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Media Kit (2005) - Karak and Community

Young girl with KarakKarak Official Mascot

Playful. Loud. Friendly. Energetic. Handsome. Cheeky. Endangered. That’s Karak, the South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo who is the Official Mascot
of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Quite a Karakter

Hailing from native woodlands in Victoria’s west, Karak is a free spirit who embodies the Australian way of life. He’s got a glint in his eye that suggests a bit of the Aussie larrikin. He’s a communal bird who takes to the air in flocks, and once up there he can be heard squawking in all corners of the countryside. Indeed, he was named ‘Karak’ for his distinctly Australian call.

But there’s more to this cockatoo than his resplendent black feathers and gregarious nature. He also embodies the ideals of the Commonwealth Games. As one of the most endangered birds in Australia, he represents the commitment Melbourne has made to running an environmentally friendly Games. And as a bird who loves his mates, he typifies the Games’ spirit of friendship every time he takes to the sky with other cockatoos.

The Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games offers a rare opportunity to tell people the story of the South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo. The Games will offer lasting legacies for future generations of Victorians and Australians, making a native animal in danger of extinction a natural choice for Mascot. While promoting the Games, Karak will also be informing people about how to help his species survive.

So what else do we know about Karak? Well, his favourite hobby is sport. His second favourite hobby is also sport. His third? You guessed it, sport. His favourite films are Travelling Birds and Flying High, and he boogies down to tunes like Shake Your Tail Feather and When Doves Cry. Surely that comes as no surprise.

But from now until the Games begin on 15 March 2006, Karak will be putting all his energies into one thing - getting everyone fired up for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. So keep your eye out. You’re likely to spot him travelling around Australia and the Commonwealth, spreading the word in his own high-flying way. Karak – the facts: The bird that inspired the choice of the Melbourne 2006 Mascot, the South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, is one of this country’s most endangered species. It is believed that only 1000 or so remain in the wild.

You’ll know the bird by its slate-black colouring, the vivid red striping on its tail and the majestic crown of feathers on its head. The female of the species wears a different outfit. Her body is brown-black with yellow spots around her head, and her tail feathers are striped in orange and yellow. It’s estimated that only 300 breeding pairs remain, and despite efforts to boost these numbers the population continues to decline.

Karak and his fellow South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoos are indigenous to south-western Victoria. Inhabiting pockets of native bushland, they usually nest in hollowed-out eucalyptus trees, with dead River Red Gums close to food sources being a favourite location. This is where things get tricky. The South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo’s nesting habitat is being threatened on a number of fronts. Intensive farming and the removal of potential nest trees for firewood all contribute to the loss of habitat, the single greatest danger facing the species.

Sadly, the problems don’t end there. Natural feeding grounds are also disappearing. South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoos eat the seeds of Brown Stringybark and Buloke trees. Since settlement, 60 per cent of Stringybarks and 98 per cent of Bulokes have been cleared for farming.

Luckily there are large tracts of these trees locked up in state parks, but the frequent clearing and burning of Stringybark forests outside these reserves continues to threaten the bird’s food supply. However, Karak and his mates are not giving up the fight. With the help of concerned locals and wildlife organisations, and with the chance to spread the word through Karak’s role as the Official Games Mascot, it’s hoped this beautiful and unique Australian bird can maintain its garrulous place in the Australian bush for many generations to come.

Karak’s younger cousin Karak Junior was hatched at Healesville Sanctuary in Victoria on 26 March 2004. Coincidently, this very special Red-tailed Black Cockatoo’s birthday is the same date as the Closing Ceremony of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Visit the Karak the Mascot page for more information.

Children excited by Karaks visitCommunity

The Commonwealth Games evolved as a way of bringing people together. And in 75 years, not much has changed. In 2006, visitors as well as athletes will gather in Melbourne for the Games – and communities across Victoria will come out to join them. Its capacity to unite proves that the Games is about a lot more than sport. And so to carry this spirit beyond the stadiums, a host of events are planned for off the field as well.

Off the Field

Getting involved

Australians love their sport. ‘Having a go’ is an unofficial national motto, and community involvement underpins the success of many great Melbourne events – especially sporting ones.

