Olympic Torch Arrives In Australia

Wed. June 7, 2000 12:00 AM by Business Wire

Los Angeles, CA - Today, the blazing Olympic Torch will arrive at Ayers Rock in Australia to embark on the longest, most varied and spectacular journey in Olympic history.

For the next 100 days the Olympic Torch will trek through the most amazing landscapes in Australia - and the world. It will travel in more interesting and diverse areas and on more bizarre modes of transport than any torch ever before on the longest Olympic Torch Relay to date.

Starting today, Olympic fans can log on to www.nbcolympics.com for on-line coverage of the Torch Relay through Australia, and have an opportunity to qualify for a chance to win a trip for two to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games by entering the "Discover Australia" sweepstakes. The grand prize winner will receive round-trip airfare, a week of five-star accommodation in Sydney, tickets to the Opening Ceremony and to eight Olympic events.

The Olympic Torch will begin its journey in the spiritual Aboriginal lands of Australia's Red Centre. An airplane will fly it into in the middle of Australia's desert, where it will be to handed the first runner to bear the torch, Aboriginal Athlete and Olympic Gold Medallist, Nova Perris-Knee Bone. The torch will then circle the five and a half mile circumference of the great Ayres Rock (Uluru) before heading to Australia's most famous outback town, Alice Springs.

During its expedition, the flame will visit the Great Barrier Reef; head into the rainforest, see World Heritage National Parks and cross the great desert. It will climb mountains in the alpine snowfields as well as visit 1000 Aussie cities and towns. 10,000 torchbearers will carry the Olympic Torch on its 17,000-mile journey around Australia - a country as large as the United States.

When it reaches the Great Barrier Reef in Tropical North Queensland, the Olympic Torch will travel 10 feet beneath the sea in a design built container to swim with the coral and the tropical fish; the flame will travel on a surf boat at Sydney's celebrated Bondi Beach, on a Royal Flying Doctor Service aircraft in the remote Outback and by camel on Cable Beach at Broome. It will be carried in a hot air balloon, on horseback, on a Sydney Harbour ferry and on the Sky Rail over the rainforest at Cairns.

It will undertake two epic train journeys. One from Western Australia to South Australia and the other between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, which includes a leg on the longest straight stretch of railway in the world. The Indian Pacific which is the world's last true trans-continental train journey will take the torch 300 miles across the Nullarbor Plain, straight through the middle of Australia. The Torch will also traverse Bass Strait during a 150-mile ocean crossing from Victoria to Tasmania on a passenger ferry, before heading into some of the worlds greatest unspoilt natural wilderness on Australia's island state.

On its final leg, the Olympic Torch will head to Sydney Olympic Park for its appointment with destiny. It will ignite the Olympic Flame in the 110,000-seat Sydney Olympic Stadium on September 15, 2000, at the Opening of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

Ms Lyndel Gray, Regional Director, Australian Tourist Commission, The Americas, commented, "The Olympic torch is taking the ultimate excursion though Australia. It will highlight almost all of Australia's great offerings; outstanding natural beauty and landscapes as well as demonstrating our rural, urban and aboriginal culture."

"The greatest thing about the Relay is that it not only covers most of our great country but it also involves most Australian people during its journey. The Torch will pass within a one hour drive of 85 per cent of Australia's population. During the Torch's 100-day journey around Oz, some 188 communities will stage unique Australian celebrations - festivities anyone can share and enjoy."

"The Torch Relay is a great chance for all Australians to get involved and to be a part of the Olympic experience. For international visitors to Australia, the Olympic Torch Relay means activities and festivities wherever they may be in Australia. During the three months leading up to the Olympics in September, Australia will be really charged with excitement. It is a great chance for travellers to join with the Aussie locals in their Olympic celebrations," she said.

NBC and Quokka Sports will be providing on-line coverage of the Torch Relay and the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games on www.nbcolympics.com beginning 15 September 2000. The "Discover Australia" Sweepstakes, which runs until 14 July 2000, offers a fantastic chance to discover the excitement of going to the Olympic Games in one of the most desirable cities in the world, as well as, the opportunity to experience all the beauty and wonder of Australia.

For more information about the Olympic Torch Relay, consumers can visit the Australian Tourist Commission website at australia.com or call 1-800-333-0262 to receive an Australian vacation planning kit.

News, photos provided by Business Wire.