulties securing suitable alpine ash logs earlier this year cast doubt on the historic event, but with the assistance of Victorian Axemen's Association, the show will now go on and the class schedule has been launched.
The championships attract Australia’s best woodchop exhibitors who will be competing in a range of classes, including women’s classes in underhand and sawing, team relay and sawing. The competition comes to an exciting climax with the presentation of the grand aggregate trophy or Golden Axe.
Glen Gillam from Victoria, pictured, took out the Golden Axe at the 2022 Melbourne Royal Show. Glen is one of the most successful woodchoppers in Australia, having first cut down his mum’s apple tree at the ripe old age of four.
These days he channels his passion into professional competitions and has the Australian and World Stihl Timbersports Championships titles under his belt, adding to an impressive list of domestic and international accolades.
Glen will be joined by champion and handicap woodchop exhibitors from across the country, competing for a share of over $42,500 in prizes and trophies.
Legend has it that a bet in a bar between two men in Ulverstone, Tasmania in 1870 inspired the sport we now know as woodchopping. Jack Biggs from Warragul, Victoria and Joseph Smith from Ulverstone, had a wager for 25 pounds to see who could fell a tree the fastest.
Woodchopping was first introduced at the Royal Melbourne Show in 1911, with just two events – standing block and underhand and there were 22 competitors in each event. In 1912, two other events – single hand sawing and a standing teams race of two men were included. The centenary of woodchopping at the Melbourne Royal Show was celebrated in 2011 with a special heritage event.
Entries for the 2023 Melbourne Royal Woodchop Championships close Sunday, July 2.
For more information about the competition, click here.