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Shaolin's first temple outside of China to be built in Australia

2015-March-26       Source: Xinhuanet.com

After more than 1,500 years in existence, Dengfeng's revered Shaolin Temple is to soon start building its first international outpost in Australia.

After more than 1,500 years in existence, Dengfeng's revered Shaolin Temple is to soon start building its first international outpost in Australia.

The renowned Buddhist retreat and kung fu school have completed eight years of complex negotiations with local governments in New South Wales to establish a site for the new temple.

The 380 million Australian dollar ($296 million) resort will be constructed in pristine wilderness at Comberton Grange in Jervis Bay, 200 kilometers south of Sydney.

It will be centered on more than 2,000 hectares of purchased forest land which China's Shaolin Temple, currently led by abbot Shi Yongxin, paid 5 million Australian dollars ($3.9 million) for.

It will truly be a wilderness retreat with a glorious marine national park a few kilometers away.

The temple site resides in the Shoalhaven Shire, named after a majestic river which flows through the lush rural area.

The temple is fully supported by mayor Joanna Gash, who spoke to Xinhua at her office.

"Eight years ago the abbot came to the Shoalhaven," she said. " He was very taken with the spirituality of the land, the people here, the location and he had good visions as to what he could build here. It has taken eight years to today to come to fruition.

"His plan is certainly for a temple, a Shaolin temple, the first Shaolin temple to be built in Australia outside of China. It will have a kung fu academy, it will have a health and wellness center and it will also have a hotel as well. So there are many things to be built there, many things to attract people to come to the area. But basically we're very happy and delighted that we have been chosen to be the first temple outside of China in Australia."

It will be a center for cultural sharing as well as kung fu and well-being.

"Certainly the feature of the kung fu academy will be very much to the fore, but also the educational and wellness areas," mayor Gash said.

"The medicine, the wellness, you go can go to the temple, you can have a meal there, you can visit. Those are the sort of things people will be able to do. The cultural exchange for this area will be very beneficial. The Chinese people want to know about Australia and the Australian people want to know about the Chinese. And that's one of the things that we'll be very heavily promoting. "

"I think it will be a worldwide market. It's not just for our city here, it's a regional basis, it's an Australian basis and I'm quite sure it will be an international, worldwide basis as well."

In a region of high unemployment, the economic benefits will be a major positive. It is expected around 1,000 jobs will be available for the construction of the project alone.

"Certainly over and above the initial 380 million dollar development costs the estimates are around 65 million dollars per annum into the local economy, which is huge," said Steve Lawson, the local tourism chief.

Tourism is the second biggest money earner in the Shoalhaven Shire and employs 6,500 people. It is an area where lush mountains meet the sea across fields filled with dairy cows, and many people live there for its beauty, even if work is hard to find.

The temple resort will offer employment opportunities which fit into the lifestyle of the local community which is already geared to welcome tourists.

"The hotel itself is estimated to post some 90,000 people a year and that in itself is just part of the 300,000 people that it is estimated to visit the temple each year, and we'd like to extend an invitation to all of those people to come and experience Shoalhaven outside of the temple while they're here," Lawson said.

Besides extensive bushwalking tracks, Jervis Bay has much more to offer. It is renowned for its majestic marine beauty, crystal clear waters and beauty. It is a scuba diving haven as well.

"It is one of Australia's most pristine natural icons," said another tourism representative Catherine Shields.

"It is a world-famous heritage marine park. It has some the whitest sands in the world, some of the cleanest water and some of the most beautiful scenery. There's also wonderful pods of dolphins. People who visit the temple can go on whale watching cruises and they can see all the beautiful marine life on various cruise boat operators."

There have been local objections to the temple, as usual when something big and new is planned for small communities which resist change. The concerns were more about the development process than the actual project, but mayor Gash said the end result has been sound.

"There have been many millions of dollars going into the planning exercise for this project before we could even put a shovel into the ground. They have certainly done their homework, and it has taken years of planning."

That first shovel will soon begin digging to see a new era created in the 1,500 year old history of China's Shaolin Temple. And it will spread and share culture between two countries who have become firm friends.


Editor: Will

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