Watching a kangaroo bound past while crocs lurk in the nearby waters might not sound like that alien of an experience for Northern Territory residents, but if that happens in China it’s a whole other story.
Visitors to the massively popular Chimelong ecotourism theme park in Zhuhai, China may soon be getting a little taste of Northern Territory plants and wildlife - safari style. Asian Engagement and Trade Minister Peter Styles met with over 150 investors in Singapore, China, Hong Kong and Malaysia last week, but it was a meeting with Mr Su Zhigang, a high ranking businessman and founder of Chimelong, that got the ball rolling for the ambitious project.
The plan is to design and build a unique ‘Australia’s Northern Territory’ zone in the Chimelong safari park that will carry distinctive regional animals and vegetation plus an exhibition/education centre that showcases the Northern Territory’s natural environment and culture.
Mr Styles said, “Millions of Chinese tourists visit Chimelong facilities annually. The business model Chimelong has pursued with tourism is highly instructive and our talks centred on working with Chimelong to increase the relatively low percentage of Chinese tourists visiting the Northern Territory. From the park we will be able to promote visitation to the Northern Territory. It’s an exciting proposition from a tourism market that is expected to explode in coming years.”
So what would a visitor find to do in Australia’s Northern Territory? To be honest it would be a matter of prioritising, as there are so many stunning natural attractions. They could watch reclusive flatback turtles being born in the light of a full moon. They could visit rock carvings that date back tens of thousands of years. They could embark on a fishing pilgrimage along the Daly River. They could swim in the deep waterholes of Litchfield National Park. But perhaps one of the most underappreciated places in the Territory is Mary River National Park.
Just three hours drive from Darwin, it doesn’t draw crowds like the more famous parks, Kakadu and Litchfield, but that’s part of the beauty of it - what’s the point of getting out in amongst nature if you’re still surrounded by hundreds of people? Couzen’s Lookout campground is a secluded little spot to park up - only a stone’s throw from the lookout itself, where you have first class seats to spectacular sunsets. If a spot of fishing sounds like the perfect way to spend your time in the great outdoors, Shady Camp is a good option. Featuring a boat ramp and picnic areas, it boasts excellent views of the river along with the freshwater and saltwater crocodiles that call the Mary River home.
When you’re finally done with Mary River, you can head back to Darwin in less than a day… but you are on the doorstep of Kakadu National Park - it would be a shame to miss out the splendours of Kakadu when you’re so close. If you’ve picked up a Darwin motorhome rental, it’s the easiest thing in the world to jump back into your motorhome and head down the road for a new adventure. Whichever way you choose to go, there’s no denying the ease and flexibility of motorhome travel.
It won’t be long before thousands more tourists flood into Northern Territory, if the plans for the themed safari go ahead. It will be a massive boost for the NT economy and the world will get to learn how amazing this state is. But wouldn’t you like to beat the rush? Plan your Northern Territory experience today.
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