How much wood has she watched chopped?
Posted on : 13 April 2017
Written by: Elise Pfeiffer
Marshall Newton’s love affair with the Sydney Royal Easter Show’s woodchop event began in 1955. She was just five years old but the electrifying atmosphere of the arena was enough to spark an interest that would span 62 years. Fast forward to 2017 and Marshall has never missed a Show.
Each year she can be found nestled in amongst the crowd, cheering on the woodchoppers. In between the crowd’s applause and the thundering cracks of wood, Marshall records every detail; eagerly waiting to see which log will come crashing down first.
The intensity of each round has her hooked, so much so that she travels over an hour to watch the event – rain, hail or shine. She attends every day of the Show, only missing one in 2016 due to a chemotherapy session. But she doesn’t let her breast cancer treatment get in the way of her favourite sport, always allowing enough time to get to and from appointments without missing any of the heats.
After many years of spectating, Marshall knows all too well that just seconds could mean the difference between seeing that final swing of the axe send the first log down and missing the round completely – a chance she isn’t willing to take.
Despite never having tried the sport herself, Marshall says the ‘Wimbledon of woodchop’ appeals to her because of the skill, strength and dedication required by all competitors.
“I love that woodchopping is such an honest sport,’’ Marshall says.
“If you are winning, you’re winning and its fair game for everyone.”
For every woodchopper she sees retire, a new one enters and Marshall enjoys watching their skills and ranking improve over competitions. Marshall has become a familiar face in the Woodchop Stadium, often chatting with competitors, cheering them on and even giving prizes. And while she remains adamant she doesn’t have a favourite competitor, Marshall does admit that Treefelling is definitely her favourite category.
Treefelling is a sport that requires incredible skill and stamina as woodchoppers climb the tree pole, cutting board holes and using tree boards to ascend. Whilst balancing on the top board, the axeman cuts the block half-way through before descending and hastily climbing the opposite side to eventually cut the pole in half. This category has everyone on the edge of their seats watching the axemen balance and anxiously waiting to see who will split their log first.
After 62 years of watching the Woodchopping Stadium Marshall has no intention of breaking her Royal Easter Show streak. She promises she’ll be back in her favourite spot on the Concourse this time next year.