Here's How Australia’s Wild Outback Is Being Prepared For The Highly Anticipated Chinese Tourist Boom
The night air appears to be still, though it seems to cling only to the lingering heat of Australia's dry Outback landscape. Walking in the darkness, a group of travelers decides to turn their heads to the sky. As soon as they realize that they are caught off guard, they start frantically pointing upwards. A chorus ensues as they exclaim in Mandarin at the beauty of the starry night that blankets this remote part of the world after dark.
Just over 300km from the nearest major city in Australia's remote Northern Territory, people are dwarfed by the dazzling spectacle. A person rushes to open a stargazing app on his phone. Positioning it overhead to capture the glistening expanse, he can spot various constellations - the same celestial formations that have guided Aboriginal people in this part of the world for tens of thousands of years.
Recently, though, it is all about the show for this awestruck bunch of Chinese and Hong Kong tourists as they soak up their final night in the Kakadu National Park, South China Morning Post reports.
"In Hong Kong, we cannot see the stars at night time, but here we can," says 10-year-old Oscar Zheng Cheuk-hang. "In Hong Kong, it is polluted and grey."
This is also true of many large cities in China, such as Shenzhen, an industrial metropolis across the border from Hong Kong where most of the group of 11 live.
Unlike the big cities where most of its visitors come from, this part of Australia does not have to deal with pollution or, indeed, overpopulation - unless people want to count the wetlands teeming with crocodiles, barramundi, bird life, and buffaloes.
The Northern Territory, known simply as the NT, is a land of extremes. From the sprawling deserts of the "Red Centre" to the lush, tropical "Top End" full of waterfalls and endless floodplains, it's a wild place even for Australians to visit. The NT is Crocodile Dundee country; the land romanticized in Baz Luhrmann's Australia; the final frontier.
Regarding land mass, the NT is almost the same size as Mongolia, yet it is home to just 210,000 people. Most of them live in the northern port capital of Darwin, which can only be described as a big country town. It is a far cry from the heaving city of Shenzhen which, while smaller in size than Darwin, has a population of 12.5 million, Yahoo! News reports.
"It is totally different to China. It is really natural. The area is sacred and the view is so beautiful," says Max Wen Bing, 57, from Shenzhen, of the Kakadu National Park. "You feel at peace here."