When I tell other Aussies I’m from Adelaide I usually get an unfavourable response. Sometimes people seem to think it’s a “City of Churches” and not much else. Sure the churches are pretty, but as a girl who has recently made the move from Adelaide to Sydney, I’m here to tell you, the city has so much more to offer. I want to shed some light on little old “Radelaide” and prove to all you sceptics that it’s definitely worth a visit.
Granted, it’s small (compared to say Sydney), but that is probably one of the best reasons to go. You can jump in a cab from Glenelg beach in the city’s West and be sitting in a quaint café in north Adelaide in about 15 minutes, for $10 tops. Everywhere is so quick, easy and cheap to get to that you can have an awesome holiday without obliterating your credit card.
Things to do
In the city itself, there are plenty of things to keep you entertained.
If you’re walking along North Terrace, you’ll notice these two giant whale skeletons in a window. They belong to the South Australian Museum that is a landmark in Adelaide. It’s FREE to visit and you can look at some pretty cool exhibits – from an Ancient Egyptian Room to the 550 million year old fossil (possibly the oldest ever found).
Adelaide City Bikes are FREE to hire between 9am and 5pm and are an excellent way to check out the city without spending a cent (go to www.cityofadelaide.com.au and follow links from “get around”). There are plenty of bike trails through the botanic gardens that run right through the city with plenty of lovely spots you can set up a picnic lunch.
Haigh’s Chocolate are considered one of the finest chocolate maker’s in Australia and are native to Adelaide. Their factory is on Greenhill Road in Parkside and their visitor centre is open weekdays. If chocolate is your thing, empty out your stomach before you go so you can taste-test their many mouth-watering products.
Home to over 1,800 animals exhibited in over eight hectares of lovely botanic surroundings, it’s worth visiting the Adelaide Zoo on Frome Street ($18 entry for concessions). I strongly recommend taking some of the many behind-the-scenes tours so you can get to meet and greet the animals.
Here you can buy delicious fresh produce direct from the, er, producer (cheaper than the shops). Located just off Victoria Square in the heart of the city, they are open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday you can grab and tasty cheap lunch and meet some of the locals at the same time.
Whether you are a clubber, a pub person, or a foodie there’ll definitely be somewhere for you come nightfall.
Open Friday and Saturday nights on Hindley Street (Adelaide’s “red light” district), Vodka Bar is a trendy bar and nightclub with six themed bars to cater for whatever mood you’re in.
One of Adelaide’s newest cocktail bars Distill (Rundle Street) is an awesome place to chill out, try some of their cocktails and mingle with the local celebrities, sports people and media and fashion identities (lar-de-dar).
I’d recommend visiting “The Grand” (Stamford Grand Hotel) in “The Bay” (Glenelg) on a Sunday night because it will be pumping. Old school music, cheap drinks, right on the beach – a perfect combination for a good night out.
The Archer Hotel (north Adelaide) is a great spot to while away some weekend hours, having a casual meal alfresco downstairs or experience some fine dining upstairs. Located on O’Connell Street, hit the pool tables or enjoy a pale ale in the beer garden.
Visit Unley Road’s Boho Bar for some live music and entertainment, good food, fortune telling, and just an all round different experience. Even just walking inside, you feel like you’ve stepped into the Moulin Rouge. Fun times.
Daytrips and How to Meet the Locals
If you are a bit of a Wino (I know I am), take a pretty drive to the Barossa Valley, Australia’s most famous wine region. Just over an hours drive from the city, I’d recommend spending the weekend there to sample some of the finest wines (not to mention food, bushwalking, golf and cycling) around in beautifully manicured vineyards.
Take the scenic drive (or cycle?) up to the historical German town Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills. It’s the ideal place to buy traditional wursts and German fare. There are also museums, galleries, soaps, fabrics, and a crazy leather shop, well worth checking out. After you take in all that, try a relaxing afternoon tea break at The German Cake Shop.
Take a short, 25 minute tram ride from the city centre to Adelaide’s most popular beach destination, Glenelg. There are charming walks along its sandy white coast, speciality shops and boutiques, brilliant places to fill your belly as well as dolphin swimming and whale watching. It’s a very popular spot with the locals who usually spend the day lounging on the beach and then moving to The Grand at night.
I have visited the lovely country town of Strathalbyn, about 40 minutes south of the city centre, loads of times. Why? Simply to breathe in the fresh country air, admire the High Street’s historic sites, (and yes, one is the gorgeous St Andrews Church!) go antique hunting and enjoy a hearty meal at one of the local pubs.
Meet the locals
The generally pretty chilled, laidback locals are worth meeting (most of the are friendly).
There’s a real football (as in Aussie Rules) culture in Adelaide (often coupled with lots of beer chugging) and most locals live and breathe AFL. Adelaide’s two teams are Port Adelaide and Adelaide Crows. You’re guaranteed to come across plenty at any of the matches that are frequently held at AAMI stadium in Westlakes.
The city’s “soccer” (Ed – she means football) team, Adelaide United are well supported too.
The Adelaidian’s love a good drink (or seven) so you will definitely find many of them in popular pubs around the city.
The Exeter and the Austral on Rundle Street, The Alma on Magill Road in Norwood, the Edinburgh hotel (the Ed) on High Street in Mitcham, and The Oxford on O’Connell Street are some to check out and share a cold one with the local peeps.
So there you have it. Next time you hear an Aussie bag Radelaide just remember what I’ve told you. I would seriously recommend it.
Wild side: Adelaide Zoo
ALEX HARMON, meanwhile, found her wild side (it wasn’t hard…)
Adelaide Zoo is a short walk from the CBD, making it one of the only city-based zoos in Australia. I imagine the animals are city slickers, fast-talking but pampered animals that know nothing of the tough outside world of the wild. But surprisingly, the zoo feels very natural… for a zoo anyway.
I went at sundown on a cold afternoon and wandered around with Mr Zoo Keeper himself, who was very excited to tell me about the Chinese pandas they have adopted. “Funi” and “Wang Wang” are the celebrities of the zoo and, like most celebrities, their one purpose in life is to mate and continue the precious bloodline.
The funny thing is, pandas only have one three-day window to mate each year. Three days! Talk about pressure. Funi wouldn’t want to have a headache. Until this period they are kept separate so they don’t develop a brother/sister-like relationship.
Unfortunately, this year they didn’t manage to get it on, so the zoo has to wait another year. There’s talk of using IVF if they’re unsuccessful again. I wonder if they just want to be friends and adopt some cats. Speaking of cats, the Sumatran tigers at this zoo are pretty impressive. They don’t pull the crowds that the pandas do, nor do they have the pimped out enclosures, but they are something to marvel at, they just look like they have so much pride.
Just as impressive are the giraffes, who tower above their fences looking out to the city skyline, probably mistaking the Adelaide GPO for one of their long-lost mates. I also like the meerkats, they are adorable the way they huddle together like a football team. I take a liking to the loner who doesn’t want to play along. I name him Carlos Tevez.
The sun is setting and the zoo keepers are cleaning up. The seals scoot around. The posh flamingoes, who look like they never get dirty, graze in their pens, while the sneaky crocodiles become one with their camouflage. This is the best time to see the animals as they relax into their surroundings. I walk out of the zoo happy, even happier when I realise the exit is not through the gift shop. That must be another Australian zoo first.