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Expo '88
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Expo '88

Expo 88 was a Worlds Fair held in Brisbane, Australia between April 30 and October 30 1988. The theme of the Expo was "Leisure in the Age of Technology." The $AUD625 million fair was the largest event of the bi-centennial celebrations of European settlement to Australia that year.

The exposition was opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on April 30, 1988, to much fanfare.

The fair attracted more than 18 million visits, including staff and VIPs, more than double the predicted 7.8 million, and was considered a turning point in the history of Brisbane, who had recently successfully hosted the XIIth Commonwealth Games in 1982.

Chair & CEO of the Exposition Authority was the well-liked former State Government Minister, the Hon Sir Llewellyn Edwards, who oversaw 30, 000 accredited staff.

Despite late entrants into the Exposition due to domestic political measures, the Exposition attracted some 80 pavilions, of which 36 were from international-level governments. Most expensive pavilion was Japan ($26AUD million), followed by Queensland and Australia.

Expo was situated on the South Bank of the Brisbane river, opposite the city's CBD. For many years this area, mainly industrial, had been largely derelict. The creation of Expo, along with the recent construction of the Queensland Cultural Centre, helped to revive the area.

The massive sun-sails that graced the Exposition site, giving shade from the Queensland sun, became iconic features of the Exposition and the South Brisbane skyline, and were removed at its conclusion.

The other icon from the Exposition, the 88-metre high "Night Companion" was purchased by flamboyant Brisbane businessman Stefan Ackerie and relocatged to his corporate headquarters in South Brisbane, just a few hundred metres from the former Expo site, where it remains a prominent Brisbane landmark.

The exposition averaged 100, 000 visitors a day, in a city populated with 1 million persons. Highest turn-out was some 184,000 persons on the penultimate day of the Exposition, October 29, 1988.

After the end of Expo, various contingency plans were mooted as to possible future developments. One proposal that was turned down was for a 'second' CBD-area to be developed, however this proposal was rejected.

The area was redeveloped and reopened as the South Bank Parklands, some four years after the Exposition, and featuring a large artificial beach and salt-water pool.

The only remaining trace of the Exhibition is the Nepalese Pavilion, a traditional three-storey hand-made wooden replica of a famous Pagoda in Kathmandu. It was moved to a new location beside the Brisbane River.


2,000 km of telephone wire were used in the construction of the site and $25million Australian dollars were spent on commissioning, purchasing and loaning some 100 works of sculpture for the Exposition.

On April 30, 2004, sixteen years after the Expo's official opening, a commemorative foundation for the Exposition was launched, named Foundation Expo '88.

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