By JACQUELIN MAGNAY
As the Olympic torch was crossing from South Australia into Victoria yesterday, its final resting place at Homebush Bay - a key surprise element of the opening ceremony - was being revealed inadvertently.
Workers testing the retractable structure that houses the Olympic cauldron did not realise that the media - gathered at the stadium for an unrelated press conference with the Premier - was watching as the gleaming black structure with a circular lid slowly emerged over the top of the northern stand.
SOCOG's spokesman, Mr Milton Cockburn, stressed that the cauldron was incomplete and would look entirely different come Games time.
But the revelation that the cauldron is retractable has renewed speculation that the former gold medallist Betty Cuthbert, now stricken with multiple sclerosis, may be able to light the flame from her wheelchair before the cauldron is raised above the stadium.
The Australian Olympic Committee president, Mr John Coates, and the Olympics Minister, Mr Knight, will discuss who lights the cauldron a month before the September 15 opening ceremony but will not make a final decision until a day before to ensure its secrecy.
But none of this concerned Emily Rooke, 16, as she carried the torch
on its first leg in Victoria.