WORLD EXPO 88 - HOVERCRAFT JOYRIDES

In 1988, the World's fair was hosted by Australia's third largest city Brisbane, in Queensland. The $625 million fair, held on a 98-acre site on the south bank of the Brisbane River, was opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on April 30th, 1988, and was the largest event of the 1988 Bicentennial celebrations in Australia, attracting more than 18 million visitors.
World Expo '88 was an amazing six months between April 30th and October 30th 1988, running on the theme of "Leisure in the Age of Technology."

Peter Venn from the Queensland Sporting Hovercraft Club, thought hovercraft would be ideally suited for the 'Leisure in the Age of Technology' theme, and set about organising hovercraft joyrides to be run along the Brisbane River for the duration of Expo. A hovercraft suitable for the job was designed with the help of Owen Ellis, and a fleet of four craft built by Peter and his brother Danny.

During the six months of Expo, these hovercraft were giving joy rides 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, carrying a total of 138,581 passengers - that means for six months, someone was stepping into a hovercraft every 55 seconds. If these people were lined up in a single file, the queue would extend for over 70 kilometres.

3 Yamaha 50hp two stroke engines were worn out during this period, but the crew had engine replacement down to a fine art, and a hovercraft would be back on the water in 15 minutes after engine failure. Replacing the fan was a regular occurance, but this was only a 3 minute job.

Changing passengers was even quicker. From the time a craft left the water to the time it returned to the water with a new set of passengers, less than 20 seconds had passed - 30 seconds if the stop included refueling. This was a frenzied and chaotic, but very exciting six months.

The World Expo 88 site - with Peter Venn's hovercraft pontoon in the lower right corner
Service time on the hovercraft pontoon
Rushing to get everything done before 10 o'clock opening time
Peter Venn and Larry Lewis discussing which parts are worth putting back
I think we've done a big end
Peter Venn with three of the Expo Turbos used for joy rides
Hovercraft lined up ready for World Expo 88 guests to enjoy the rides
Larry's regular task of refuelling - we used one ton of fuel per day during World Expo 88
The crew is all prepared for the busy times
Peace and quiet on the Brisbane River before the onslaught
A rare sight - a short queue in the early days of World Expo 88
An early morning scene on the Brisbane River - with Brisbane city in the background
The queue for a hovercraft joyride stretches off into the distance
Expo hovercraft waiting on the pontoon for the rides to start
'Get in - sit down - shut up - and hang on' says Bob Neilson to his passengers
Peter takes the ticket ladies Daphne, Dianne and Ester for a test run
Peter takes some passengers for a run up the river
'Don't take my photo' says Larry's terrified passengers
Dan takes a couple of passengers for a ride
Bob Neilson heads for the river with another couple of joy riders
Well - it looks like this one is in need of a bit of maintenance
Hovercraft obstacles line the Brisbane River
Hovercraft obstacles line the Brisbane River
The visitors get a close up view of the World Expo 88 sculptures
These four craft carried 138,581 joy riding passengers during the 6 months of World Expo 88
Opening speech by Sir Llewellyn Edwards - The Chairman of World Expo 88
Just on dusk and one craft fails to finish the day
Darkness falls - and still the rides go on and on
Peter is congratulated by Sir Lew Edwards, the Chairman of World Expo 88
The obstacles along the Brisbane River are well lit up at night
Peter and Dan
The staff have been out for another spin with the boss
The Venns line up - Ester, Don (the father), Peter and Dan
Peter and Daphne Venn
Bob Hawke, the Australian Prime Minister checks us out
How big did you say you want this cheque???
After six months.... the Carnival was over
The skys the limit for the future
Whoops - one blew up..... Oh well, I guess thats one less obstacle to avoid
One last lap of the Brisbane River before World Expo 88 comes to a close
The craft line up for a display along the Brisbane River for the World Expo 88 crowd
Well - World Expo 88 is over..... so now the packing up begins
Peter pulls the pin
Catch it says Angus
It all folds up
You're a bit late boys..... the shows all over
James oversees the removal of the ticket office
Steady as she goes
David, Peter, Angus and Bob watch as Vic Venn tows the pontoon away
Dan, Bernie, Peter and David, Don, Bob, Angus, David Butler and James - well done team
138,581 passengers experienced hovercraft joyrides during World Expo 88
For 6 months - 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, a passenger stepped onto a hovercraft every 55 seconds