Majors Creek woodchopper Curtis Bennett is proudly following in the footsteps of his world champion grandfather Len Bennett.
Bennett, 23, will head to the Australian Woodchopping and Sawing Championships in Brisbane in August where he hopes to secure a world title, inspired by his grandfather, who was crowned world champion in 1975 and held the Australian title for seven consecutive years.
“The inspiration I gained for the sport definitely stemmed from my grandfather and also my father [Simon], who was a woodchopper of quite some success, winning multiple state titles in NSW and Victoria in the mid to late ’90s,” Bennett said.
”He was the captain of the NSW team for five years also.”
Born and raised in Majors Creek near Braidwood, Bennett has been woodchopping in competitions since he was 12 but says he has “always had an axe in my hand”.
Weighing in at 135 kilograms and 193 centimetres tall, ”Bubba”, as he’s better known, recently returned from the STIHL Timbersports Rookie World Championship in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, with a silver medal in his hands.
He narrowly missed out on the top spot in the under-25s competition pointscore after taking part in the underhand chop, stock saw, single buck and springboard events.
He soared into an early lead with back-to-back personal bests in the underhand chop and stock saw events, but Poland’s Szymon Groenwald finished strongly with two world record times and was crowned the rookie champion.
“I was lucky enough to win the Australian Rookie Championship that took place on the Gold Coast last year, which then took me on to the world stage in June,” Bennett said.
“Don’t get me wrong, I was stoked with the silver medal in Rotterdam, but I always strive for that gold medal.
“The feeling of being on the podium and having the opportunity to represent my country over in Europe is a feeling that can never be replicated.
“From here, now I go back into that competition this year in Wollongong in September to try and claim my spot back onto the world stage to try and go back to get that gold medal.”
He will travel to the Royal Brisbane Show in August to compete in the world and Australian titles before heading to Wollongong and Adelaide in September.
Bennett recalls his first competition at the Berry Show at the age of 12, where he placed second in the under-13 boys’ chop under the watchful eyes of his father and grandfather.
He travels around Australia competing in woodchopping all year round and, in his junior years, won nine U18 championships and five U21 titles.
“I competed for the U21 Australian team for five years and have competed in the open NSW team for the last six years, also travelling to New Zealand and the Nowra Show to take place in those races,” Bennett said.
He now competes in Australian and world titles in both the rookie and open divisions, with his best open placing third in Australia and seventh in the world.
“In and around all the shows that I compete at, the local ones are the ones I take the most pride in, like the Canberra and Sydney shows,” he added.
A mechanic and fabricator by trade, Bennett is a part-owner of a family business that builds and produces commercial firewood-processing equipment.
He and his partner Hallie have a baby on the way and Bennett says she “supports my every move, we go everywhere and do everything together”.
”Bubba Bennett” has a following on TikTok where you can watch his woodchopping action videos.