Yarrawonga became part of Commonwealth Games history last Thursday when the Queen’s Baton Relay came to town. As the Queen’s Baton was carried through the streets of Yarrawonga, spectators walked and cheered alongside the 19 local baton bearers including popular school teacher Michael Price pictured with his mother Mary who made the special trip from Doncaster to see her son run.
The cheers echoed throughout the town as the relay rolled down Belmore Street, Piper St Woods Rd and then onto the Lake Mulwala foreshore where the noise peaked when the final baton bearer, Nicholas Megarrity placed the Queen’s Baton back in its secure case. It brought back memories for many locals who also witnessed the Olympic Torch Relay come to town as part of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
The Queen’s Baton Relay celebrations culminated at the Yarrawonga foreshore with local baton bearer and Gold Coast Commonwealth Games representative, James Willett speaking to the large crowd.
“Today’s been incredible and it’s great to see the community of Yarrawonga getting behind me and the other baton bearers,” James said.
“The relay is a great event to be part of leading up to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, where I hope everyone will come along to watch or tune in to see me compete in the men’s double trap shooting,” he said.
O&M Hall of Fame Netballer Tracy Gillies, who was the fifth baton bearer in the relay said it was fantastic to be involved in such a spectacle and a once in a lifetime experience.
“It was really special to be recognised for something that you just love doing anyway and to have people that you know in your local community out there supporting you was a really nice feeling,” Tracy said.
“It was great to see the school kids and elderly people along the street as well as some people who probably need a bit of a boost in their lives, that was lovely as well.
“It’s great for our town to have it come through here as it really is special.
“I wasn’t nervous until I got onto the bus and saw all the people and started thinking about how special the whole thing was.”
Sacred Heart Primary school teacher Michael Price who carried the baton through the school campus said he was a little nervous in the lead up but having the students excited and involved made it even more worthwhile.
“It was great for the kids to have the experience of it and the Commonwealth Games will mean something more to them now,” Michael said.
“It was also nice to have family come up and have friends around but the people on the bus, the quality and calibre of those people was extraordinary and some of their experiences make you feel very humble and realise what sort of quality we have of people around us.
“Australians’ love sport so the Commonwealth Games is great and to have it in our own backyard just makes it that much better, it’s fantastic.”
Yarrawonga College 9-12 campus Principal Jo McCarthy said the experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity so she is going to hold it dear to her heart.
“We’ll never get to do this experience again so it was really special and great fun, and it was great to have family and friends involved too,” Jo said.
“I didn’t really get nervous in the lead up, it was too busy with our everyday lives and the general lead up and organisation of the day but it was definitely a fantastic day.”
Nicholas Megarrity who completed the relay and carried the baton into the community celebrations at the Yarrawonga foreshore said he was honoured to be the last to carry it through Yarrawonga and loved every minute of the experience.
“It was grouse, I loved it,” Nicholas said.
“Getting out of the bus, especially the last one was fairly nerve-wracking and it was a bit nerve-wracking at the start getting the baton but it was pretty cool seeing everyone as well.
“It’s great that this general area was able to host a relay and it was an honour to be involved.”