“Welcome to the oldest living culture on earth”- with this begins the Opening Ceremony of the 21st Commonwealth Games. It focuses on the changes in the earth over 65 million years. As the land masses separate and the oceans grow we see our first mention of the Gold Coast icon, Migaloo, the white whale.
The island is spotlighted musically by My Island Home with William Barton, one of Australia’s finest traditional didgeridoo players, Thursday Island hip-hop artist Mau Power and 18-year old Cairns-born pop star Christine Anu.
Under the Australian flag and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags, the Parade of Nations starts with Scotland. As the host nation of the last Games they had the honour. The teams enter by region and in alphabetical order. Each team is led in by a Nipper carrying a rescue board decorated to ‘announce’ the name of the nation or territory they are leading.
The Indian contingent is led by ace Badminton player, PV Sindhu. The nation have a strong 215 contingent. The Indian athletes hope to better their Glasgow 2014 performance where they won 64 medals.
The occasion is graced by Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. On the centre stage, there are Louise Martin CBE, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), Peter Beattie AC, the Chairman of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee and Sam Coffa, President of Commonwealth Games Australia.
The presence of Yugambeh Elders, one of the oldest Aboriginals of Australia, is another highlight of the event. They were represented by Patricia O’Connor and Ted Williams. Ted Williams introduced the Welcome to Country, the customary way to begin an event or gathering.
The Queen’s Baton enters the stadium and Susie O’ Neil, Australian swimming legend, cyclist Brad McGee, paralympic legend Kurt Fearnley, netballer Liz Ellis, hockey star Brent Livermore and finally Olympic and dual Commonwealth Games gold medalist Sally Pearson circle the stadium to hand it over to Prince Charles. The Prince reads aloud the Queen’s message hidden in the Baton and then officially announces the Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast open.