Welcome to Expo
As the Commissioner General for the Australian pavilion prepares to welcome an estimated 7 million visitors to the Australian pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo, Lyndall Sachs reflects on the achievements of the Australian team so far and the exciting opportunities to come.
With a total project value of A$83 million, the Australian pavilion and its associated business, communications and cultural programs, is the largest investment Australia has ever made in a World Expo, in what promises to be the largest Expo ever held. This substantial investment reflects both the substance and the importance of the Australia-China relationship. The pavilion provides a unique platform to bolster trade and investment; strengthen bilateral ties; and cement our already deep and broad people-to-people links.
Careful planning and the sheer hard work by our construction team saw the architectural drawings of Australian firm Wood Marsh transformed into our stunning pavilion. While logging 807,800 incident and injury-free work hours, the Australian pavilion construction team were consistently the first international pavilion to meet key targets.
Australia was the first pavilion to break ground, the first to complete the base of the building, the first to reach the highest point of construction and the first to complete installation of the exhibits. On May 31 our team completed construction and handed over management of the building to our operational staff, well ahead of schedule. As I write, we are rapidly heading towards achieving final accreditation by the Shanghai Expo Bureau.
In April, with the construction of our pavilion complete, we welcomed our secret weapon to Shanghai – our staff. From sommelier to sales assistant and mascot handlers to maitre d’, the highly qualified and motivated staff were chosen from over 3,000 applicants. Our staff come from every State and Territory in Australia. With a diverse range of experiences, they all share a passion for China, and are joined by equally talented Chinese nationals with a love for Australia. The team will be the human face of the landmark weathering steel pavilion. The research suggests that our enthusiastic team will welcome around 10 percent of all visitors to Expo through our doors.
We know that many visitors will come to see iconic images of Australia: our unique animals, beautiful natural environment and to taste our exotic food. We hope that while spending some time at our pavilion they will also learn about Australia’s sophisticated and innovative economy, our world-class education, training and scientific research capabilities and our strong environmental and urban development credentials.
Our visitors will experience our pavilion in three distinct Acts.
The first Act, Journey, tells the story of Australia’s history, beginning with our Indigenous culture and moving through the story of Australia since European settlement. We celebrate the lives of successful Australian and Chinese women who are working towards the Expo theme of ‘Better City, Better Life’, and compare Australian and Chinese cities and finish with a family portrait: a 22 metre by 5 metre photo representing all parts of Australia.
In Act 2, Discover, our visitors will be wowed by our innovative use of technology in a 1,000 seat ANZ theatre-in-the-round. Screens that rotate, rise and fall create an ever shifting surface to tell the story of Australian cities through the eyes of three children: Kate, Tom and Blue.
Finally in Act 3, visitors enter our three-storey atrium where the striking light sculptures filled with the floral emblems of Australia’s states and territories will captivate, especially when our talented resident company of aerialists dressed as scuba divers are performing (pictured right, courtesy Katarina Stuebe).
A range of Australian performers will also entertain visitors from the Rio Tinto stage in the atrium over the course of the Expo. In the atrium, visitors can buy Australian food and beverages including some classics like lamingtons and meat pies. Australian goods ranging from abalone, diamonds and opals, to lanolin products, t-shirts and stuffed toys can be purchased to give visitors lasting mementoes of their visit to the Australian pavilion.
Some of our guests will be invited to our invitation-only events to take place in the stunning VIP space. While attending seminars, high level policy discussions and cocktail receptions, our guests will be entertained by young, rising stars from Conservatoriums of Music across Australia. The pianists among them will play on the hand crafted Stuart & Sons piano installed in the pavilion. VIP guests will be treated to carefully planned menus combining high quality Australian ingredients and famous dishes with the best flavours and cuisine of China.
We look forward to welcoming our guests – both Australian and Chinese – and to sharing a taste of Australia with them and deepening and strengthening our already strong ties with the Chinese people in the most ambitious Australian World Expo pavilion yet. ■
For more information about Australia’s business programme visit www.australianpavilion.com
To see a full calendar listing of Australian community events during Shanghai World Expo, click here.
To get the heads up on Shanghai’s nightlife during expo, click here.
To read more about the Australian pavilion and its development, click here.