Flying axes always delight to see

THE woodchopping competition has been a staple of Australian agricultural shows from colonial times.

Throughout Australian history, woodchopping and sawing competitions have been held wherever bushmen worked.

The first formal competitions started in Tasmania and to this day men from the Apple Isle leads the world in what is one of the few sports to evolve from an occupation.

The first recorded competition was in 1870, when Tasmanian Joseph Smith took on Jack Briggs of Victoria for a £25 prize purse.

A dispute turned into an all-in brawl.

The United Australasian Axemen's Association was founded in 1891 and later that year the first world woodchopping championships were held in Atkinson's saleyards at Latrobe, Victoria.

Competitive woodchopping has always been a family-oriented sport, with sons following their fathers and grandfathers, and more recently daughters and granddaughters participating.

Woodchopping made its debut at the Sydney Royal Show in 1899 in front of 8000 people.

It became a regular feature of the Show in 1911 and the Royal Agricultural Society formed the RAS Axemen's Association of NSW in 1949.

The sport has been an important part of the Blacktown Show from the beginning, making its debut at the inaugural event in 1920.

■ This year's Blacktown Show competition, sponsored by Blacktown RSL, will start at 11am on March 8 behind the Big Top.

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