By Erik Crouch
Tiananmen gate courtesy of Wikimedia Commons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tiananmen_beijing_Panorama.jpg
Wyong Shire, a small town about an hour north from Sydney, has signed a construction deal to build a massive “Australian Chinese Theme Park” catering to Australians and Chinese tourists alike. Described by the town’s mayor, Doug Eaton, as a project that can “turn the Wyong Shire into a tourist mecca,” the park will feature a full-sized replica of the Forbidden City gates, and eight themed sections relating to Chinese history and culture.
The park will consume 15.7 hectares and include restaurants, a resort, and a panda exhibit for Children (although apparently with no pandas). Construction is set to begin in 2015 and finish by 2020, with the park costing $520 million to build and eventually employing up to 2,000 people. It may seem odd to picture a life-sized model of the Forbidden City gate ranking alongside the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge as Australia’s most recognizable landmarks, but Mr. Eaton promises that the park “has the potential to be among the biggest tourist attractions in the state [New South Wales].”