As the Publicity Officer for Bella Vista Farm, I have written many stories highlighting the Friends of Bella Vista, so I thought you might like to hear my story.

At this time, when the Tokyo Olympic Games were due to begin, I find myself reflecting on the year 2000. I was invited to join the Ceremonies team for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

My role was managing 250 backstage volunteers who prepared the ‘on-stage’ performers with makeup, costuming and co-ordinating the thousands who entered and exited the arena.

I had the honour of working closely with Ric Birch, Director of Ceremonies and David Atkins, Artistic Director and Producer. Ric was a creative genius in his concept for the Ceremonies. David was a remarkable leader and both were generous and empathetic on a one-on-one basis.

Here are some of my favourite memories from that remarkable year.

One night at dinner, seated next to a quiet, imposing man I said ‘what is your job for the Opening Ceremony?’

Bruce Rowland replied “I wrote ‘The Man From Snowy River’! I was in awe. I have loved this music ever since seeing the film. The magnificent start to the Opening Ceremony with the riders and stock horses galloping into the arena still overwhelms me with emotion.

Julie Anthony lost her sunglasses on the flight to Sydney. I located them through the airline. She was thrilled and thanked me generously with a signed CD. Her performance of ‘Advance Australia Fair’ which had begun with Human Nature, is still a highlight for me.

Nikki Webster, although only 13, was a real trooper. On a freezing night at a dress rehearsal she was hoisted high into the Stadium, wearing her flimsy sundress. Not once did she complain. She was such a professional and her rendition of ‘Under Southern Skies’ is another standout for me.

Author Gisela Horner Working At The Sydney Olmpics Olympic For This Memories Volunteer
Gisela horner – opening ceremonies 2000

And there was Kylie Minogue rehearsing ’Waltzing Matilda’ in my office. Another day I bumped into her in the carpark and we had a chat. She was as sweet and gracious as her image.

I christened our office ‘The Bunker’, which was underground beneath the North Stand. Emerging from The Bunker into the sunlight was always a pleasure.

One evening I had the great privilege of seeing Cathy Freeman winning Gold! Who could forget the famous cauldron moment? I was standing in an adjacent arena and saw the flame pass by and reach the main Stadium. I could see a glow but not the flame. It worked perfectly at rehearsal the night before. As we saw on the night, the cauldron hovered at the base for those agonising minutes before it finally attached to the rails, connected to the city gas supply and slowly ascended, burning brightly. It all happened in the nick of time as there was only 60 seconds of gas left in the cylinder!

Looking back, I feel proud to have been part of a world-class extravaganza.

I have been a volunteer at Bella Vista Farm for about two years now. There are about 20 volunteers at Bella Vista Farm and we are always looking for more.

Anyone who is interested in volunteering at Bella Vista should email friends, [email protected]

Once the Farm is open, we would be delighted to welcome visitors back. Let’s hope it’s not too far away. The farm is located at Cnr Norwest Boulevard and Elizabeth Macarthur Drive, Bella Vista.

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