Exploring Australia's Chinatowns: from Bendigo to Broome

Golden Dragon Lotus in Bendigo, Victoria. PIC: Ewen Bell
Golden Dragon Lotus in Bendigo, Victoria. PIC: Ewen Bell

Australia is now the most popular country for first-time Chinese travellers, according to new research from Hotels.com. 

Chinese travellers are also spending more and staying longer – research shows Chinese tourists spent 40 per cent more in the last twelve months than the twelve months prior as they opt for lengthier vacations and more long-haul travel. 

Chinese millennials are driving the trend, according to a recent report from The Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM). Young Chinese travellers have increased their spend by a massive 80 per cent in their quest for edgy, exciting and unique travel experiences. 

But David Spasovic, Hotels.com Marketing Manager for Australia and New Zealand, says Australia has been slower to implement Chinese-friendly initiatives compared to the global market. Despite 2017’s China-Australia Year of Tourism, Australia was deemed just the fifth most welcoming country to Chinese visitors, down two places from the year previous. 

“The CITM report shows the Australian accommodation industry must keep up in order to stay connected to the Chinese audience, especially with Tourism Australia predicating Chinese travellers will make up close to half of Australia’s inbound tourism market by 2020,” Mr Spasovic says.

“We know from the CITM report Chinese travelers feel comfortable and most welcome in destinations when Chinese mobile wallet and QR code scan via WeChat is accepted, shop and hospitality assistants speak Mandarin, and there is signage they can understand.”

Chinese tourism is set to continue to boom well into the future, but towns and cities across Australia already enjoy a rich and vivid Chinese cultural influence, from delicious food to unique art, traditional music and much more. Here’s five of Australia’s most interesting, creative and tasty Chinatowns. 

Dai Gum San, Bendigo, VIC

Bendigo's Dai Gum San offers an incredible insight into Chinese art.

Bendigo's Dai Gum San offers an incredible insight into Chinese art.

The perfect destination for the history loving traveller, Bendigo’s Dai Gum Sun Chinese Precinct links the Golden Dragon Museum, Yi Yuan Gardens and Kuan Yin Temple together.

Want to learn more about the 1850s gold rush? Head to the Golden Dragon Museum – the cultural hub is filled with must-see pieces and covers the history of the Chinese people of Bendigo from the gold rush right up to present day.

While you’re here, make sure to visit Sun Loong, the world’s longest imperial dragon. It can be seen at the Bendigo Easter Procession or year-round at the museum.

The charm of yesteryear meets the comfort of a hotel at Alexandra Place, Bendigo.

The charm of yesteryear meets the comfort of a hotel at Alexandra Place, Bendigo.

Stay centrally in Bendigo at Alexandra Place to explore cultural offerings, just ten minutes walk from central Bendigo. 

Chinatown, Melbourne, VIC

Melbourne's vibrant Chinatown is situated in the heart of the city.

Melbourne's vibrant Chinatown is situated in the heart of the city.

Get ready to explore the bright lights of the city at Melbourne’s Chinatown – the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the western world. It’s a must-see during your Melbourne adventure, marked out by the famous red arches recently restored by the City of Melbourne.

The main archway was handmade in China according to traditional techniques and materials, and assembled in Cohen Place under the supervision of highly skilled Chinese craftworkers. 

Local and international visitors are drawn to Melbourne’s Chinatown throughout the year with a number of traditional festivals and activities in the calendar. Visitors can also wander through Tianjin Garden or the Chinese Museum for some peace and reflection.

If you’re looking to treat yourself, head to award-winning Cantonese restaurant, Flower Drum, for their signature Peking Duck or aromatic baked crab shell.

Rooms are stylishly furnished with views across the city at the Mantra, Melbourne

Rooms are stylishly furnished with views across the city at the Mantra, Melbourne

Visitors can stay right in the hustle and bustle of the Chinatown area at the Mantra on Russell.

