Ballina to bat
By SAMANTHA TURNBULL
BALLINA has won gold in the bid to become a host destination when the Commonwealth Games Queens' Baton Relay passes through the Northern Rivers next year.
Lismore and Byron Bay have also been announced as thoroughfares, however Ballina has been chosen for an overnight stay and to host an official evening ceremony.
Ballina mayor Phil Silver said the announcement had the potential to give the town's tourism industry a significant boost.
"I'm very pleased Ballina has been selected. Hopefully we will be able to demonstrate to the rest of the country how beautiful our beaches and coastal cycleways are," he said.
"And because Ballina is an overnight stop it should mean a link-up with morning television which will help our tourist operators."
Lismore mayor Merv King said he was also pleased with the news, but had found out in advance and had been sworn to secrecy.
The exact route of the journey will also remain a secret until later in the year, as well as the specific dates the baton will pass through the region.
Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham was unavailable for comment yesterday.
The relay will visit 17 locations in the State between January 25 and February 28, 2006.
Local participants will be chosen from nominations received over the next few months.
The event is the world's longest relay and began at Buckingham Palace on March 14. It will make its way through Commonwealth nations, ending in the games host city of Melbourne.
nTo nominate a participant visit www.queensbatonrelay.telstra.com
Nomination forms are also available from Telstra Shops and offices, or by calling 1300002006.