Ararat hosts Baton Relay

After more than two years of planning, the Queen’s Baton Relay visited Ararat much to the delight of onlookers on Tuesday.

Crowds gathered down Barkly Street and High Street as the baton was carried by 17 batonbearers including Ararat’s Chloe Dunmore and Karen Brennan.

The 40-minute relay started shortly before 4.50pm and covered about 3.5km along Barkly Street, Albert Street, High Street and Vincent Street before going through Alexandra Gardens to the finish point at the Ararat Community Centre.

Crowds soaked in the moment, along with the batonbearers before it eventually made its way to Alexandra Gardens where Olympian and Commonwealth Games dual Gold Medallist Shane Kelly took the baton the last little stretch across Alexandra Oval.

The weather was near-perfect, as children followed the relay on their bikes while others were more focused on capturing some keepsake photos with loved ones who were carrying the baton, some from more than 250km away.

Three batonbearers came from Mt Gambier with Ararat the closest the Baton will get to south eastern South Australia.

The baton and crew stayed overnight in Ararat before leaving for Bendigo on Wednesday morning.

Relay communications and marketing manager Trish Quayle said the relay was a special moment for the community to share together.

“Thanks to the Ararat community, we have spent a couple of days in the big smoke through Melbourne and it is a really good feeling to be back out in the regional centres like here in Ararat,” she said.

“It is a really special moment to have the Queen’s baton here with you today.”

The relay started on March 13 2017 at Buckingham Palace with the Queen putting a message into the baton that will be read out at the opening ceremony on April 4.

The baton has passed through 70 countries in the commonwealth and Tuesday marked the half way point of its 100-day Australian journey, visiting every state and territory.

The baton will enter the Gold Coast’s Carrara Stadium during the opening ceremony and be handed to Prince Charles, who will read out the message on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II, which will declare the games open at its conclusion.

It is not the only experience Ararat has had with a Queen’s Baton Relay.

The Queen’s Baton Relay also passed through the region on its journey to Melbourne for the 2006 games, with the community’s experience and efficiency hosting the event playing a part in being selected for the Gold Coast relay.

The relay will continue along its journey through Victoria until Sunday before going west to South Australia.