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The expo that grew

Australia has never had a national  history & genealogy expo or fair - until less than two weeks ago. The British Isles, north America and New Zealand have all had major national exhibitions - events targeting the wider public, rather than just the committed researchers as conferences do.  Australia has had regional and even state expos/fairs, but nothing on a national scale. Unlock the Past ran four state expos (SA, NSW, Vic and Qld) and three regional expos (Coffs Harbour, Cairns and Mount Gambier) between 2010 and 2012.

Last year we (Unlock the Past) felt that 2016 was the right time for another major history/genealogy event in Adelaide, six years after our first expo here and four years after the Australasian (genealogy) Congress in Adelaide. This was confirmed after consulting with others, and so another state expo was planned - for October 2016 in Adelaide.

The expo that grew

By early 2016 we had expressions of interest from Ancestry, VicGUM and Ryerson index and other prospective exhibitors from interstate. Also indication that interstate visitors would come. From there the planned state expo morphed into a national expo, the first ever held in Australia. Here is a summary of what was initially planned and what it finally became.


  • initial expectation as a state expo - 40-50 (with perhaps 5-6 from interstate) 
  • final numbers as a national expo - nearly 100 (including over 20 from interstate or overseas)
     - plus about 35 others who sent information for a free brochures table


  • initial expectation as a state expo - 25 (with perhaps 6-8 from interstate)
  • final numbers as a national expo - 46 (including 17 from interstate and 5 from overseas)


  • initial expectation as a state expo - 40 in 2-3 theatres
  • final numbers as a state expo - 92 in 5 theatres

prize draw

  • initial expectation as a state expo - about 20 prizes from about 10 donors totalling $2000 in value
  • final numbers as a national expo - 101 prizes from 37 donors totalling $10,000 in value

attendees (different people) - including exhibitors and helpers

  • initial target as a state expo - 300-500 (we hoped for more, but based planning on this number)
  • final numbers as a national expo - 700 (22% of those pre-booked were from outside SA)

Will there be another national expo?
At this stage we have no commitment to another expo. The recent expo was only ever intended as a one off, but we will review this next month after we get exhibitor and visitor survey results back. As the numbers above show the expo finished up about double the size it was originally expected to be. If the surveys suggest there is significant interest in doing it again, we still need to consider the viability of doing so, involving as it necessarily would additional personnel and expertise to plan, organise, manage and market an expo on this scale again.