The 'Ludwig Leichhardt Expedition Exposition'
– ‘Food, fun, facts and friends’
The “Leichhardt Expo” (21-26 September 2004) was an outstanding success, thanks in large part to the core funding provided by the Queensland Government through its Events Regional Development Program.
On 1 October 2004, Councillor Ross Thornton, Chairman of the Steering Committee, Leichhardt Expo, submitted the final report on the week-long events – this is an edited and abridged version. (Our thanks to retired Taroom Shire Council executive John Jennings for this summary, and our acknowledgements to the local councils involved, many of which no longer exist in their previous forms.)
Organisers of the complex, five-day program could be forgiven for repeating the explorer’s words at the end of his epic journey from Jimbour Station in Southeast Queensland to the far-flung, isolated northern outpost of Port Essington, NT: “I was deeply affected in finding myself again in civilised society and could hardly speak, the words growing big with tears and emotion.”
One guest speaker summed up the 2004 journey along the first 450 km section of the 1844-46 Leichhardt Trail 160 years later: “It took the explorer 14 months to reach his destination while the organisers of the Leichhardt Expo took two years to set up this event.”
With five council areas, eight meals, one breakfast, ten guest speakers eight major stopovers, four MPs and a series of visits from 21 to 26 September, ranging from Dalby’s retail heart to the magnificent splendour of Jimbour House and the spartan isolation of Expedition National Park, the 234 paying participants got their money’s worth.
The state government’s $25,000 commitment was matched by the same amount, collectively, from the five participating local councils – Dalby, Wambo, Chinchilla, Murilla and Taroom – and the program budget came in very close to the combined total. (A modest shortfall was met by the member councils.)
The Expo also received generous support from sponsors including Telstra Country Wide, the RACQ, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Santos Limited, the National Australia Bank, Leichhardt Country Beef Bonanza (Wandoan), Elders, Landmark, Pioneer Permanent and Wagners.
This financial backing was coupled with substantial assistance from Jimbour Station, the Toowoomba and Golden West Regional Tourism Association, Leichhardt Highway Promotions Association plus all Visitor Information Centres along the way.
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