PERTH, Australia – Pagans and druids, mark your calendars and book your airplane tickets. An Australian entrepreneur hopes to open a Stonehenge replica by the Dec. 21 solstice, just in time for New Age revelers.
"I'm doing it because I can," said Ross Smith, the former owner of a successful microbrewery business who plans to build the monument on his property in Western Australia. "Nowhere in the world has a complete Stonehenge been built."
The $1.26 million project, to be called The Henge, will include 101 granite stones arranged in an inner and outer circle, a central altar, and will span 110 feet.
"I've studied plans of the original and that's what The Henge will look like," Smith said.
Unlike the original Stonehenge, guests will be encouraged to touch and play around the new monument, which will also have an interpretive center and a children's playground.
Smith called The Henge "a business venture." An entry fee will be charged and it will be hired out for weddings and other events.
He hopes his replica will attract 200,000 to 300,000 tourists per year to the Margaret River region, already renowned for fine wine, chocolate and cheese.
A small team of quarry workers in Western Australia has spent the past five months drilling and blasting the stones into shape, and Smith expects the attraction will be open by Dec. 21, the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere.
England's Stonehenge was created between 3,000 B.C. and 1,600 B.C. Today it is a major tourist attraction and has spiritual significance for neo-druids and New Age followers, thousands of whom gather there on June 21 each year to celebrate the northern hemisphere's summer solstice.