Carnival-goers have a chipper time

GALLERY: Rheola Charity Carnival

Revellers were treated to some awe-inspiring sights at the 144th Rheola Charity Carnival.

Indeed, for a minute one could think they'd stepped into a time machine to Banjo Paterson's Australia - a swagman and billy would not have looked out of place.

There were sheep dog competitions, all manner of contraptions spluttering out smoke in the historic engines display and men comparing the brawn of their monsters in the tractor pull.

But it was the main attraction - the wood chopping competition - that was perhaps most impressive.

Men and boys became regular lumberjacks: hacking, sawing and swinging their hearts out for glory.

Competitions ran all day and the winners were awarded a small cash prize and a trophy.

Dick Johnstone, one of the organisers of the carnival, said he thought this year had brought a record attendance.

"It's great for the community to come together from far and wide," he said.

"It's one of the oldest events in Victoria that's still running.

"It's a family event ... It will keep going for a lot of years to come."

Mr Jonstone said wood chopping was a sport often passed on through generations and that boys mostly learned the art from their fathers at home.

But he said youngsters had to have at least 12 months of practice before they could participate in a competition, as even a minor error could be dangerous.

"We're here to cut wood, not toes," he said.

He said some people had travelled from as far as Queensland for the wood chopping competition.

Carnival secretary Anne Leach said many of the families in attendance had long ties to Rheola and surrounds.

She said although many families had dispersed from the town and now lived in different parts of Victoria, they still returned each year for the historic carnival.

"It's like a big family reunion," she said. 

"This is what the community is all about."

Rheola is a small town of just 140 people, 60 kilometres west of Bendigo near Inglewood.

During the gold rush it had some of the world's largest goldfields.

All proceeds from the carnival will go to the Inglewood and Dunolly hospitals, the Rheola public hall and Rheola Pioneers' Park.


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