Cracker of a comp for young whip crackers
THE young guns of Australian whip cracking were in Clifton at the weekend for the Queensland Whip Cracking and Plaiting Championships, held at the Showgrounds.
The Kelly family of brothers, Blake 4, Ethan 8 and Eli 10, of Gunnedah, are only young in years, but have several titles to their names.
Ethan and Eli have been competing at the Clifton event for the past four years, and on Sunday Ethan won the Pee Wee category.
Ethan is no stranger to the winner's circle, having won the titles of Victorian Pee Wee Whip Cracking Champion and New South Wales Pee Wee Champion in the past.
This is his last year of competing in the Pee Wee age group, which is open to whip-crackers eight years and under.
His big brother Eli has won Australian Pee Wee Whip Cracking Champion twice, and also has Queensland and New South Wales titles under his belt.
He placed second in the Juvenile category in Sunday's championships.
All are accomplished little whip crackers, and the youngest of all, Blake, has been trying to crack a whip since he was two, says his proud mum, Alison.
Blake was placed third in the Novice category at the weekend.
"He has had smaller whips made for him, by Gunnedah whip maker, Steve Wicks," Alison said.
"They were custom made for him, as whips are usually the height of the child," she said.
"The kids had only been cracking whips for about two weeks, when we came up to Clifton the first year."
Alison is also a whip cracker, but this year didn't compete at Clifton.
"I have competed in the past and placed up here," she said.
"Whip cracking is really like a family sport for us, as well as footy and tennis."
Another family of whip crackers who travelled to Clifton for the competition were brother and sister duo Nathan and Jemima Griggs, of Nymboida, in New South Wales.
It was only the first time Jemima, 24, had competed at the Queensland Championships in Clifton, and she won the Novice category as well as placing second in the Ladies Open.
Nathan, 19, has been whip cracking for the past five years, and last year placed second in the Open Men's category in Clifton.
This year he again took home the red ribbon in the Open Men's category as well and placing third in the Open Bullock Whip category.
Luke Fritsch, 16, from Mt Gambier, South Australia, won the Junior category and Champion of Champions.
Organiser, Hilary O'Leary, said the championships were again successful, although numbers were slightly down in the whip cracking categories.
- Pee Wee (8 yrs and under): Ethan Kelly, Gunnedah.
- Juvenile (12 yrs and under): Henry Pitman, Moree.
- Junior (16 yrs and under): Luke Fritsch, South Australia.
- Novice: Jemima Griggs, Nymboida.
- Open Ladies: Katie Wicks, Gunnedah.
- Open Men's: Daniel Wicks, Gunnedah.
- Open Bullock Whip: Daniel Wicks.
- Champion of Champions: Luke Fritsch.
- Encouragement Award: Brian Nemeth Whips and Wade Wooler.
- Wicks Family DVD Encouragement Award: Gabby Wooler.