Four elders from the traditional owners Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung, Wadawurrung, Dja Dja Wurrung and Gunaikurnai will invite the Commonwealth Games to their Victorian lands in 2026.
In a first for the Commonwealth Games Federation, the elders will be part of the official hand over at the closing ceremony on Tuesday morning, where Birmingham will officially pass the baton to Victoria 2026.
The Elders from the lands on which Melbourne, Geelong and Ballarat, Bendigo and Gippsland will each present a carved message stick to Commonwealth Games Federation President, Dame Louise Martin.
WHAT TIME: THE SHOW STARTS AT 5:00AM AEST
The message stick is an invitation to walk on Country in 2026 when Victoria will stage the Commonwealth Games in regional areas from March 17-19, 2026.
Minister for Treaty and First Peoples Gabrielle Williams said: “First Peoples traditional and contemporary culture will be at the heart of our performance in the Handover Ceremony, just as they will be at the centre of the Commonwealth Games in Victoria 2026.”
The Victorian regional concept is a first for the Games, and a forerunner for a coalition of smaller countries and regions in the Pacific and Africa to bid for future Games.
Assisting the Elders will be Victorian singers, rap musician Baker Boy, whose real name is Danzal Baker, Vanessa Amorosi, and Geelong’s singer-songwriter Taylor Henderson.
Commonwealth Games Delivery Jacinta Allan said:“Victoria 2026 will be handed the baton and will be ready to invite athletes and spectators from around the world to experience everything our amazing regions have to offer during the Birmingham Closing Ceremony.’’
“We are proud that the immensely talented Baker Boy and the four Elders are playing such an important part in the Closing Ceremony in Birmingham.”
During the handover the Commonwealth Games flag will be handed to the Governor of Victoria, Linda Dessau.
The closing ceremony was helped by four young Victorians from regional TAFEs who worked in stage management, administration and event production during the rehearsals in Melbourne.
SPECIAL ROLE FOR VICTORIAN LAWN BOWLER
Victorian lawn bowler Barrie Lester has been given the honour of carrying out one of the key roles at the Closing Ceremony for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Australia’s most prolific medallist in lawn bowls, with four separate pieces of silverware bearing his name, including a silver in Birmingham – Lester will hand over the Commonwealth Games Federation flag to Victorian Governor Linda Dessau when it’s taken down in England’s West Midland on Tuesday morning.
As part of Commonwealth Games tradition, an athlete from the host-national always hands over the flag to an athlete from the next host country before it gets passed to officials.
Lester, who turned 40 in January this year, was chosen for the honour because of his outstanding record and his links with regional Victoria, where most of the 2026 Commonwealth Games will take place.
He was born at Bendigo Base Hospital across the road from what lawns bowls venue for 2026.
He has represented Australia at three Commonwealth Games – Melbourne 2006, Gold Coast 2018, Birmingham 2022 and won medals each time, bronze (2006), two silvers (2018) and another silver this time.
Lester had already left Birmingham and was on a European holiday when he received a phone call asking him to return to take part in the handover but had no hesitation.
“I was actually in Spain just having a fun time over there in the sun for a few days and then playing some golf and heading home,” he said.
“I got asked the other day ‘what does it mean to win a medal?’ And I said, ‘the colour of the medal is cosmetic.
“A medal is a symbol of the hard work and help that the other people who got you there and to be able to do this is another one of those (achievements).”