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The BBC's Michael Peschardt
"An event all about symbolism"
 real 28k

Thursday, 8 June, 2000, 07:30 GMT 08:30 UK
Olympic torch starts final journey
uluru
Uluru is left behind as the trek to Sydney starts
By Michael Peschardt at Uluru

The Olympic torch has arrived in Australia, signalling the 100-day countdown to the Sydney Games.

The flame arrived just after sunrise at Uluru, formerly Ayers Rock, in the heart of the Kata Tjuta National Park in central Australia.

It was handed first to the traditional owners of Ayers Rock, now known again by its Aboriginal name, Uluru.


kneebone
Nova Peris Kneebone: First runner to take the flame
Omen or not, the flame flickered and died in the blustery wind and had to be relit by the mother-flame, which is always carried as back-up.

The first runner was the first Aboriginal woman to win an Olympic gold medal.

Nova Peris Kneebone said she hoped this was a new day for all Australians, black and white.

The whole ceremony took place against a background in which some Aboriginal leaders are calling for demonstrations during the Games to protest at the treatment of Australia's indigenous people.

Some may still demonstrate, but the arrival of the flame at least brought with it a symbolic acknowledgement of Australia's first inhabitants - something that has not happened often enough.

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See also:

28 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Olympic flame to light up Barrier Reef
02 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Aborigines target Olympics
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