Commonwealth Games' opening ceremony celebrates Australia's Indigenous culture

There was a nod to the conventional worldwide image of Australia: golden beaches, surfboards, emus and kangaroos....

Posted: Apr 4, 2018 3:05 PM
Updated: Apr 4, 2018 3:05 PM

There was a nod to the conventional worldwide image of Australia: golden beaches, surfboards, emus and kangaroos.

Yet the abiding memory of the opening ceremony of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, a multi-sport event which is regarded by some as an enduring reminder of British imperialism, will be the celebration of Australia's Indigenous population's role in the country's history.

Britain's Prince Charles opened Gold Coast 2018 on behalf of his mother Queen Elizabeth II, head of the Commonwealth of countries and territories which once formed part of the British Empire.

But the two-and-a-half-hour spectacle at the Carrara Stadium, broadcast to an expected global audience of a billion people, was a reminder that the host nation's past did not begin some 200 years ago with colonial rule.

Charles removed the message from the Queen's Baton Relay, which has covered a distance of 230,000 kilometers over the course of 388 days, and then read out the Queen's recognition of Australia's rich history.

"The ancient stories told by the Indigenous people of Australia remind us that though we may be half a world away we are connected," he read.

READ: A guide to the Commonwealth Games

Aboriginal protests

Hours before the ceremony began, the Queen's baton relay was delayed by Indigenous activists holding a sit-in. They held aloft Australian Aboriginal flags and signs reading "Not the Queen's Land."

Australia's Indigenous population is composed of mainland Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders, who live in northern Queensland on the islands between Australia and Papua New Guinea.

But on basic standards of living -- from health, to education, to employment -- Australia's Indigenous population is being left far behind.

Flanked by a significant police presence, protestors were also present outside the Carrara Stadium before the Games officially got underway.

Large protests marred the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006, the last time the country hosted a sporting event on this scale, but the discord of 12 years ago has not yet been matched on the Gold Coast.

And whether the representation of Australia's Indigenous past in such a global ceremony will help soothe the anger of those who believe an important part of the country's history is being overlooked is a moot point.

READ: Aussie sister act bidding to be golden girls on the Gold Coast

Flags flying in unison

The ceremony began with cameras focusing on an Aboriginal family in the crowd. They were the relatives of Delvene Cockatoo-Collins, the man who designed the medals for these Games.

The artist's 11-year-old niece, Isabella Graham, made visible a message on her smartphone which read "welcome to the oldest living culture on earth" -- Australia's First Nations peoples is one of the longest living civilizations on earth.

She then activated a digital countdown from 65,000, a reference to the number of years the history of Australia's Indigenous population spans.

Heavy rain for a 10-minute period at the start lessened the impact of a blue dome of pyrotechnics which represented the planet, but the brief downpour did not dampen the mood.

There was a live segment from Surfers Paradise, the famous beach area in this part of eastern Australia, and the acclaimed William Barton played the didgeridoo.

Mau Power, the first rapper from the Torres Strait to break into the Australian music scene, performed, as did Queensland-born singer Christine Anu and pop star Delta Goodrem.

Alongside the Australian flag flew the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags and as the ceremony came to its conclusion Luther Cora, a contemporary Aboriginal artist, and his family conducted a traditional smoking ceremony.

It is a custom still widely practiced among many Indigenous Australians and involves the burning of various native plants to cleanse in the smoke and connect with good spirits.

READ: NZ'S Bond switches strokes for spokes

An uncertain Royal future

The Commonwealth is a larger entity now than it was at the Queen's coronation in 1953.

On her accession to the throne, she also became head of state in seven of the Commonwealth's eight members. Today she is head of state of 15 realms among 53 members, all but two of which -- Mozambique and Rwanda -- are countries and territories which formed part of the British Empire.

But the Royal visit Down Under has come at a time when support for the monarchy, according to the Sunday Times, has fallen to an all-time low in the country, with a recent poll putting support at retaining the British sovereign as head of state at 22%.

Last July, Labor leader Bill Shorten said the party would hold a referendum by the end of his first term, should he win the next election, on whether Australia should become a republic.

READ: Queen Elizabeth's 'secret message in a bottle'

'Friendly Games'

If the Australia's constitutional future is unclear, so to arguably is the fate of an event which is in its ninth decade.

Many of the participants in a competition often referred to as the "Friendly Games" are not Olympic all-stars, though there are significant figures competing over the next 11 days -- Olympic champions Adam Peaty and Alistair Brownlee, former Olympic swimming gold medalist Chad Le Clos and track and field stars Caster Semenya and Valarie Adams, to name a few.

In this sport-obsessed country hosting the Games for a fifth time and eager to forget about the national cricket team's ball-tampering scandal, this sporting festival should prove a welcome distraction.

More than 4,500 athletes from 71 nations will compete for 275 gold medals.

Never before at a major multi-sport event have there been the same number of men's and women's medal events, while Gold Coast 2018 also has the largest program of disability sport in the competition's history.

History has been celebrated and it has already been made. Let the Games begin.

West Lafayette
Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 73°
Kokomo
Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 70°
Rensselaer
Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 72°
Fowler
Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 73°
Williamsport
Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 73°
Crawfordsville
Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 72°
Frankfort
Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 72°
Delphi
Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 73°
Monticello
Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 73°
Logansport
Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 70°
Some more needed rainfall with real taste of Fall weather...
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 926604

Reported Deaths: 15083
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1262201958
Lake626901087
Allen52772747
Hamilton43283445
St. Joseph41475584
Elkhart33129488
Vanderburgh29927439
Tippecanoe26589247
Johnson23267415
Hendricks21902340
Porter21473341
Clark17150224
Madison17065379
Vigo15815273
Monroe14298190
LaPorte14108237
Delaware13771219
Howard13635262
Kosciusko11232134
Hancock10637160
Warrick10523176
Bartholomew10341167
Floyd10200202
Wayne9690218
Grant8939196
Morgan8734158
Boone8299109
Dubois7596123
Henry7469128
Dearborn745187
Noble7294101
Marshall7237128
Cass7097117
Lawrence6862150
Shelby6457107
Jackson643981
Gibson6036106
Harrison595585
Huntington591891
Montgomery5706102
DeKalb563591
Knox537599
Miami531983
Clinton527164
Putnam525367
Whitley516251
Steuben486367
Wabash477492
Jasper471961
Jefferson461991
Ripley444175
Adams439365
Daviess4064106
Scott394963
White386257
Clay382356
Greene380189
Wells379683
Decatur379595
Fayette367176
Posey354941
Jennings346356
Washington325847
LaGrange315774
Spencer313034
Fountain309753
Randolph305487
Sullivan299447
Owen279161
Starke272761
Orange272659
Fulton268851
Jay250634
Perry247451
Carroll241127
Franklin233637
Vermillion229750
Rush228930
Parke215220
Tipton206754
Pike202538
Blackford165634
Pulaski158751
Crawford142818
Newton140742
Benton139816
Brown132646
Martin126916
Switzerland123510
Warren113416
Union93511
Ohio77211
Unassigned0468

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events