Chinatown, Broome, WA

Broome's Chinatown is an eclectic street full of colour and sound

Broome's Chinatown is an eclectic street full of colour and sound

Broome has a fascinating and incredibly rich history that’s often overlooked when compared to state capitals. Broome’s Chinatown brings together the area’s rich history and local culture to create an exciting must-see spot in our nation’s North West.

Ever since pearling crews from China and Japan set up their camps and tin sheds back in the 1880s, Broome’s Chinatown has been the multicultural hub and heart of the region’s business, tourism, and leisure industries.

Chinese travellers are increasingly on the hunt for authentic local items and as Australia’s pearl capital, Broome is the perfect location to shop and search for jewels of the ocean, plucked straight from the depths of Broome’s stunning coastline.

Broome's idyllic Mangrove Hotel is the perfect island retreat, yet situated a short distance from the action.

Broome's idyllic Mangrove Hotel is the perfect island retreat, yet situated a short distance from the action.

Located within walking distance to the CBD, the Mangrove Hotel, Broome, is the ultimate base to enjoy all that Broome has to offer.

Chinatown, Sydney, NSW

The ornate gates that mark the entrance of Sydney's iconic Chinatown

The ornate gates that mark the entrance of Sydney's iconic Chinatown

Nestled in the southern end of the CBD you’ll find perhaps Australia’s most iconic Chinatown. In the 1980s, local Chinese businesses and the council worked together to revamp Chinatown into a celebration of Chinese culture that continues to attract visitors from far and wide.  

Let the neon lights of the Chinatown Night Market light up your Friday night – head down to Dixon Street Mall to explore the array of stalls along the market selling everything from sizzling street food to miniature backpacks. The markets also showcase a number of talented young artists, designers and students from the area whose work is inspired by their Asian heritage and culture.

While you’re in Chinatown don’t miss lining up for the famous Emperor’s Puffs. Don’t let the hole-in-the-wall shopfront fool you; these delicious custard puffs are the real deal – and at 35c a pop, are totally worth the wait.

Right in the hustle and bustle of Sydney yet quiet enough to relax, BreakFree is an ideal spot.

Right in the hustle and bustle of Sydney yet quiet enough to relax, BreakFree is an ideal spot.

Stroll to the Night Markets from your luxurious room at BreakFree on George

Chinatown, Adelaide, SA

Adelaide's Chinatown booms with foot traffic.

Adelaide's Chinatown booms with foot traffic.

Set amongst the lively streets of the city’s CBD, Adelaide’s Chinatown really sets the scene with pagoda roofs and traditional red lamps for a gram-worthy shot of you and the delicious dumplings you’ve just discovered.

A foodie’s paradise, the renowned destination is famous for world-class cuisine. Award-winning restaurants like Concubine on Gouger Street showcase the best of South Australia's food scene by fusing fresh local produce with flavours of the orient.

For party lovers, make sure you hit up the Lunar New Year street party for a night filled with live performances, bustling food stalls, local wineries, and even a traditional lion dance.

The Pullman is known for class, and Adelaide's is no exception.

The Pullman is known for class, and Adelaide's is no exception.

Stay in luxury at the Pullman while you explore the city of Adelaide.

Chinatown, Gold Coast, QLD

Get amongst the action (and heat!) in Chinatown, the Gold Coast.

Get amongst the action (and heat!) in Chinatown, the Gold Coast.

Part of the revitalisation of Southport as an international CBD for the Gold Coast, the Chinatown Street Markets are nestled in the heart of Southport and attract crowds from far and wide to share in the lively atmosphere, entertainment and live music.

Held on the first Saturday of each month, the markets are a celebration of diversity, culture, and of course – cuisine.

The Chinatown Street Markets are bursting with authentic cuisine from China as well as Malaysia, Japan and Korea, to name just a few.

All the way up and offering views that the Gold Coast is world-renown for at Meriton.

All the way up and offering views that the Gold Coast is world-renown for at Meriton.

To be amongst the action, base yourself at Meriton Suites Southport with an incredible view across the ocean.