Wednesday 23 April 2008
Canberra was Australia’s only stop-off for the Olympic Flame. The Flame Plane, a custom-fitted Airbus A330, emblazoned with the phoenix graphics of the Torch Relay made an impressive scene as it touched down at Canberra’s Fairbairn Airport at approximately 7.50am.
The Flame was carried off the aircraft along a red carpet by Chinese Olympic official Mr Xiaoyu Jiang who held the flame in a lantern and presented it to local Ngunnawal elder, Aunty Agnes Shea. In exchange, Ms Shea presented the Chinese delegation with a traditional Aboriginal message stick. A 'welcome to country' ceremony was performed before the Olympic Flame made the journey from the airport to Canberra's city centre.
The Olympic Torch ignites Canberra’s night sky
The Canberra night sky was a blaze of colour as fireworks were ignited from three of the city’s highest peaks. Red Hill, Black Mountain and Mount Ainslie were launching pads for this dazzling display of sound and colour on the Relay Eve. The Chinese are credited with the invention of fireworks over 2000 years ago, and they remain an integral aspect of their celebrations. It is fitting that a firework display marked the arrival of the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay in Canberra.
Thursday 24 April 2008
Samsung Canberra Community Choir
'I Still Call Australia Home' and 'Waltzing Matilda' are some of the iconic Australian songs that the Samsung Canberra Community Choir performed during the Olympic Torch Relay celebrations.
Led by choirmaster Ken Teoh, the choir consisted of 500 of the city’s finest voices, making it the biggest choral group ever assembled in Canberra. Members of some of Canberra’s most established choirs, including the ABC Community Choir, Gospel Folk, Canberra Men’s Choir and Canberra Children’s Choir joined the group. Two choir performances took place during the celebrations. Their first appearance was at the Olympic Torch Lighting Ceremony at Reconciliation Place and they also sang the finale concert at Stage 88. Singers of all ages and backgrounds came together to perform a truly unique Australian medley composed especially for the Olympic Torch Relay in Canberra.
A mass of hot air balloons ascended into the sky to create a spectacular backdrop to the early morning Torch Relay celebrations. The aerial balloon display was part of the 2008 National Autumn Balloon Spectacular which was held over nine days from 17 - 19 April. The balloons took flight from Old Parliament House at 6.30am. Daily events during the Balloon spectacular were complemented by entertainment, activities, and food concessions.
Pre-dawn fireworks heralded a free community breakfast at Reconciliation Place.
Official Lighting Ceremony
The official Torch Lighting Ceremony commenced at Reconciliation Place, along the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. Tania Major, awarded the 2007 Australian of the Year, had the honour of lighting the Olympic Torch at the official Lighting Ceremony as well as being the first runner in the relay.
Torchbearers & the torch
The Canberra leg of the Torch Relay showcased the national capital, passing many national icons, including the Australian War Memorial and Parliament House. Spectators lined the streets to be a part of the Olympic experience, cheer on the torchbearers and enjoy the celebrations featuring Chinese cultural performances and Australian entertainers.
Stage 88 in Commonwealth Park hosted a celebration which marked the end of the only Australian leg of the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay.
Swimming legend and fire-times gold medallist, Ian Thorpe, had the honour of lighting the Olympic cauldron to the overture of drummers from the ANU Percussion Group.
Rock legends Shannon Noll, Brian Cadd and Russell Morris were among some of the prominent performers’ farewelling the Olympic flame as it left Canberra for Nagano, Japan on its way to Beijing and the Olympic Games.