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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bmag 23rd April 2013 - Expo memories

The 25th anniversary of World Expo ’88 is almost upon us. The six-month party, where South Bank is now, opened on April 30th 1988 and if you were there, it’s time to reflect and celebrate all over again! Expo was, as Lord Mayor Graham Quirk described it at the opening of the Museum of Brisbane’s Expo exhibition “Light Fantastic”, a “game-changer” for our city. It opened our eyes to a world beyond Bribie Island, it introduced us the concept of being out at night – even during the week! – and, along with the Commonwealth Games six years earlier, it was gave us confidence that “big country town” Brisbane could perform on the world stage.

Naturally our clinging to Expo puzzles those too young to remember. I saw this tweet the other day from @Sleemol: “Brisbane’s obsession with constantly reflecting on Expo confuses me. It sounds like it was a good event – in 1988. Let’s move on. Surely this city’s best days are yet to come? The Expo nostalgia feels a bit like we’re conceding nothing like it will ever happen again”. That was greeted with this response from @Bundynelle: “No, leave us be to enjoy good memories. I get sad when people tell us `oldies’ to move on.”

So has there been another Expo-like experience since 1988? Sure, there was the 2001 Goodwill Games but – apart from the bridge named in its honour – it’s rarely mentioned. The G20 meeting of world leaders later this year might be a huge coup for Brisbane but with the street closures and motorcades, it’s not likely to leave us feeling like we’ve all been to an amazing party. The 2018 Gold Coast (and Brisbane –some of the event are being held here) Commonwealth Games is perhaps our next chance to tap that Expo feeling. Certainly for a generation not old enough to remember the 1982 Games or Expo, it will form memories to last a lifetime but the six-month party that was Expo ’88 will still take some beating!

When I began pondering this topic on Facebook, Chris Williams offered: “No event has been larger. It was where we learnt how to queue, how to start up a conversation with a stranger, and most importantly, how to thoroughly enjoy ourselves!”

My Expo memories? Well, I was only 16 so I certainly never went inside the Munich Festhaus (that’s not to say I didn’t learn the Chicken Dance that year!) Funnily enough, 25 years on, I get to visit every weekday. The ABC studios at South Bank have been built on the exact location of the Festhaus! Mum worked in the Queensland Pavilion. She could get me VIP access to any pavilion which – given the length of the queues, especially for the New Zealand Pavilion – was quite simply the best Expo perk! What I loved about the Queensland Pavilion itself was the Reuters news wire on computers in the main entrance. Geeky at the time, but understandable given where I’ve ended up in life, I used to call in on my way home from school (I would catch the train from Central to Manly) and sit there in school uniform scrolling through the breaking news stories! Not too many others will include that in their Expo memories, I bet!

It goes without saying that I also enjoyed the concerts (who could forget the Seekers singing “The Carnival is Over” on the last night?), the high-tower diving, the monorail and the myriad street performers. I was also one of the students chosen to line the Queen’s route as she walked through Expo on opening day, April 30th. I’m not sure I actually saw the royal party—we had to face the crowd—but I did my bit. I protected Her Majesty from her masses!

If all this has you reaching for your Expo memorabilia – flicking through your passport or pulling out your season pass – you should take a trip to the “Light Fantastic” exhibition at the re-opened Museum of Brisbane in City Hall. Entry is free and 612 ABC Brisbane has an Expo ’88 Memory Booth there, where you can tell me your story for replay on 612 Breakfast. Sorry Gen-Y, I guess you had to be there!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bmag 9th April 2013 - World records for SEQ

To slightly misquote Albert Einstein, if a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, what can be gleaned from a workspace covered in celebrity underwear? A couple of weeks ago, I found myself having to concentrate on the daily task of preparing my breakfast radio show, whilst surrounded by bras handed to me by, amongst others, Ten News weather presenter Tegan George, Olympic gold medallist Emily Seebohm, foodie Jan Power, Australian womens cricket captain Jodie Fields and ABC TV presenter Jessica Van Vonderen! The more I talked about them on air, the more bras we received. Listeners started bombarding ABC Shops with them. And the security desk at the ABC building in South Bank suddenly had to find boxes to accommodate them!

And Carryn Gorrie couldn’t be happier! You see, it’s for Carryn that I’ve started collecting women’s underwear! The Redlands mum wants to smash the world record for the most bras chained together. Girl Guides in Dargaville, New Zealand, are the current title-holders with 169,234. Carryn’s target is 200,000 by October 5th. But there’s more to this than just beating the record. For every bra donated – and no, they don’t have to be in perfect condition – Carryn asks for a one dollar donation. The money raised will go to cancer prevention and research. Then, after the bra-chain world-record attempt, usable bras will be handed on to groups such as The Uplift Project (, so they can go to women in need. Now that I have my radio listeners donating bras, I thought it was about time I invited you, dear bmag reader, to do the same. Feel free to send them to me at the ABC (GPO Box 9994 Brisbane 4001) or drop them at your nearest ABC Shop (eg Carindale, Chermside, Indooroopilly, Garden City, Toombul, North Lakes, Myer Centre) but you’ll also find a full list of collection points on Carryn’s website

There’s something about world records, isn’t there? For me, as a child, the Guinness Book was an annual Christmas present and I would spend weeks pouring over all the crazy human feats that were deserving of an entry in the book. As an adult, I’ve never lost my fascination or enthusiasm for world record attempts. Another southeast Queenslander currently vying for a spot in the book is Reid Anderton. As you read this, he’s probably on his bike, hoping to become the fastest person to cycle around Australia. The record stands at 37 days. Reid thinks he can do it in 35, which means averaging 400km a day. Think how tired you are after a four hour drive! Now imagine doing that distance on a bike! Reid left from Victoria Point on March 10th and, last time I checked, was well on his way to claiming the record.

Yet another local record attempt on the horizon is for the longest game of indoor bowls. The blokes at Mt Gravatt Bowls Club need to play for more than 36 hours to beat the current mark, held by six bowlers from Southgate in the UK. At Mt Gravatt, they reckon they can play for a full 48 hours and will give it a red-hot go May 18th-20th, raising money for prostate cancer research. Best of luck fellas!

Of course we already have some notable record-holders in this part of the world. Adam Lopez, a music teacher at Sheldon College, is in the book for the highest note ever sung by a man. Steve and Suzanne Eltis hold the record for the longest distance run three-legged in 24 hours (just over 100km), set at Eatons Hill State School in 2008. And Ipswich Paul Pisasale owns the largest tea-set collection in the world – yes, officially recognised by the Guinness Book.

But it’s another Ipswich City councillor who holds what is probably my favourite world record, and one which can never be beaten. In 1969, as a seventeen year old, Paul Tully become the world potato chip-eating champion, consuming 30 packets in 24 minutes and 33.6 seconds – and without a drink! Eating records were removed from the Guinness Book in 1990 for safety reasons, meaning Paul Tully will forever be the undisputed, unbeaten and unbeatable world record holder!