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Axemen lumber up

Chopped down by the polarising policy to save WA’s old growth forest, a regional sporting icon is regenerating through a band of young axemen.

When old growth forest logging was stopped in 2001, it not only signalled the end for the mills that were the lifeblood of many towns, but it also started the decline in the competitive art of log chopping.

But today, young woodchoppers including John Giblett, 27, and Luke Giblett, 22, will compete for $2500 in prize money at the Deanmill Workers Club near Manjimup as part of a bid to rekindle the dying sport.

They will chop through 30cm of jarrah in less than 40sec. with axes costing up to $800.

Alongside them will be their 58-year-old father Garry Giblett, whose youngest son Clayton plays in the WAFL for Perth, and his long-time mate and chopping legend Peter “Chook” Clarke.

The latter, a four-time Perth Royal Show champion, said that as mills shut in places such as Nyamup, Quinninup, Tone River, Donnelly River, Shannon River, Jardee, Northcliffe and Pemberton, sponsorship dried up and chopper numbers dwindled.

“It stuffed a lot of small towns and these days we get 10 young blokes start and only one carries on,” Clarke, a four-time Perth Royal Show champion, said.

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