Tuesday, April 30, 2013

25 Years Since World Expo '88

It's been that long since my home city of Brisbane held this wonderful event!  I was 15 years old and in year 10 of high school.  But unlike most kids, my Mum was offered to work there and we got to see behind the scenes before the place opened!  What a great opportunity that was!  
We got to see the rehearsals of the night parades, the monorail in its testing stages, meet the 'Towards 2000' cast and crew - and get autographs.  And I got to meet Bruce Paige.  This man read the news for Channel 9 here in Brisbane then and it wasn't so long ago he retired from there.  He did a piece about the monorail live from the Expo site and - just as they went back to the studio - he turned and saw us all there.  I got to shake hands with him and have a chat with him about what I wanted to do with my life.  Bruce was such a lovely person and he greet my family the same way you saw on the news, just very polite and pleasant.  I found my autograph book recently and found his autograph in it, still looking as new as it did all that time ago.  It brought back that memory so clearly.

But World Expo '88 was a time where Brisbane City itself was opened up to the world.  Our little city went from being tiny, unknown and domestic to international, a tourist attraction and 'grown-up' almost overnight.  
I remember my brother and I both had 3-day passes at first.  We had both come into a little money and asked our folks if we could have season passes; which ate up the whole of the money we had coming to us.  So, Mum and Dad thought it would be a good experience for us.  And so, we got season passes; and I got in and used mine for a good part of my year 10 year.  It was wonderful and I went into Expo most days when I knew there wasn't anything really important going on at school.  
I've got almost 2 passports filled up, a souvenir coin from there, photos I took of the day and night parades, photos of Oz - Expo '88's Platypus mascot - and I also got to meet K.I.T.T the car from the Knight Rider television show.  They had him on display and I just happened to join a line (which wasn't too obscure when you were around the Expo site; as there were many lines going places, you just didn't know where) and I waited around an hour to find out where it went.  By the time I found the end of it, I was looking at the car; and regretting the fact I had forgotten my camera that day!  It was one of my best memories of World Expo '88... to meet and be able to sit in the driver's seat of the famous Trans-am; the original one too!

I couldn't tell you a memory that was the best or worse, but there was a lot about Expo '88 that really did need to be experienced to understand and know it was real.  There were so many pavilions around - and the New Zealand one was the one with the longest lines for some unknown reason - but I did enjoy going there.  However, whether I went there on my own or with family, I had a good time.  It was a safe place because of how much security was around the place and that it was a friendly place to be as well.  It also proved that Brisbane had a long way to go in its growth, development and people power... and as a city, she could do it.
And you know, all these years, later, Brisbane has proven to be a city that has grown bigger than expected.  A couple of years ago, I went to see Sir James Galway in concert.  His last visit here was in 1986 - before World Expo '88 - and he told us that he stayed at the exact same hotel he did the last time he was here; but when he went for a walk, he got lost and had to ask for directions back to his hotel.  The kind people of Brisbane walked him back; and he asked what happened to our city, a lot of people in the audience called out:  'World Expo '88!'.  And you know, I think they're right.     


  1. I was only just thinking about this big event in history recently. I need to make an album for this one. I read somewhere last year the World Expo is still going on throughout the globe. Brisbane was just the lucky city to be the host of the big event, 25 years ago. The only problem is if the expo happened in Australia again, the security would have to be alot tighter then it was 25 years ago.

    1. Very true. Also, we don't really have the space like we did all those years ago today to make it as central as it was.

      It's the same as us trying to have the Commonwealth Games here again; it just wouldn't be possible - not again, as we don't have the space we'd need to house the athletes and the places for the competitions we did in 1982.