Garan Hale – 2023 Sunshine Coast Wootha Prize Furniture winner

In 2023 Garan Hale won First Prize in the Furniture category of the Sunshine Coast Wootha Prize for his stunning piece ‘Stella’. From the Northern Rivers in NSW, Garan tells us a little more about his journey into woodworking and what he has been up to since the 2023 Maleny Wood Expo.

How did you get into woodworking? 

From a young age I had an interest in woodworking which was inspired by my grandfather, who through necessity had to be inventive and resourceful during the depression years.

Furthermore my year 10 school work experience with Leon Sadubin and Les Miller greatly  inspired me into the world of fine woodwork. 

How did it feel to win the Furniture Award this year at the 2023 Maleny Wood Expo?

It was a surprise and an honour, as it was the first woodworking competition I have ever entered.  

It was also great to be associated with Barung Landcare for sharing a common ethos in caring for the amazing natural world we are all so fortunate to enjoy. 

It was also inspiring and exciting to share the world of wood with other enthusiasts. 

What have you been up to since you won the prize? 

Designer Woodworks is continuing to work on new furniture designs while refining our production techniques.  

Due to the popularity of the inlaid feathers in the dovetail stool from last year’s Wootha Prize, we are making feathers and leaf pendants and bookmarks, showcasing an extensive range of Australian timbers. These refined items make quality and beautiful keepsakes and collectables.

Along with this my apprentice Henry McErlean and I do architectural joinery and fine furniture commissions in Australian timbers as well as items for the monthly Bangalow market.

What advice would you like to offer to people thinking about entering the Sunshine Coast Wootha Prize?

I would encourage anybody interested in woodworking to give it a go. It’s not just about a competition but connecting with others and gathering inspiration from like-minded people.

How can people follow your work?


Facebook: Designer Woodworks

Instagram: @designer.woodworks


Mobile: 0438663622

About the piece

Stella is a three legged breakfast bar stool utilising laminated, carved, inlaid and turned components, made from River Oak, White Cedar, Tulip Oak, Blue Quandong and Red Cedar. The Red Cedar and Tulip Oak are recycled from old furniture and the rest are salvaged from wind fallen trees over many years.

The Sunshine Coast Wootha Prize ‘Furniture’ Prize category was sponsored by Queensland Water and Land Carers and Barung Landcare