Town carving out tourist drawcard

l Champion chainsaw power carver Angela Polglaze carves an owl during a demonstration at Walwa Primary School on Monday. Picture: NIC GIBSON
l Champion chainsaw power carver Angela Polglaze carves an owl during a demonstration at Walwa Primary School on Monday. Picture: NIC GIBSON

A TOP chainsaw artist is backing an Upper Murray town’s bid to carve out a new tourism niche.

Melbourne’s Angela Polglaze was in Walwa on Monday to support businessman Steve Caldwell’s plan to hold the nation’s biggest chainsaw power carving event next year.

Ms Polglaze, an Australian National Chainsaw Carving champion, is known throughout the country and internationally for turning 3m by 1m logs into intricate sculptures including cowgirls in bathtubs, farm animals and furniture.

In 2007 she was a founding member of the Chainsaw Chix, an international, woman carving team which travels the world with their craft.

Ms Polglaze said she would help source international chainsaw carvers, including from the USA and Germany, for the four-day event Mr Caldwell hopes to stage in April or May next year.

She said the concept behind the event was to carve sculptures in public, have a people’s choice award for their favourite and at the end the artworks would be installed in the town.

“They would be a major tourist drawcard and add to the streetscape,” Ms Polglaze said.

She said similar “sculpture trails” had been done in Lakes Entrance and Hope, in Canada, with great success.

“In towns like Hope and Lakes Entrance they have revitalised the town and their general economy,” Ms Polglaze said.

Mr Caldwell said a final venue had not been decided but he hoped to stage the attraction in Walwa’s main street and possibly have some carvers in Jingellic as well.

He said 20,000 people could visit over the four-day event.

“This will be of international standard, it won’t be your average chainsaw event you have at a side show,” the Towong council candidate said.

“It will be the biggest chainsaw event in Australia.

“We need to bring festivals and large events to the district because it helps to promote arts and tourism ... it promotes the towns, the Upper Murray and brings people to the district.”

Mr Caldwell said Hancock Victorian Plantations and Hyne Timber Mill were interested in promoting the event and the Towong and Tumbarumba councils had indicated they would support it.

He said sponsorship and community support was also needed.

Ms Polglaze said she would also help source the timber for the event and with installing the sculptures.