The Olympic Flame was lit on 4th May in a special ceremony in Greece on Mt Olympia by using a parabolic mirror to focus the sun’s rays to light the torch. It was then carried by runners for 10 days to Athens where it was put on a special plane for its trip to Guam and then a dozen Pacific Countries. It arrived in Australia at Uluru on the 8th June. The flame was then handed to the traditional owners and the first athlete to carry the flame was Nova Peris-Kneebone. She would be the first of 10,000 runners that carried the flame 27,000 kilometres over 100 days through 1000 different towns. The seventh runner was Adelaide’s Andrew McLeod.
On the 22 March 1999 Australia Post issued a stamp in stamp, the $1.20 Torch Relay stamp, showing a replica of the 1956 Torch relay stamp. It was also issued in a Special Folder with a 1956 penny. Alpha Covers released a Commemorative Cover. Australia Post issued a cover showing Ron Clarke entering the MCG postmarked with the FDI Postmark (APM31970) and a maximum card showing the torch lighting.
Australia 99 World Stamp Expo
From the 19-24 March 1999, over a six day period, Melbourne hosted Australia 99. It was sponsored by Australia Post in conjunction with the Australian Philatelic Federation. Over 70,000 people attended. The 22 March, the fourth day of the show, was Olympics Day, to celebrate the impending 2000 Olympics in Sydney. A special postmark (APM31896) was released.
The cover and stamp was also used for the 50th Anniversary of the MCG Olympics issue.
|1998 Australian Olympic Legends|
|2006 50 Years on: The Melbourne Olympics|
A highlight of Australia 99 was the introduction of the World’s first personalised stamps. The first stamp was the “Polly Woodside” with the selvedge on the left. This was subsequently changed in most cases to the right. The person is an Australia Post employee.
The Polly Woodside is a Belfast-built, three-masted, iron-hulled barque, preserved in Melbourne, and forming the central feature of the South Wharf precinct. The ship was originally built in Belfast by William J. Woodside and was launched in 1885.
The sheets were printed by Excel Digital using a Xerox Laser Printer. The A4 sheet of stamps was printed separately to the photos in the tabs and the surrounds. These were then added with the laser printer. The issues come with a separate sheet with the tabs only on inferior non gummed paper. Note that above the right hand upper stamp are the words “patent pending.
In 2007 Sierra Leone issued a minisheet portraying Ron Clarke lighting the Olympic flame. It was part of the “History of the Olympics” series issued by the Maldives, Micronesia, St Vincents and Palau. Each country portrayed a different Olympics. One of the stamps portrayed Vladamir Kuts of the USSR taking the Gold Medal in both the 5,000 and 10,000 metres in the MCG.
The minisheet also was issued as imperforate.