Expo '88, officially known as 'World Expo 88' was a World's Fair held in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia during a six month period between 30 April 1988 and 30 October 1988. The theme of the Expo was "Leisure in the Age of Technology", and the mascot for the Expo was an Australian platypus, named "Expo Oz"..
The AU$625 million fair was the largest event of the 1988 Bicentennial celebrations of the British settlement of Australia.
Brisbane under Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen then developed Maccomick's earlier proposal to host an International scale Exposition, however at no cost to the Australian taxpayer, a world's first 'free enterprise' World Exposition, which the Federal Government rubber stamped. This dovetailed nicely with the State Government of Queensland's long term ambitions to redevelop the southern bank of the Brisbane river, immediately opposite the central business district.
With federal representation, at the December 1983 BIE General Assembly, Brisbane won the right to hold the 1988 World Exposition, as a specialised international exposition. Immediately the Brisbane Exposition and South Bank Redevelopment Authority (BESBRA) was formed with Sir Llewellyn Edwards, State Deputy Premier, at the helm. Maccormick later was appointed as Joint Chief Architect of the Expo, under the architectural firm Bligh Maccormick 88.
Around 100 works of sculpture were either commissioned, purchased or borrowed for the Expo at a cost of $25 million dollars. Large sun sails were erected over the Expo site to provide shade from the hot Queensland climate. These became an icon of the Expo, becoming an element of the Expo's sun-sails logo. Two thousand kilometers of telecommunication wire were laid during construction of the site.
A $4.5AUD million 88-metre symbol tower for the Expo was constructed, called 'Night Companion', which featured a gold and copper dome black spire top, with a xenon laser beam eye which scanned the Brisbane horizons each Expo evening up to 60km away.
A monorail was constructed for Expo '88 to take visitors quickly around the Expo site. Costing AU$12 million, it consisted of 2 stations at either end of the site, 2.3 kilometres of track and 4 nine-carriage trains. The route included going through the Queensland Pavilion, across the Pacific Lagoon and beside the Brisbane River. The system was able to carry 44,000 passengers per day. Following Expo, part of the monorail joined the existing Sea World monorail system.
A ticket to the fair allowed entry to the World Expo Park amusement park at the same location. Although originally intended to be a permanent feature, the park remained open for only one year after Expo had closed.
The exposition was opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 30 April 1988 to much fanfare. The fair attracted more than 18 million visitors, including staff and VIPs, more than double the predicted 7.8 million, and was considered a turning point in the history of Brisbane, which had recently successfully hosted the XIIth Commonwealth Games in 1982.
The Chairman and Chief Executive for Expo '88 was former State Government Minister, Sir Llewellyn Edwards.
Despite late entrants into the Exposition due to domestic political measures, the Exposition attracted some 100 pavilions, from 52 governments, of which 36 were from international-level, and numerous corporate participants. Major western and European nations were represented such as the USA, USSR (last representation at a World Exposition), France, Federal Republic of Germany, Great Britain, Canada, Spain, Greece, Singapore, Thailand, Nepal, Pakistan, China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, amongst others.
State-level and multi-lateral organisations included the six Australian states, the United Nations, the European Union, the Vatican, three American states (Hawai'i, California and Alaska), one Japanese prefecture (sister state of Queensland, Saitama Prefecture), and one Japanese city (Brisbane's sister city Kobe City).
Corporate pavilions included IBM, Ford, Fujitsu, Queensland Newspapers, Australia Post, Cadbury Chocolate, Suncorp, and the Queensland Teachers Credit Union. NASA and Universal Studios hosted outdoor exhibits, with models of the space shuttle and apollo program, as well as the car KITT from the TV series Knight Rider.
The most expensive pavilion was Japan ($26AUD million), followed by the Queensland Pavilion ($20AUD million) and the Australia Pavilion ($18AUD million). The largest Pavilions were also Queensland, followed by Australia then Japan.
