- Skyscrapers, spires and sandstone
- City life
- Arts, parks and festival larks
Once touted as the ‘City of Churches’, Adelaide is making a concerted effort to lose the pious tag and re-express itself as a creative, progressive destination with a kickin’ arts scene, fab restaurants and more bars than you could blitz in a year.
Sure Melbourne has the caffeinated laneways and Sydney brilliant beaches, but clean, cultured and classy Adelaide is a great, underrated alternative. Spread across the plains between hills and sea, South Australia’s capital is deceptively big – more than a million Aussies live here, sustaining a hyperactive artistic calendar, a slew of sassy bars and some world-class eateries. The city’s open-minded multiculturalism dates back to the 1840s, when European minorities fled old-world prejudices and colonised SA in the company of affluent free settlers. Highlights of your visit should include a daytrip plundering the foodie haunts of the Adelaide Hills, a tram ride down to beachy Glenelg, a morning detour through Central Market, and a few well-chosen bottles of vino from the surrounding Barossa Valley, Clare Valley and McLaren Vale wine regions. If your timing’s good, watch the Aussies thrash a cricketing lesser-light at the photogenic Adelaide Oval, or sip from the bottomless goblet of local festivals in a lush park.
For a real local speciality though, try the ‘Pie Floater’, which is becoming increasingly hard to find. Basically what’s involved is a meat pie floating in a bowl of mushy peas, topped with mashed potato and gravy – a schoolboy throwback to the old country.
- There are licensed taxi ranks across the city or you can easily flag one down in the street. Reliable operators include Adelaide Independent Taxis (13 22 11), Suburban Taxis (13 10 08) and Yellow Cabs (13 22 27).
- Tipping culture
- Like elsewhere in Australia, tipping here isn’t mandatory, but add on 10 per cent in restaurants and cafés if you rated the service. Round taxi fares up to the nearest dollar.
- Siesta and fiesta
- Local shops and banks open 9am–5pm Monday to Friday; many stores also open 10am–4pm on Saturdays with limited Sunday trading. Cafés usually whip up breakfast and light bites from around 8am–4pm. Restaurants generally serve lunch noon–2.30pm, and dinner 6pm–9pm. Pubs open 11am–12 midnight; bars trade from around 5pm and close late.
- Packing tips
- Bring a sun hat if you’re going to the cricket at the Adelaide Oval (www.saca.com.au) or a woollen beanie if you’re watching the Adelaide Crows play football (www.afc.com.au). Take sunscreen in summer, too, as South Australia’s capital can be a scorcher.
- Recommended reads
- All Things Bright and Beautiful: Murder in the City of Light by Susan Mitchell undermines Adelaide’s snobby social hierarchies, questioning how the infamous Snowtown murders could have occurred on the fringe of this civilised town. Set in Adelaide, Knitting by Anne Bartlett tells a tale of friendship between two women who stop to help a stranger in distress.
- Adelaide may seem rather Caucasian culturally, but there’s no shortage of great international eateries here. European immigration in the 1950s launched fine Mediterranean cuisine in the city’s culinary lexicon, with more recent arrivals from Asia seeding a host of affordable Indian, Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants across town. The main eat-out arteries are Rundle and Hutt Streets in the East End (think cafés, pizza and pub-grub) and Gouger Street in the West End, fronting onto Adelaide’s Chinatown and the superb Central Markets. The McLaren Vale, Barossa and Clare Valley vineyards are also close by – nirvana for wine lovers.
- Australian dollar (AU$).
- Time zone
- GMT + 9.5.
- Dialling codes
- Country code: +61; South Australia: 08 (drop the 0 if dialling from outside Australia).
- Do go/don't go
- Adelaide summers (December to February) are always sunny, but when the desert heat swoops down from the north the temp can top 40°C for days. Time your visit with spring or autumn when it’s clear skies, pleasantly warm days and plain sailing. The marvellous arts-centric Adelaide Festival (www.adelaidefestival.com.au), Adelaide Fringe (www.adelaidefringe.com.au) and WOMADelaide (www.womadelaide.com.au) festivals all happen in February to March. Unfortunately, so does the Clipsal 500 (www.clipsal500.com.au) car race – a four-day fuel-fest whipping local rev-heads into a salivatory frenzy.
Don't go home without...
... sipping a cold schooner (or four) of the Adelaide-brewed Coopers Pale Ale (www.coopers.com.au).