By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
March 24, 2011

Alex Lee, 28, and Marius Eilertsen, 27, armed with folding chairs and blankets, took their places — Nos. 1 and 2 — in front of Apple’s (AAPL) Sydney, Australia, retail store Wednesday at noon local time, 53 hours before the iPad 2 was scheduled to go on sale. By Thursday evening, the line of customers behind them extended down George Street and around the corner to King, according to ITWire.

Half a world away at Apple’s Regent Street store in London, a 32-year-old personal banker named Jewels Lewis staked out his spot Thursday morning at 7:30 GMT, with only 33.5 hours to spare.

“I was fourth in the queue for the first iPad,” he told the London Evening Standard, “It was such an amazing atmosphere, I really wanted to be first this time.”

Australia and the U.K. are two of the 25 countries scheduled to begin selling iPad 2’s Friday at 5 p.m. local time. Japan was also supposed to get the device, but an earthquake, tsunami and a couple partial nuclear meltdowns got in the way.

Also on Fortune.com:
Videos: iPad 2 mania Down Under
Videos: iPad 2 lines in Europe, Canada
Video: Walking the longest iPad 2 line

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped.

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