Aussie expo effort to feature lesser-known aspects of Down Under

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The Australian representative to the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi Prefecture says she wants to make the expo experience “relevant and valuable” and show the lesser-known aspects of Down Under.

“For us, (the expo) is not just a cultural show. It’s an opportunity for us to show Japan and the Japanese people to help them learn a lot more about Australia,” Glenda Gauci, Australia’s commissioner-general for the Aichi Expo, said in an interview.

“I think the Japanese people like Australia. But Australia is not just about kangaroos and koalas and beaches. We are a lot more than that,” said Gauci, a career diplomat of 20 years.

The Australian effort has a federal budget of 35 million Australian dollars, or 2.75 billion yen.

The Australian pavilion’s main exhibits will include a high-tech holographic image of a baobab tree (called the boab in Australia), and the Data Forest, a room filled with TV screens installed like totems or trees showing contemporary Australian images such as the Great Barrier Reef.

There will be an 11-meter model of a platypus, a species that has remained unchanged since the time of the mammoths. A platypus character will also be featured as the pavilion’s mascot.

So far, Australia has scheduled more than 130 business-related events and seminars.

The expo, located near Nagoya, will run for six months starting March 25.

The central theme will be the environment, and Australia faces problems of soil salinization, erosion and deforestation that undermine its farming and livestock activity.

Yet Australia has long made an effort to manage pollution, Gauci said, and it can offer technical expertise on environmental management.

Gauci was in Japan for the official handover of the pavilions from the expo organizers on Sept. 14.