So if fans can’t swim like Ian Thorpe or run like Obadele Thompson, that needn’t stop them playing an active role in the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Through a program called Getting Involved, communities across Victoria are taking up an open invitation to celebrate the Games in their own area, and in their own way. For them, it’s a chance to strengthen local identity.

For visitors, it means that Games fever will follow wherever they go.

Food and wine festivals, local sports demonstrations, exhibitions of home-grown sporting heroes and public art themed around the Games are just some ways communities plan to fill a new chapter in their local history.

Reflecting Victoria’s love of diversity, each of the State’s 79 municipalities have ‘adopted’ another Commonwealth team in the lead up to 2006. By welcoming athletes and celebrating their culture, the ‘adoption’ initiative is designed to broaden understanding of the Commonwealth and create ongoing links.

The spirit of the Games is also making it into the classroom. Through a Games-inspired education program, students are learning about the geography, history and culture of the Commonwealth.

Useful Website

For more details, visit

Cultural Festival

As well as some of the world’s best athletes, Melbourne will also play host to some of the most innovative artists from across the Commonwealth in 2006.

Placing art and culture alongside sport, the Commonwealth Games Cultural Festival will celebrate what the 71 nations have in common (and what makes them unique) through a contemporary mix of performing art and exhibitions.

The action will start in the weeks leading up to the Opening Ceremony and culminate in a major festival in the cultural venues and public spaces of Melbourne during the Games. Regional centres that are hosting parts of the official sports program will also get into the act, with celebrations planned in Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong and Traralgon.

Running during the day and into the evenings, the performing arts dimension of the festival will feature music, dance, circus, physical theatre and street theatre. In Melbourne, events will be found near Games venues at Alexandra Gardens, Sidney Myer Music Bowl, and Arts Centre forecourt.

A range of exhibitions will also be showcasing the modern Commonwealth, with painting, photography, sculpture, craft, film and textiles all on show. The exhibition program will be mounted at institutions including the National Gallery of Victoria, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Museum of Victoria and university galleries in the CBD.

All aspects of the festival are designed to offer something to everyone, and there will be a special focus on families and young people. Activities will be free or low cost.

Education Program

Imagine it: athletes, officials and spectators from 71 Commonwealth nations coming to Melbourne to compete at the Commonwealth Games, each person bringing their own story, their own culture and their own history.

To ensure Victorian students make the most of this very special occasion, the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Education Program has been developed to help schools use the Games as a platform for learning. Launched by Victorian Premier Steve Bracks in October 2004, the program is founded on three key principles:

  • learning – about the Commonwealth of Nations and Australia’s role in it, and about athletes from different nations and their way of life
  • linking – teachers, students and school communities in Australia with each other and with schools in the Commonwealth
  • participating – in Games activities like the Opening Ceremony, as well as in sports and Games-related community activities.
More specifically, initiatives have been developed for all year levels, which will encourage kids, teachers and parents to become involved in a range of interesting, fun and creative ways.

  • Education program website – Designed as a hub for the education program, a dedicated website ( has been developed that contains information on the program, including downloadable resources, regular updates and important program dates
  • Classroom resources – Every school in Victoria will receive exciting and innovative classroom resources in a mix of formats. In addition, all curriculum materials will be made available on the website, ensuring schools in other states and territories and in all Commonwealth nations can experience Melbourne 2006
  • School and community based activities – A range of community activities are also highlighted as a part of the program. In the Art4Athletes program students can create a piece of artwork for a Commonwealth Games athlete. For those interested in creating their own Games-related media, CGTV will be a series of student-generated productions focusing on the Games. Or more simply, students can help welcome the Queen’s baton relay as it passes through their municipality.
  • six star energy rating for each house
  • plantation timbers used in construction
  • recycling building materials where possible
  • installing solar hot water systems and sensor lights
  • creating a nearby wetlands that will provide a home for native plants and animals
  • water collection and recycling systems.
  • making sure critical Games information (ticketing, event schedule) is available in various formats, particularly for the vision and hearing impaired
  • extending the Companion Card scheme to Games events, enabling a support person to attend without having to pay for a second ticket
  • helping communication between cultures by identifying volunteers able to speak other languages.
Visit the website for more information
This Website is closed and for reference purposes only. To guarantee the stability of Games data, all external links are being removed.

See you at Delhi 2010
Fireworks at the MCG at the closing of Melbourne 2006.
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