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Brisbane May 17, 1988 - A tour of Expo '88

By Bob Van Leer

SpanishPavilion  (BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA, May 17, 1988) - Today we toured World Expo 88, an internationally sanctioned exposition billed as a $600 million project. The 100 acre site is on the south bank of the Brisbane River across from downtown. More than 50 governments are participating and 25 corporations and the theme of the fair is "Leisure in the Age of Technology".

  Brisbane is Australia's third largest city with a population of a million people on the shores of Moreton Bay. As were other Australian cities, it was founded by transported English convicts. It was pointed out to us that the American Revolution was responsible for this shipment of convicts to Australia as England shipped them to the U.S. before the revolution.

   But before we start the tour we get our marching orders. Our group is managed by three guides: two from the National Newspaper Association, Washington D.C. office and the third is an Australian representative of a tour company. The symbol of authority is a red umbrella. When we see it raised on high over the crowd we are to gather around it.

  We start with coffee at the Canadian pavilion. But first, we have to enter the grounds. The lines to enter the grounds are a couple of blocks long and the people in line appeared to have been waiting there for some time. But we are on a VIP tour and are led past these lines and a special gate is opened to let us through. Some of the people in the line lost their usual sunny disposition about this. We encountered the same reaction other times during the day when we were given this treatment. We felt guilty; but not guilty enough to get at the end of the line.

  The Canadian pavilion was one of the best of those we saw today. A five screen movie presentation was very well done. The Russian pavilion had a display of projected holograms, those three-dimensional pictures you sometimes see such as the one on your credit card. But these were the best I've ever seen. Some visitors thought they were real. I asked, but was unable to find out, if they could project motion also. Wedded to television, this could be spectacular.

  We had lunch at the VIP lounge of the Australian pavilion; a calm, quiet island in the hustle and bustle of the Expo. The afternoon was taken up with tours of the United Kingdom, Italian and China pavilions. The most remembered was the display of silk embroidery at the Chinese pavilion, some of it done on the spot. These gossamer bits of fabric are more like fabric painting rather than embroidery. Silk threads are split lengthwise into as many as 32 strands and used to make the embroideries that are mounted and viewed from both sides, often with the object different colors on each side.

  We finished the day with a briefing at a hospitality room sponsored by the Queensland Newspapers. (Queensland is the Australian state of which Brisbane is the capitol.) Betty and I took a cab back to the hotel about 7 p.m. We had made tentative plans with another couple, Ralph and Marcia Sears, of Montevallo, Alabama, to go out for dinner but we were all bushed and decided to call it a day.

  The weather today was cloudy with occasional rain. The humidity was 100 percent and the temperature was high. Tomorrow it's back to Expo for another full day.

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