South Australia is like a supermodel who always insists on wearing tatty trainers, jeans and jumper. There are some extraordinary assets there, but they’re not widely seen or heard about. So it’s all the more rewarding for those who get to undr… Ahem. You get the idea.
SA has vast swathes of enchanting emu-terrorised desert, one of the most infamous stretches of Outback road, one of the strangest towns in Oz (if not the world), one of the continent’s finest islands (certainly for wildlife), the country’s best wine region and a city obsessed with throwing kick-arse festivals, not forgetting those cuddly great white sharks.
SA is well worth a visit if you’re half interested in any of the following:
1. Testing your palate (or just getting plain bladdered) in the Barossa Valley, Australia’s most famous wine region. Then soaking up the booze on your way home with a pie floater – Adelaide’s local speciality, a meat pie on a bed of mushy peas.
2. Exploring the endless expanse of the notorious Nullarbor Plain, a vast treeless area containing the world’s longest stretch of straight railway. Connecting Adelaide (more-or-less) to Perth, it’s one of Australia’s ultimate roadtrips. With Uluru and the enchanting red centre just over the border heading north, if there’s one state that screams out “ROADTRIP” this is surely it. The unsealed Oodnadatta track is another legendary epic.
3. But before you screech off into the sunset, hotfoot it to the Eyre Peninsula to see some beautiful, un-peopled beaches, dramatic cliffs and some truly magical snorkelling with sea lions. Or, if you prefer, with tuna (and we’re not talking panang curry-flavoured here).
4. Hop over to Kangaroo Island for a wild and windswept land of dunes, strange rock formations and forests packed with koalas, penguins, seals, snakes and, er, kangaroos. It’s like a zoo with no fences.
5. Take shelter in Coober Pedy. Most of the inhabitants of Australia’s surreal opal mining capital live underground to avoid the heat, giving the Outback town a post-apocalyptic feel. It’s been used in many films, such as Mad Max 3 and Pitch Black.
6. Head north for the vast Flinders Ranges, some of the oldest mountains in the world. In particular, Wilpena Pound is a vast natural basin. Quite a sight.
7. Lake Eyre too, is a vast salt lake – eerie and alluring, like another planet.
8. Kayaking and/or house-boating on the gi-normous Murray River.
9. If you prefer your nature-watching with bigger teeth, jump in a cage and go in search of a great white shark.
10. Adelaide. Sure, it’s not Paris or Rome, but it’s a likeable and very liveable, sun-blessed city, with a whole heap of festivals going on. Did we mention, they’re fezzie bonkers here. Talking of which…
Apparently Kate Moss was livid when she found out. And a suicide note has been found, penned by The Cure’s Robert Smith. Yep, Adelaide has a bigger fringe than both of them.
In fact, Adelaide Fringe 2011 (Friday 18 Feb to Sunday 13 Mar) is the largest arts event in the world’s lower hemisphere – only the Edinburgh version is bigger (but that’s full of Scots). Some folk know how to throw a world class fezzie. Them folk are Adelaide folk.
Streets will be closed off, stages will be erected, music will be pumping out of speakers and all sorts of over-enthusiastic face-painting will doubtless be applied.
The Fringe kicks off with the legendary Opening Night Party (Friday 18 Feb, 7pm-2am) on the closed-to-traffic East End streets, which’ll be awash with artists, roving performers (so jugglers then) and ‘risky’ outdoor theatre, before the two stages spark to life with live music from local, interstate and international acts.
The best news? The first night is all FREE. We like free. Over the next 24 days, the Fringe will play host to artists both homegrown and foreign doing crazy larks in numerous art-forms; body-art, acrobats, musicals, magicians, comedians as well as the Adelaide International Buskers Festival.
As if one monster fezzie wasn’t enough for one city to cope with, they’ve flung in the over-lapping WOMADelaide (March 11-14). Since you ask, WOMADelaide means World Of Music, Arts and Dance (plus Adelaide). In other words, it’s a joyous, mega-colourful celebration of world music.
For one long weekend the state capital will be buzzing with 400 artists from around the world, performing on seven stages in the Botanical Park. From Aussie folksters Angus and Julia Stone to Pakistani qawwali singers and Egyptian trance, plus the likes of Norman Jay and Horace Andy, there’s something for pretty much everyone.
We anticipate smiles aplenty, lots of clapping above the head and the odd lighter aloft (that’s still cool, right?). The festival is also carbon neutral. We like carbon neutral.
The damage & the details:
Many Adelaide Fringe events are FREE. Other events start at $10. Four-day pass to WOMADelaide is $295; three-day pass is $265, one-day and one-night pass is $150; one-night pass $105. For more info, visit www.adelaidefringe.com.au and