The program ran on time and as scheduled, with no disruptions or any difficulties created by the weather. All guest speakers from overseas – Germany, the UK and USA – and interstate representatives gave their best to the events, a number of them attracting considerable media attention in their own right.
The Expo attracted a total of 234 paid delegates plus guest speakers and VIPs, including four MPs, for a total of 250 official delegates. The peak attendance figure was the noon segment at Jimbour House with a total of 450 people including paid delegates, VIPs, a coachload of 50 from the motor home convention in Toowoomba, other visitors, plus local residents who enjoyed the lunch, speeches and entertainment. Dalby and Wambo Council assisted Jimbour with the arrangements; this was a spectacular centrepiece of the Expo and reflected great credit on the owners and staff of Jimbour Station.
At the official opening ceremony in Chinchilla, the Minister for Local Government, the Hon. Desley Boyle, representing the Premier, acknowledged the Queensland Events funding plus $3,000 from Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service – a total state government commitment to the Expo of $28,000.
The Mayor of Leichhardt Municipality in Sydney, Cr Alice Murphy, made a civic call on Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman before the Expo, while the Lord Mayor of Darwin, Peter Adamson, sent greetings to the Expo via a CD. (Sydney was the starting point for Leichhardt’s 1844-45 journey and Port Essington, near Darwin, was the finishing point.)
The Courier-Mail and The Sunday Mail published items on their respective Travel pages beforehand and then the editor of The Courier-Mail decided to fully cover the Expo itself with journalists and a photographer, the result being generous coverage on page 3 in one edition and page 6 in another. This coverage generated strong enquiries from radio, both the ABC and commercial broadcasters, and Expo organisers were called on to provide daily, on-the-spot live-to-air bulletins as the Expo proceeded. (There were also late enquiries from potential delegates which regretfully had to be declined.)
The ABC played a very strong supporting role from the start of the project with regular news and talk items. They also sent one of their top radio executives, well-known Colin Munro, from Sydney, as a paying delegate. Colin set the scene for the rest of the Expo with his excellent first-night presentation at the Jandowae dinner on 21 September. The RACQ, which came on board as a major and influential sponsor, including promotional assistance at the Brisbane Travel Show and the club magazine, and arranged for Channel 7 to film the event beforehand, from start to finish, for its Queensland Weekender program. This was telecast on 21 July, and led to several dozen additional ticket sales.
Poetry in motion
Warwick poet Marco Gliori found the right words to honor Ludwig Leichhardt in a poem he prepared specially for the Expo. Two verses caught the mood of the spellbound
“Sugared tea and slabs of fatcake, lazy lizards for each meal;
Strips of salted beef and honey, could you get a better deal?
‘Use the land’ was Leichhardt’s motto, like the natives in that part
Who in history’s feeble contest, plunged a spear through Gilbert’s heart.”
“Prince of Explorers, where you rest we cannot yet deliver
Though the trees are marked with ‘L’ along the Maranoa River,
Your mystery lays scattered now, the answers have departed,
And your destiny unlike those tracks, remains today uncharted.”