UNSUNG community heroes had their chance to shine on a special mission, carrying the Queen’s Baton through Ballarat.
The baton relay is taking Queen Elizabeth’s message to athletes from Buckingham Place across the world and all the way to the Commonwealth Games.
But this relay stanza was all about celebrating Ballarat and some of the people who make this city so special.
Starting under the Eureka Flag at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka, young Anzac ambassador Alyssa Britnall started the journey of 28 batonbearers all the way to View Point at Lake Wendouree where Commonwealth Games chef de mission and hometown hero Steve Moneghetti made the final change to Ballarat Mayor Samantha McIntosh.
There was dancing: community all-rounders Monique Ford and Bayden Mellington linked arms and skipped their way through a changeover.
(Batonbearers) are humble, they’re modest, but you can tell on the inside they’re really excited and to share that with so many people. That’s what the baton does.Commonwealth Games chef de mission Steve Moneghetti
There was a touch of history: marathon man Richard Tann took a Sovereign Hill horse-drawn carriage down Victoria Street. Even Ballarat mayor Samantha McIntosh ran barefoot on grass curbs nearby to cheer Tann.
And there were scores of school children lining major streets to cheer batonbearers on their way.
Moneghetti, a Commonwealth Games marathon gold medallist, said running had been his life but the Games gave him his start and a career he loves.
For Moneghetti, it was particularly special to bring the baton into his hometown because of what it means to so many people and for promoting community spirit.
“When you’re on the bus together, you’re seeing a lot of people who are pretty emotional about it who have done so much good work in the community. They’re humble, they’re modest, but you can tell on the inside they’re really excited and to share that with so many people,” Moneghetti said.
“That’s what the baton does.”
Olympian Jared Tallent breezed through crowds lining the Bridge Mall. Camperdown athletics stalwart Ross McIlveen was rapt to pass the baton to the race walker.
International para-table tennis player Rory Carroll lapped up “go Rory” chants as he ran through Pleasant Street primary.
”I high-fived all the kids out there. It was an amazing experience, I won’t ever forget it,” Carroll said. “It’s just wonderful it’s come here.”