January 24, 2006 – The Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton today arrived in Australia, signalling the final leg of its epic journey to the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.
Arriving aboard Qantas flight (QF164 –M2006 “Karak” Aircraft) from Auckland, New Zealand, the baton touched down at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport at 10.20am.
The revolutionary Queen’s Baton, was escorted from Auckland by The Hon Trevor Mallard, New Zealand’s Federal Minister for Sport and Recreation, and 14 Year old New Zealander, Sophie Healey. The baton was then passed to 13 Year old Australian, Carly Rodger in a gesture of friendship between nations. Sophie Healey, accompanied by Mr Mallard and Carly Rodger then presented the baton to Hon. John Howard MP, Prime Minister of Australia in the presence of Hon Steve Bracks MP, Premier of Victoria, Hon Morris Iemma MP, Premier of New South Wales, and Chairman of Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Corporation, Ronald J Walker. The Prime Minister paid tribute to the 50,000 relay runners who carried the baton across 70 Commonwealth nations and territories to bring it to Australia.
He also thanked the Commonwealth Games Federation for its support in organising the journey of the baton as it carried its message of goodwill to all seven regions of the Commonwealth.
Throughout its journey, the Queen’s Baton has united people from across the Commonwealth in a spirit of cooperation and celebration. The baton will no doubt create similar excitement and interest as it tours the country in the lead up to the Games.
Mr Iemma said his State was privileged to host the Queen’s Baton Relay on the first stage of its final Australian leg.
“The baton will be an honoured guest at several of the Australia Day ceremonies taking place throughout the City of Sydney in two days time,” he said.
Mr Bracks said the baton’s journey would focus Australians on the biggest sporting and cultural event Victoria had ever hosted.
“The momentum and excitement will build as local heroes across Australia inch the Queen’s message ever closer to the redeveloped MCG on opening ceremony night,” Mr Bracks said.
“By March 15 the entire nation will be ready to celebrate the Games.”
Chairman of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Corporation Ronald J Walker said the baton’s arrival in Australia was a proud moment for the whole country.
“To have been able to take the Queen’s Baton carrying her message to the athletes to all 71 countries of the Commonwealth has been a tremendous achievement and a world first,” Mr Walker said. The Australian route for the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay involves a 50 day, 21,500km itinerary, visiting every state, territory and capital city and directly touching over 500 communities.
Mr Donald McGauchie, Chairman, Telstra Corporation, said as Presenting Partner Telstra was delighted to play a part in the Community Runner Program and help celebrate the achievements of local communities throughout Australia.
“The response to the Community Runner Program was magnificent and attracted more than 15,600 nominations — more than four times the nominations received for the Manchester Games in 2002. The Community Runner Program has provided Australians with the unique opportunity to take part in this traditional symbol of unity and diversity.
“On behalf of Telstra, I congratulate each of the more than 2150 community representatives chosen to carry the baton. The runners’ selection is a tribute to their achievements and contributions to their community,” said Mr McGauchie.
The Queen’s Baton Relay will commence its final journey to the games tomorrow morning (Wednesday 25 January) leaving from Penrith Regatta Centre at 7.29am, travelling throughout the western and south western suburbs of Sydney before attending a special local ceremony and celebration at the Parramatta Park Amphitheatre at 5.30pm.
On Australia Day, Thursday 26 January, the baton will attend various community functions in Sydney City playing its part in many of the exciting Australia Day activities being planned.
The Queen’s Baton Relay commences its journey north along the coast of NSW on Friday, leaving Sydney at 6.20am and convoying to Woy Woy before continuing its journey to Newcastle, where the final runner will arrive at community celebrations at 5.30pm
The Melbourne 2006 Queen’s Baton displays Australian design excellence and innovation at its very best, bringing the Baton Relay tradition into the 21st century.
Designed and produced by the Melbourne based firm Charlwood Design, among its features are: ? a global positioning system (GPS) ? two “˜baton cam’ cameras and a microphone ? a state of the art lighting system revealing 71 lights representing the 71 countries of the commonwealth ? interactive web-based features allowing people around the world to follow its path.
The elegant curved form of the baton represents the physical form of athletes arching forward striving for success.
Prior to its arrival in Sydney today, the Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton has already been carried by more than 50,000 people and travelled more than 160,000 kilometres across 70 countries in every continent and over every ocean.
Upon arriving at the opening ceremony of the XVIII Commonwealth Games in Melbourne on 15 March, Her Majesty’s message, contained within the baton, will be read out — signalling the commencement of the Games.
The Melbourne 2006 Queen’s Baton Relay is a joint initiative of Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Corporation in partnership with the Australian Government (Funding Partner), Tourism Australia and the Commonwealth Games Federation. The Australian relay leg is proudly presented by Telstra (Presenting Partner) and sponsored by National, Qantas and Cadbury Schweppes. The Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games is hosted by the Victorian Government.
For further information about the baton and to follow its progress around Australia, visit www.melbourne2006.com.au