We started planning for the 2018 VTCC at Goulburn Park six months before we ran the 2017 event at Yarra Bend, and in all that time we hoped it would turn into something fairly special.
With 75 competitors being helped out by more than 50 volunteers, not to mention the dozen ormore Seymour Venturer’s cooking for us all day, we think we may just have run the most successful 2017 Tree Chimbing Championships ever.
On the banks of the Goulburn River, south of the centre of Seymour, Goulburn Park is home to many stately Red Gumsand assortment of native and exotic trees, not to mention a few bees, as Matt Benn TreeJay extraordinaire found out half-way through setting up.
With so many competitors we ran nine different stations, and in hindsight should have made it ten. The pick of them was the Red Gum right on the bank of the river that was used for the Master’s Work Climb, which later transitioned into the Masters’ Challenge. Given the temperature of the day sat mid-30s, the best place to be was under the Oak used for the Open Aerial Rescue.
We’re getting a little bit better at planning these events and the great work of Karl Morrow, from Melbourne Polytechnic, saw us with a list of nearly 50 volunteers a few weeks out from the event. With past Victorian and National Competition winners
“Terry Boston and Sam Hardingham gave our boys a run for their money and they’ll all be better at next year’s Nationals for the run.”
Grant Cody and Pat Kenyon living locally we relied on their assistance to identify the right trees for the competition and get them ready for the event. They were helped out by Mitchell Shire who also made getting all the permits and paperwork completed really easy.
Setting up the day before were Grant and Pat, with VTIO committee members, Will Rheese and the guys from Smith’s Tree Services along with a bunch of really great people chipping in to get the event stations ready.
At this stage we were comfortable we would have more than 60 competitors and may crack 65 once I got the last update from the online registration system. I’d been trying to reach the 60-competitor milestone since we ran with 58 in Bendigo a few years ago. By the time we finished the paperwork in the early hours of Saturday morning, we had more than 70. By the time competitors had finished signing in Saturday morning, that number hit 75 and, for the first timein my 10 years of being involved in the competitions, I was going home without a big bag of unused shirts.
The volunteers made the day happen and we started the day with all the competitors thanking the judges, technicians, scorers and behind-the-scene people that had decided to give some of their time to the tree industry that has been so good to them over the years. Without these people we would not have an event, but the event would not happen without all of our sponsors.
Cannings/ATREAS have been a major contributor to VTIO for longer than my involvement and I can’t begin to imaging what a competition would be like without them. Energy Safe Victoria has become a significant contributor to the success of VTIO and they were there to spread the word about the importance of working safely around electrical installations. If you’re ever unsure about working near powerlines, don’t do it! Contact your State body or the distribution business in charge of maintaining the assets. It’s not worth the risk.
I’d like to thank all of the interstate competitors – we had representatives from every state and territory bar Western Australia; we’re looking to go one better next year! Terry Boston and Sam Hardingham gave our boys a run for their money and they’ll all be better at next year’s Nationals for the run.
Maja Blasch was in fine form on the day and had the wood on our Bec Barnes. In hindsight I think Bec was saving herself for the NSWArb Comp the following week, where she came home with the chocolates. Well, done Bec and the NSWArb, it looked like a great day and I can’t wait to steal some of those ideas for ArborCamp 2019.
There’re always things going wrong with an event of this size and, lucky for me, they are usually invisible to participants and audience alike. This year we had a significant issue with the scores which became apparent toward the end of the day. The next day I realised that many of the results we announced were wrong and completed a full audit of the scores.
The top three place-getters in the Men’s Masters remained the same, so we breathed a big sigh of relief knowing that Barton wining his sixth consecutive VTCC is undisputed. Well done on a run that is unlikely to be challenged any time soon Barton, you’ve been a great champion that has done much to improve the level of competitors coming out of Victoria; thank you.
Our worst-case scenario was realised in both the Men’s Open and Student grades when the audit showed we had handed out the Overall awards to the wrong people. On notifying Nicholas Bond (Open) and Asher Wedding (Student) of the mix-up, they both took the news with great grace and where genuinely happy that Joshua Kidman and Jake Nyhouse were correctly identifiedas the winners overall of the Open and Student grades. I continue to be impressed by the grace shown by our competitors and should stop being surprised by it as it happens so often.
VTIO is committed to promoting safe work place practices and improving the skill sets of all tree workers; these are our core issues. Recently we have focused on gender equity imbalances in the tree industry and promoting the awareness of men’s physical and mental well-being.
I’m both sad and glad to say this year we handed perpetual shield to the winner of the Women’s Masters for the first time ever; glad because Rebecca Barnes thoroughly deserves to be awarded the honour and sad that Kiah Martin, Jess Knott and Julia Chilcott never received the acknowledgement they deserved. I’m sorry we didn’t have this in place many years ago.
Holding the competition in ‘Movember’ each year helps us raise awareness of men’s mental health. The great Beaver Kindred has, with the help of some industry contacts, initiated the Tim Broadbent Memorial award. Tim put a lot of effort into helping develop young climbers and assist those new to the industry. This award is a fitting way to remember Tim and remind us all that we should always think about being there for those in need. The award is presented to a participant in the Student Grade that shows commitment and perseverance; it’s a difficult prize to award when there are so many dedicated students taking part in the day. The inaugural winner, Samantha McConnell, was a worthy recipient.