Nominations open for Australian Hand Cane Cutting Championships

Australia’s best hand cane cutters are preparing to slice through the competition this June, with nominations for the 2019 Australian Hand Cane Cutting Championships opening today.

During the annual competition, competitors will race to harvest sugar cane armed only with a cane knife. Cane sticks must then be neatly stacked after being cut, and no more than 5cm of the cane should be left behind in the field – or else penalties apply.

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor and past competitor Lyn McLaughlin said the national championships was the ultimate test of skill and endurance.

“Hand cane cutting is dirty, back-breaking work. You have to swing a knife over and over again as you cut and lay the sticks as quickly as possible,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“Walking around the showgrounds, you can tell who’s competed that day because they’re typically covered head to toe with sticky black residue.”

There are seven different cane cutting divisions this year.

The male divisions are broken into the Under 35 Years, 35 to 55 Years and Over 55 Years divisions.

Age will go out the window when the top eight male competitors progress to the final where they compete for the title of Australia’s best hand cane cutter.

Women can compete in the Ladies Cup or the inaugural Ladies Novice – an event aimed at first timers. Teams of four can also compete in either the Swindley Memorial Cut, Top and Load or the inaugural Corporate Challenge.

Last year, more than 30 people from across Australia entered the unique competition.

Cr McLaughlin says the Australian Hand Cane Cutting Championships is one of three events that make up the Sweet Days, Hot Nights Festival.

“The Sweet Days, Hot Nights Festival is a uniquely Burdekin experience. There are very few places in Australia that even burn sugar cane anymore,” she said,

“To see a one-hectare cane field fire as part of the First Fire event, and then watch that same field be used during the Australian Hand Cane Cutting Championships is something that people can’t experience anywhere else in Australia.”

The Australian Hand Cane Cutting Championships is presented by Queensland Sugar Limited and kicks off at 11am on Saturday 1 June at the Home Hill Showgrounds.

A Cutters Muster will be held prior to event to provide young and new competitors the chance to learn skills from experienced hand cane cutters.

To nominate, visit,  phone Burdekin Shire Council’s Tourism Department on (07) 4783 9800 or email . Competitors can also nominate on the day.

For more information, visit

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