Queen’s Baton Relay for Gold Coast Commonwealth Games illuminates Bendigo

HAPPY TIMES: Baton bearer Dennis O'Hoy salutes the crowd on Pall Mall from the historic tram. Picture: DARREN HOWE
HAPPY TIMES: Baton bearer Dennis O'Hoy salutes the crowd on Pall Mall from the historic tram. Picture: DARREN HOWE

Another 190 fingerprints were added to a macadamia wood, stainless steel baton headed to the Gold Coast, Bendigo’s hand print forever etched into Australian sporting history. 

All the furore surrounding road closures for the Queen’s Baton Relay that passed through the city was momentarily forgotten – by those involved in the relay convoy at least – for an hour or so on a blustery Wednesday morning.

The different bearing styles adopted by the 19 chosen to hold the famous baton entertained a modest crowd dotted along the city streets.

One woman precariously wafted the baton from side to side, akin to an aircraft marshall guiding in an Airbus A380.

Others grasped the baton firmly with both hands, perhaps fearful of dropping the futuristic-looking wand, its design inspired by Australia’s, and indeed Queensland’s, Indigenous heritage.

An endless row of smart phones greeted the main part of the relay as it began on a tram down Pall Mall, the camera shutter sound effect perhaps more audible at times than the clapping and cheering.

HOLD TIGHT: The baton was first introduced to Bendigo at Camp Hill primary school. Picture: DARREN HOWE

HOLD TIGHT: The baton was first introduced to Bendigo at Camp Hill primary school. Picture: DARREN HOWE

Families and friends greeted baton bearers during the handover – a touching, and for some emotional, moment for those who have contributed so much to the Bendigo community over the years.

For one of the organisers, who has traversed countless places with the baton convoy, Bendigo’s unique tram offered a moment of blissful confusion.

“I’m not sure how that’s going to work,” she said.

It worked just fine in the end, with Dennis O'Hoy saluting the crowd as he leaned out of a historic tram.

The baton travelled – via 19 bearers flanked by eight police officers – from near the Queen Elizabeth Oval down View Street, then along Pall Mall to Chapel Street and make a loop through Hargreaves, Williamson and Myers Streets, before heading out along Napier Street to Lake Weeroona.

WHAT'S THIS: The baton, made from macadamia wood, has a futuristic appearance. Picture: NONI HYETT

WHAT'S THIS: The baton, made from macadamia wood, has a futuristic appearance. Picture: NONI HYETT

Seventeen people will also carry the baton in Echuca on Thursday and another 22 have been chosen to participate in the relay when it reaches Kerang and Murrabit on February 16 before heading to South Australia over the weekend.

The Queen’s Baton Relay started on Commonwealth Day, March 13, 2017, at Buckingham Palace, London.

Since then it has been passed between thousands of people across Africa, the Caribbean, the Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceania.

It will arrive on the Gold Coast for the XXI Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony on April 4.

In Australia, the Queen’s Baton will traverse 40,000 kilometres, with about 3800 baton bearers while in Victoria, more than 440 people will carry it, wave it, salute with it, and enjoy its company.