Thousands of people lined Kiama’s main streets to catch a glimpse of the Queen’s Baton Relay on Monday.
Kiama played host to the relay as it made its way around Australia ahead of the XXI Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April.
A number of local identities were chosen to carry the baton including; Colin Rathbone, David Leigh, Heather McAlpine, Kathleen Tanner, Lloyd Ferguson, Nick McInerney, Don Hodgekiss, Donald Brown, John Chaplin, Commonwealth Games athlete Karen Murphy, Kim Lacey, Nayeli Gajardo, Paul Houghton and champion surfer Sally Fitzgibbons.
The Queen’s Baton arrived in town at 1pm, and made its way down Terralong Street to deafening cheers and applause from the huge crowd, before it was carried to the iconic Kiama Blowhole and Lighthouse.
Sally Fitzgibbons carried the baton onto the Kiama Showground, where she was met by more than 2,500 local primary school students who welcomed their local hero.
“It was brilliant, I am so honoured and humbled to be part of this in front of my hometown, the community really turned out and that’s what it’s all about,” Fitzgibbons said.
“It’s a celebration of unity, sport and passion. I will never forget it, everyone had their flags and really got into it, so I’m stoked.”
The relay was followed by a community celebration, which included a parade of Commonwealth flags, welcome to country and live music.
Baton bearer and four-time Commonwealth Games bowler Karen Murphy was cheered on by family and friends.
“I’m really, really proud and honoured to be in my local area, the turnout was fantastic, the kids made it today, they really set the scene,” Murphy said.
“I hope the community enjoyed it as much as we did. It was awesome, I didn’t really get a chance to have a look at the baton too much, I was trying to acknowledge the crowd and make sure I didn’t drop it, but it was really, really cool.”
Murphy said her preparation was on target heading into the Games.
“It’s going great, preparations are going really well,” she said.
“We are in camp this week, it’s going to be good fun. We play Malaysia this week and it’s all going really well.”
The baton then departed Kiama aboard a Seahawk Romeo Naval helicopter, from 816 Squadron bound for Nowra, accompanied by HMAS Albatross Commanding Officer Fiona Sneath.