Almost a year ago now, the doors opened on Lumber Punks, an axe throwing venue that provided a wholly unique activity for Gold Coast’s experience-hungry residents. Far from being yet another pop-up business to go nuts on Insta for three months then fade into obscurity, the Miami venue has proven it has legs, with owners Tyson McMillan and Sam Hay about to open their second venue in Brisbane. Rather belatedly, I decided to go and see what all the fuss was about.
The first thing I notice is that Lumber Punks looks exactly like what it is. Totally lacking in pretension, the wide open space is essentially wood covered from ceiling to floor. Its uber-friendly owners are casual and enthusiastic, immediately putting me at ease, and there are some awesome guitar-driven tunes rocking through the speakers. I read through the safety waiver, get my shoes checked, and then I’m off to a lane with Tyson to learn how to throw. I wish him luck with the lesson, given my notoriously dreadful hand-eye co-ordination.
“You’ll be surprised,” he says. Well, not at first frankly, as each small axe I am instructed to throw lands either with a thud on the floor, with its back to the target, or more usually at some point wildly to the right of it. Under normal circumstances I would be embarrassed by such a public display of incompetence, but Tyson is so positive and patient that I persevere. Finally, under his careful tutelage, I achieve some success with the small axes, and we move onto the much larger one, which is surprisingly a great deal easier to land. Throughout our session, Tyson chats about the business, the guys’ passion for what they do, and the growing trend of axe-throwing in Australia, occasionally interrupting himself to correct my stance and position.
“We’re all about building community here,” he tells me, which seems to me to have been the key to the guys’ success. Essentially eschewing the tourist market, Sam and Ty have worked hard to establish connections, leagues and a set of passionate regulars who form the backbone of their core customer base. Smart fellas. From what basically started as two ex-hospo dudes having business brainstorming sessions whilst chucking axes in their backyard, Lumber Punks has grown into a proud niche business that is expanding before their first year of operation is even up.
A fun, unusual and strangely meditative experience, axe throwing is all set to explode as a popular nationwide activity, with more venues springing up around the country as we speak. And believe me: If I can do it? Anyone can.
Check out lumberpunks.com for opening hours and bookings.
IMAGE (c) Dan Maynard Photography