Solar eclipse buzz grips Cairns and region
THOUSANDS of eclectic eclipse revellers are filing into Cairns as the hype continues to build around one of the most spectacular astronomical phenomena to come to the region.
NASA scientists, famous astronomers, celebrities and thousands of people from around the world have arrived ahead of the total solar eclipse on Wednesday morning.
An estimated 20 million viewers are expected to tune into the live webcast of the event that is being beamed from Cairns.
"We are seeing people coming to this event who have never been to this part of the world before," Tourism Tropical North Queensland chief executive officer Rob Giason said.
"I believe once bitten, forever smitten. It does give us a great opportunity to win new potential repeat visitors."
Mr Giason said the world's attention would be on the Far North and he didn't rule out celebrities coming to Cairns.
"We do know there are some real high-profile solar eclipse chaser celebs coming. Members of U2 and even Cameron Diaz have attended many eclipses in the past."
THERE has been high volume coming through the airport and the roads are pretty well patronised with vans all over the place. It's very visible to see the movement."
Well-known Australian author and scientist Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, Sunrise's Grant Denyer and Channel Nine weather presenter Steven Jacobs will also be making the trip north.
Local leaders were over the moon at the influx of eclipse-chasers.
"There is definitely a buzz about," Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said yesterday.
"It's one of those events you knew where you were when it happened. You will remember that day forever."
The solar eclipse will be a major economic boon for the Far North, with organisers estimating up to $75 million will be generated by the event.
Hotel owners and retailers say they too had seen an increase in customers, despite Monday being the most popular day for hotel check-ins.
Port Douglas Peppers Spa and Beach Club front office manager Andrew Berryman said he had already heard reports of road traffic.
"It's definitely a lot busier than it would be at this time of year," he said.
"The numbers are starting to increase already and I hear there is a lot of traffic on the road coming up this way.
"We are even getting phone calls from abroad and people are asking about the roads. There is definitely excitement in the air about it."
Meanwhile, weather forecasters say a definitive forecast for Wednesday's solar eclipse is due out on Monday.
According to weatherzone.com.au there is a 30 per cent chance of rain for Wednesday in Cairns and a 20 per cent chance of rain in the Tableland region.
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Sun fun: Tourists flock to Cairns for the total eclipse of the sun on Wednesday, including Veera Nikkilaa from Finland, Rachel Lund from Canada and Heli Koistinen from Finland. Picture: Marc McCormack