The top 'five' Pavilions were considered to be Australia, with its special effects 'Dreamtime Theatre'; Queensland, with its popular people mover ride through Queensland of the present and the future; Japan with its Japan Pond and Garden and hi-tech displays; Switzerland, with its artificial snow ski slope and cable car ride; and Nepal, with its 3-level hand-crafted Nepal Peace Pagoda.
As well as the popular platypus mascot Expo Oz, designed by Disney's Imagineering Division, there were several popular themed initiatives that promoted the Expo, most notably the Expo's two interchangeable logos (as noted above), one an boomerang-styled '88' on a wire frame globe, and, another, the colourful sunsails logo, which superimposed aspects of the Expo's entertainment on a relief of one of the Expo's popular sunsails (designed by Ken Cato, of Cato Purnell Partners).
The logos were used extensively throughout the Expo site, as well as on all official letterheads and souvenirs, and a costume Expo Oz could be seen as part of the daily parades, shows, and other variety performances. Over 500 items of souvenir memorabilia were made using Expo Oz's image. Expo Oz also featured in extensive international tours in the lead-up to the Expo, to Europe, the USA and Japan.
The theme song of the Expo, 'Together We'll Show the World!', by Frank Millward and Carol Lloyd was also an important rallying point in promoting the Expo in the lead-up to and during phases of the fair, and captured a wonderful sense of the excitement of the Expo.
The colourful theme for the Australia Pavilion, which became synonymous with the hosting of the Expo with Australia as host nation, was designed by prominent Australian artist Ken Done, and featured huge playful colourful letters making up the word Australia in an Australia Pavilion Entrance set, and Exit set, with the entrance set a stack of nine, 3x3, some 2.1 metres high each, and the exit set, in a line of nine letters, some 5.6 metres high each. These letters became a very popular photo opportunity for the Expo, and the theme was also found on the brightly coloured Australia Pavilion uniforms also.
Big international and Australian names were a feature at the Expo. Perennial Australian favourites such as Little River Band, Mental as Anything, the Cockroaches, Joe Camilleri and the Black Sorrows, John Farnham, Julie Anthony, Simon Gallaher, and Jon English, were regular performers, joined with Julio Iglesias, John Denver, Donny Osmond, Cher, Phyllis Diller, and a wide variety of international theatre, opera and classical music at the adjoining (separate ticket admission) 'World Expo on Stage' program at the Queensland Performing Arts Complex.
At the Closing Ceremony of Expo '88 at the River Stage there were fireworks and a concert, with the famous Australian pop-folk band, The Seekers, singing one of their most famous songs "The Carnival Is Over" at the very end of the celebrations, in what has become an Australian tradition. As Judith Durham was not available to join the other Seekers for the Expo '88 Closing Ceremony celebrations, popular Australian soprano Julie Anthony joined the group as the lead vocalist in her stead.
The only remaining traces of the Exposition on the former site are the Nepal Peace Pagoda, part of the Nepalese representation from the Expo, a traditional three-storey hand-made wooden replica of a famous Pagoda in Kathmandu, the Board Walk at the south end of the parklands, and two (since renovated) Pubs, the Plough Inn and the Ship Inn.
The Skyneedle (or "Night Companion") is 88 metres high and beams light skywards with a visibility of more than 60 kilometres during special events.
The Skyneedle, which was originally built for World Expo'88, was to be relocated to Tokyo Disneyland after the Expo. Hairdresser and local celebrity Stefan bought the rights and moved it 500 metres from its original location at South Bank to his corporate headquarters in South Brisbane, where it remains a prominent Brisbane landmark.
One can view and take part in a Heritage Walk of some of the major works at the World Expo '88 Art Heritage trail at Foundation Expo '88..
The Foundation and Association host activities at the Pagoda, including two Annual meetings on the anniversary dates of the opening and closing of the Expo, on 30 April and 30 October, as well as events that further the memory of World Expo '88 on the local and international stage.