• Yugambeh elder Ted Williams speaks at the Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton relay launch, alongside fellow elder Patricia O'Connor. (Supplied - GOLDOC)
Two Yugambeh elders were front and centre at the launch of the Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton relay at Buckingham Palace.
By
Ella Archibald-Binge

Source:
NITV News
14 Mar 2017 - 3:17 PM  UPDATED 14 Mar 2017 - 3:17 PM

The ceremony on Monday saw the Queen place her message to the Commonwealth inside the baton, sending it on a 388 day journey over 230,000 kilometres, before arriving at the Gold Coast in April 2018. 

It was the first time traditional owners have attended the ceremony, welcoming other First Nations peoples to celebrate the games on their land. 

"Our Commonwealth has many First Nations people, and as traditional custodians of the Yugambeh land on which the next games will be held, we extend an invitation to all other First Nations people... to join us in a 21st century style celebration of the Commonwealth Games," said Yugambeh elder Ted Williams, who spoke at the ceremony alongside fellow elder Patricia O'Connor. 

"These games will afford a celebration of sport, in tandem with a celebration of the wonderfully diverse cultures that reside within our Commonwealth for both the enjoyment and the betterment of all."

Speaking to NITV before the trip, Mr Williams said the gesture was a positive step towards reconciliation. 

"Having two Indigenous people on the stage with the Queen to set the baton off on its way it to my mind a very good way of proving their willingness to be truthful about reconciliation," he said. 

Commonwealth Games champion Anna Meares was the first to receive the baton from the Queen, before it left the palace in a Kombi van, in a nod to its final destination on the Gold Coast.

The design of the baton itself, made in part with macadamia wood, was inspired by a story told by Yugambeh elder Patricia O'Connor. 

Macadamia nuts were often planted by groups travelling through country, to mark the way and provide sustenance to future generations. 

"When I was a little girl, probably seven or eight years old, I was cracking Queensland nuts," 88-year-old Patricia O'Connor told NITV.

"My grandmother said 'when I was a little girl I planted those nuts as I walked with my father along the Nerang river' and she said 'you call them Queensland nuts, I call them Goomburra'.

"She planted them when she walked with her dad, and as an adult she saw them bearing fruit."

Upon hearing the story, the baton's designers decided to use macadamia wood as a symbol of traditional sustainable practice.

"I was very proud, rather surprised to see the story there," Ms O'Connor told NITV.

"It means that the story is passed on to the generations that wouldn’t have heard it otherwise."

The baton begins its Australian journey on December 25. The Commonwealth Games Corporation is calling on Australians to nominate someone from their community to become a baton-bearer.

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Elder's first overseas trip takes her to Buckingham Palace ceremony
Soon 88-year-old Yugambeh elder Patricia O'Connor will board her first overseas flight, bound for the Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton Relay launch at Buckingham Palace.