World champion woodchopper David Foster is a veteran of his sport and a stalwart of his local community in Tasmania. 

Story + Photos Andrew Bain

It’s a slow walk down the main street of Latrobe for David Foster. His white ute is parked metres from the bakery where he’s meeting wife Jan and daughter Janelle for morning tea, but every few steps he stops to inquire after people’s health and catch up on life. Even strangers seem drawn to him. “You’d make a great wind buffer,” says an elderly woman as she passes, pointing to this 175kg frame. It’s a pretty typical walk for the man who might well be Australia’s most successful sportsman.

“Jan goes crook at me,” he says. “I go to the post office and I talk to so many people that I come back two hours later.”

As a woodchopper and athlete, David’s achievements are unsurpassed. Throughout more than four decades of competition he’s won 186 world titles and more than 1800 championships. As far as he knows, no other athlete in any sport has ever won more than 1000 championships.

He’s 62 now and his hands remain strong, his shoulders are as broad as continents, and the suffering back lawn of his weatherboard home in the northern Tasmanian city of Devonport is stacked with the logs he still uses in training. But Father Time is catching up. It’s been five years since David won his last world title, at the remarkable age of 57.

“I’ve never officially retired,” he says. “But you do lose that little bit of killer instinct."

The full version of this story was published in both OUTBACK magazine and the 2019 edition of our special one-shot magazine Great Australians.

This story excerpt is from Issue #127

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2019