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Experience I HEALTH

A whole new ballgame Heed the call of the wild in central Melbourne at a new venue dedicated to a medieval sport WORDS CHLOE CANN

Try it here full-time as a Qantas pilot) was introduced to the pastime by a friend while on secondment in Canada in 2010. “When I first heard about it my reaction to the whole thing was, ‘Sorry, what do you do?’” he says. But curious, Stephen went to see what all the fuss was about. He wound up becoming a regular at Tuesday night sessions in a back-alley warehouse, where a crosssection of folks would come together to throw axes competetively. Of the appeal, he explains: “It was a good group of people that wouldn’t be hanging out otherwise – a couple of lawyers, a couple of bikies, local

shop owners. The reason why it’s so popular now is that it’s back to basics – there’s nothing high tech or complicated about it. It’s good simple fun and everyone leaves with a big grin on their face.” All proceedings are overseen by a member of staff, and our ringmaster, Jerome, thrives in his role of ringing in the scores and entertaining everyone during the safety briefing with oneliners (“I know you wanna touch it and see how sharp it is – but don’t”). Axe throwing, we learn, revolves around skill not strength, so even those with feeble physiques can triumph at this medieval

Find Maniax at 19/21 Russell St, Abbotsford, Melbourne, and 01/75 Mary St, St Peters, Sydney. maniax.com.au

sport. Stephen calls it an alternative to lawn bowls (albeit a game that involves using muscles you didn’t know you possessed) and says it’s popular for any occasion – birthdays, hen parties, corporate days out. And with further venues on the cards, it won’t be long until more Aussies are invited to ‘bury the hatchet’. “We’re looking at Brisbane and Adelaide next and might even expand into NZ,” says Stephen. “We want to bring axe throwing to the masses.”

PHOTOGRAPHY MANIAX

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“IT’S JUST LIKE GOLF,” says Jerome as I gingerly approach the red line on the floor, ready to face down my opponent while wielding my newfound weapon. We’re in a converted warehouse in the central Melbourne suburb of Abbotsford, but the distinct ‘eau de log cabin’ (it smells like I’ve just walked into Christmas) and the abundance of timber hints at an altogether more rural location. It is the furthest thing from golf I can imagine. The lumberjack equivalent of a batting cage, Maniax is Melbourne’s newest answer to team building/ letting off steam/working out/socialising/enjoying some good clean fun. Groups of up to 15 (‘the more the merrier’ is the company’s mantra) make themselves at home in the rather roomy cages, hemmed in on either side with wire mesh and housing two wood target boards – which we’re to aim at with our axes. “You get a lot of ‘WTF?!’ when you mention it,” says Stephen Thomas, laughing. He co-founded the Melbourne venue in March, following on from the Sydney arm, which opened in late 2015. Stephen (who also works

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