Day 92 – Australia (7 September, 2000)
Arriving in Canberra, the Flame was nervous. The attempted assassination on its life at Uluru 92 days ago was suddenly fresh in everyones mind again. Because the culprit was going to be handling the Flame once again…
In a low key ceremony we were to take the Flame into the grounds of Yarralumla – the official residence of the Governor General. And yes, the Governor General was going to be handling the Flame again. But this time the Flame Security boss planned to keep the precious safety lantern with the backup Flame well away from him. So when the time came, the Governor General was handed an already lit torch by Chris. Crisis averted.
The real magic of the moment was the guest appearance by the greatest living legend, Nelson Mandela.
It was not an officially scheduled moment with Mandela. He happened to be staying at the residence on the day and agreed to be part of the ceremony on the lawn. For me it was a great moment to be so close to such an historic world leader. It sounds strange, but you cant help but feel slightly enlightened just by being close to him.
Photographically it was a bit hit and miss. As he was technically not here for the Torch Relay, there was no properly choreographed moment with Mandela and the Flame. He was sitting in the front row of the small audience. Then the Governor General walked up to him with the torch. Mandela stood and for all of ¼ second, put his hand on the torch, then sat down again. I got a shot. Not a great shot. But it was the best anyone could hope for in the moment. He spent more time holding babies and shaking hands. None the less, a great moment of my life.