The Melbourne skyline erupted in a blaze of fireworks as the city celebrated the groundbreaking Opening Ceremony to mark the start of the Commonwealth Games.
The Opening Ceremony began with a spectacular light show.
Approximately 80,000 people filled the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) to watch the ceremony and hear Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, declare the Games open.
Dignitaries, including Prime Minister John Howard, Victorian Premier Steve Bracks, and Prince Edward were welcomed to the event, before the arrival in a black Rolls Royce of the guest of honour, Queen Elizabeth II accompanied by Prince Philip.
The ceremony included traditional flag raising and singing of the Australian nation anthem, as well as a surprise rendition of 'Happy Birthday' by opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa for the Queen who celebrates her 80th birthday in April.
The ceremony began with a flying tram descending from the top of the MCG and landing in the centre of a massive circular white stage and unloading hundreds of singing and dancing performers dressed as ordinary Melburnians.
The show featured a little boy and his toy duck on a magical journey through a dreamlike version of Melbourne featuring acrobatic multi-sized koalas, giant winged creatures and dancing children.
Indigenous culture was also highlighted with a group of Victorian community elders and traditional owners draped in possum skin coats.
For the first time in the history of the Games, the athletes entered the stadium by regions of the Commonwealth.
The Queen's Baton made its way along the Yarra River into the MCG where it was carried by former Olympians Cathy Freeman, Ron Clarke, Marjorie Jackson-Nelson, and John Landy who presented it to the Queen
The ceremony concluded with the performance by singer Delta Goodrem of a new song written for the games entitled 'Together We Are One'
The Opening Ceremony was watched by more than 100,000 people along banks of the Yarra and in Live Sites. An estimated 1.5 billion people worldwide also tuned in to the start of the event.
What the press said
16 Mar 06 07:36
Spectacular, glittering, surreal, elaborate and extravaganza are words used by the international media to describe the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.
Baton's journey almost over
After making its way through the Athlete's Village, the Queen's Baton's epic journey has almost come to an end at a street party to celebrate its arrival in Melbourne.
Redefining the Opening Ceremony
The Creative Director of the Games Opening Ceremony, Andrew Walsh, has lifted the lid on some of what the public is to expect at Wednesday night's spectacular.
Photo GalleriesThe Baton Arrives
15 March 2006