If you want to go somewhere quaint and relatively unspoilt but want the comforts of a city, then journey down to Adelaide. Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia but feels more like a town and that only adds to its appeal. It has been making it to the list of the top 10 most liveable cities in the world in the last 2 years. The Lonely Planet Guide even ranked it as one of the top 10 cities to travel to in 2014.
I've lived in Sydney for over 20 years and up until the last few years I haven't been given many reasons to visit Adelaide. Up until a couple of my good friends from Sydney decided to defect to Adelaide that is. Of course, by then the reputation of South Australian wines and Maggie Beer's status as a foodie icon had already been established. There were also murmurs of small and interesting bars coming into the scene. So by the time my friends settled into their new home, I was primed and ready for Adelaide.
Being the driest city in one of the driest continents, I'm amazed that Adelaide is as green as it is. It has a lot of parklands, space and light thanks to its designer Colonel William Light who became the first Surveyor-General of the colony of South Australia in 1835. He surrounded the city with 690 hectares of parklands to provide clean fresh air throughout the city. He wanted wide streets so carriages could do a u-turn and to prevent fires from spreading like they did in London. The Colonel also wanted enough space between buildings so light could hit the ground and avoid the proliferation of slums so common in other European cities at the time. Talk about forward thinking.
Adelaide is a great place to explore on foot with quirky bars, street art and a wide selection of cuisines to choose from. Check out Leigh, Peel and Gouger Streets and Topham Mall.
I envy Adelaide for it's Central Market, a huge undercover market filled with wonderful fresh produce that make you want to run to the nearest kitchen and cook something up. It's abuzz with interesting and multicultural eateries. I couldn't believe how well we ate at Comida, this Spanish tapas bar serving freshly cooked paella, grilled mullet, tortilla and pan con tomate with jamon serrano. Sydney, when are we going to catch up? As much as I like Eveleigh markets, it doesn't hold a candle to Adelaide's Central Market. For starters, Adelaide's Central Market boasts 80 food stalls, is open 6 days a week and has live music on Friday nights.
Adelaide is so green you can even have a fine dining experience with the luminous field of Adelaide oval as your view at Hill of Grace restaurant (see separate post).
City of churches and highest homicide rates- these are two things Adelaide is reluctantly known for. Or, as The Age put it in 2002, "city of churches or city of corpses?" Well, apparently neither of those things is true. it's Melbourne that has the greatest number of churches per capita. One of our tour guides clarified that Adelaide is called the city of churches not because of the number of churches it has but because of the number of religious denominations among its residents. As for the homicide rates, the missing Beaumont children, bodies in barrels, the Truro murders - they've all helped paint Adelaide in a bloody light but it's actually Darwin that holds the highest body count.
Another big tick for Adelaide is you don't have to drive far to get to wine country like McLaren Vale (45 mins by car) and Barossa Valley (70 mins). Our foodie friends ensured we had a lovely experience of McLaren Vale by taking us to Primo winery, Willunga farmers' market (make sure you try the quiches and lavender-flavoured chocolates) and D'Arry's Verandah restaurant - all of which I would happily return to.
We explored Barossa Valley during our second visit to Adelaide. The meals looked really appetising at Maggie Beer's but we didn't eat there as we had lunch booked elsewhere. You can have a meal in or get a picnic basket to go. What I enjoyed there most was walking around the pond and seeing all the beautiful pheasant birds in the farm. Silly me didn't take photos of these golden plumed lovelies but I've posted a video on Instagram. We walked through the town of Tanunda and it has been seared into my food-addicted brain because of the fantastic meal we had at fermentAsian (see separate post).
Adelaide is still gradually shedding its old reputation of not offering very much but hopefully that might help keep it unspoilt for a little while longer.
Back to TOP