Veteran axeman can't stop

Proving age is no barrier to woodchopping are Brunswick Heads WoodchopCarnival competitors Garth Martin, 79, Vanessa Gossow, 14, and Cameron Marsh, 11.
Proving age is no barrier to woodchopping are Brunswick Heads WoodchopCarnival competitors Garth Martin, 79, Vanessa Gossow, 14, and Cameron Marsh, 11. Jay Cronan

AT AGE 79, Garth Martin is still chipper to be chopping at the Woodchop Carnival at the Brunswick Heads Fish ’n’ Chips Festival this weekend.

Sixty-eight years separate Mr Martin and the youngest competitor, 11-year-old Cameron Marsh. Mr Martin said this was proof age was no barrier in his sport.

“I feel wonderful to be competing against the younger guys this year. It’s a great sport to meet people and it helps me stay young and fit,” he said.

Mr Martin is considered a legend among his fellow competitors and tries to encourage the continuation of his sport in future generations of competitors.

“I walk around at events like this and encourage the young ones hanging around to take it up. I like to help and give advice to anyone who asks for it,” he said.

Young Cameron is looking to take out the boys’ junior event.

“I’ve been woodchopping for one year and really want to win my age division,” he said.

Cameron’s dad taught him to chop and he looks to him for advice.

“My dad is my hero. He has been chopping for 13 years,” he said.

The youngest girl chopper, Vanessa Gossow, 14, from Queensland, is not concerned she is going up against women twice or even three times her age.

“It’s a bit intimidating, but once I enter the ring I forget all about it. I don’t even notice who I’m chopping against once I’m in there,” she said.

Vanessa has caught ‘chopping fever’ and can’t get enough of the sport.

“The whole atmosphere is great. I get so much joy out of this woodchop event and get the biggest buzz when I step out in the ring,” she said.

All competitors, old and young, are sharpening their axes as the competition heats up for the final rounds this weekend.

Mathew Stratton, 40, from the Gold Coast, is tipped to win the premier standing block and under-hand events.

Mr Stratton, who has been chopping for 25 years, has won countless woodchopping championships, but says most of his victories come down to luck on the day.

“A fair portion of my wins come down to luck. It really depends on how good the wood you draw is,” he said.

Mr Stratton said he planned to keep woodchopping for many years to come.

“Once you start woodchopping it’s hard to stop. I’m going to be doing it till I’m 80, if I’m still going then,” he said.


Woodchop events at Banner Park from midday to 5pm

Woodchop events at Banner Park 7pm to 9pm

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