Two fat ladies? Ah no … Jason Ford and Hugh O’Brien with the “big 8s” that are now a special part of Jason’s collection (Photo: Patrick Warnick)

November 28, 2023

Jason Ford is well-known in the South Burnett for his interest in everything culinary … but he’s also the region’s (and possibly the world’s) biggest Expo 88 expert.

Jason has collected a massive amount of Expo 88 memorabilia, and even curated a special exhibition at the Kingaroy Heritage Museum in 2018 to mark the event’s 30th anniversary.

His treasure hoard now includes the actual “88” from the front of Expo House in South Brisbane, the building from where the event was planned and administered.

Kingaroy-born Hugh O’Brien – who wrote TV, radio and newspaper advertisements to promote World Expo 88 at the time – has had the numbers in his possession for 35 years.

“When Expo ended and the site was being dismantled, I saw the big 8s lying on the ground, ready to be dumped. When the security guard’s head was turned, I ‘rescued’ the numbers and put them in my car. I ended up lugging them around for 35 years and three house moves,” Mr O’Brien said.

“I thought if we ever moved to a house that was number 88 in the street, I’d put them on the fence. But alas, no one in our family ever moved to a number 88!

“When I learned about Jason and his passion for keeping the legacy of Expo alive, I knew the numbers should go to him.

“Kingaroy is my old hometown and it’s where I learned the skills that helped me work on the Expo advertising campaign.”

Hugh, a former student of St Mary’s Kingaroy, was an announcer, copywriter, sports commentator and news editor at radio station 4SB from 1973-76.

Jason had a front row seat to the construction of World Expo 88, looking on through the windows of COTAH (College of Tourism and Hospitality) where he was studying to be a chef.

“I saw the site take shape and then I saw the benefit World Expo 88 brought to Brisbane and Queensland,” Jason  said.

“Expo opened up a whole world of possibilities and encouraged us all to dream big. I want future generations to be able to access everything to do with Expo 88 so they too can be inspired.”

Jason has spent countless hours digitising a vast array of Expo material including merchandise, photos, memorabilia and media coverage, much of which can be seen in the World Expo 88 Facebook group.

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World Expo 88 House in 1988 showing the numbers in place (Photo: Supplied)

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