Bruce Hayes – Tasmania
Bruce was born on the 11th January 1944 in Devonport, Tasmania to Father Frederick and mother Joyce Hays. Bruce resided in the North West coast of Tasmania, Wilmost as a child and throughout his youth and Ulverstone, Turners Beach and Wesley Vale as an adult.
Bruce was married to Anthea and had three sons Garry, Phillip and Dean. From approximately 23 to 45 years old he worked as a roof tiler. From 35 years old onwards he also began farming his own property and was subsequently able to gradually reduce his work in roof tiling.
A keen cricketer and footballer as a youth, played badminton and squash as a young man. Currently enjoys woodturning and wood crafts using Tasmanian endemic timbers, he can be found most weekends at the Axeman’s Hall of Fame at his Wood craft stall.
Bruce Hays won his inaugural tree-felling event at the Burnie New Years Day Tree ini 1973 and again, approximately 30 years later won his first tree at the same event. Bruce won this event on at least 5 occasions. In the 1991-1992 chopping season he won 34 events which included 12 tree-felling events.
In 1992 he self-funded and travelled to New Zealand and competed at the same time and alongside a selected Australian Axemen’s Team; he won the World Championship Tree-felling event, the Australian championship tree and the 12inch standing event, which at that time was the richest standing event in New Zealand.
He is the only North West Tasmanian axemen to win a World Championship tree-felling event.
On a single trip to Victoria he competed in consecutive shows over a three day period and was the winner of the three tree-felling events at each show, he won a further three events during the same period, including the Wangaratta 13inch Standing events, at the time, the richest chopping events in Australia.
Bruce was an active sportsman from a youth onwards, he left Wilmot at 17 to commence an apprnticeship and play football for Ulverstone Football Club, where he accrued 130 senior appearances. At age 22 he gave cricket away (he had been a fast bowler) and turned his attention during the summers to the sport of woodchopping. He was very proud that his sport had its beginnings at Sprent, virtually his own backyard, and enjoyed researching the orignis of chopping as a sport and the names of pioneer woodchopping champions.
Bruce won championships in all disciplines of the sport; tree-felling, underhand, standing, single and double-handed sawing. He could be considered a true “All-rounder’ axeman. As well as participating in all disciplines, he also perfected the art (or science) of grinding axes. A great many axemen from around Australia were keen to have an axe ground by Bruce in their axe-box and many a championship event was won with the competitor utilising a ‘Bruce Special’.
From his earliest involvement with wood chopping Bruce assisted with the organisation and preparation of chopping events and for the next 35 years was a member of the North West Axemen’s Association (NWAA) Committee.
Bruce was the driving force behind the Turners Beach chopping carnival for 10 years. The carnival grew to be the largest single day carnival in Tasmania. One particular year, when the event had outgrown its “One Day “status, and had expanded into a two day carnival; Bruce cut and trimmed 800 logs single handed in order for the show to go ahead. Bruce was especially proud that monies raised from Turners Beach chopping carnivals benefited the greater community as all proceeds were donated to the Turners Beach Football and Cricket Clubs, assisting with the eventual construction of new clubrooms at that venue.
In 1992/93 Bruce was awarded the NWAA “Axeman of the year “and later in 1993 was made a Life-Member of the NWAA for his services to wood chopping.