South Australia

Adelaide

Adelaide.  The ‘capital’ of the state of South Australia, which as it suggests is in the south of Australia.  But, not the south.  Melbourne and Victoria and of course Hobart in Tasmania are further south, but I digress.   For so long considered a bit of backwater in Australia and it is fair to say that it probably still is by many and without doubt lives in the shadow of Sydney, Melbourne and probably even Perth which is the booming city in the far west of Australia, funded by the minerals that have help to fund the rest of Australia during the times that have kicked the economies of other western nations in the backside.  But yes, they do have bankers in Australia, of course they do.

But, for 2014 the respected Lonely Planet named Adelaide as one of the top ten cities to pay a visit to.  Ninth out of ten actually.  I’m sure that has upset the bigger, brasher cities but let’s be honest.  Sydney has the iconic (post war) bridge and a (somewhat ugly) Opera house as its icons but is otherwise fast turning into an overpriced Los Angeles of the south pacific.  I have been and I have no real desire to go again unless I have to.  Melbourne, well, I do like Melbourne but to me it is a kind of mini London with trams.  The local weather forecaster on TV annoying calls it the “beautiful city by the bay” but if you were in and around Melbourne, you would be hard pushed to conclude that it was anywhere near any bay.  Even though it actually is.  And as for the Gold Coast.  Think Benidorm.

Do not get me wrong here.  I love Australia.  I do not do favourites.  I don’t have a favourite food, drink or Stock Car track.  But I have those I like and maybe even love.  And I’ll confess that on a trip to Australia perhaps, perhaps Adelaide would not have been my first choice of places to visit.  I did travel there in 1999 when I was backpacking and thought it was a nice gentile city but really didn’t not spend long enough there or see enough of it to make a proper decision.  Plus, when you are 21 you look at things differently in any case.

But to Adelaide it was.  There was a reason why Kirsty and I headed off to South Austrailia for what could b considered a short trip, but more on that another time.  But whatever the outcome, what we found we fell in love with.  It is very easy to see why LP have come to their conclusion.   A lovely, well planned city (only planned and largely built in the 19th century, hence the name from the then King William’s wife, Queen Adelaide) with wide streets all surrounded by the Lofty Ranges.  Beyond them is the Barossa Valley which is wine producing mecca.  If you ever wondered where such iconic bottles such as ‘Jacobs Creek’ and ‘Wolf Blass’ came from then it is there.

The city more or less on a long thin and flat strip, and plain in front of the Ranges (which reach 2000 feet) and the beaches stretch along its sea strip.  I’m not talking about small beaches either.  Safe beaches with white sand.  The most famous is Glenelg, which is made to look like a traditional British type seaside resort (but because it is simply better, suffice to say it doesn’t look like one – alas Eastbourne it aint) but there are beaches all along such as West Beach, Henley and yes, there is a Brighton too.

Really, in short conclusion Adelaide is Australia’s best kept secret.  Part of me wants to sell it to the world, puts its colours to a flag and fly it high.  Then another part of me wants it to stay as it is with light traffic, easy to hand free parking spaces, wonderful empty and clean parks and of course those beaches that are pretty much yours.

When I look at the utter Tony Blair induced mess that Britain has become in the 14 years since I first visited Adelaide, somehow I doubt it will be that amount of time before I visit this wonderful little city again...  At least I hope not.

This beach, West Beach, is just a few miles from the Adelaide CBD!
Again, just a hop and a skip (with no Aussie Kangaroo pun intended) away from the centre of Adelaide, this is a park in North Adelaide
Now this IS a Vineyard.... The famous Jacobs Creek in the Barossa Valley which is only 90 minutes drive from the centre of Adelaide
Hallet Cove, Adelaide
The Old Gum Tree, where the Provence of South Australia (as it then was) was proclaimed for Great Britain in 1836 in what is now Glenelg, a seaside suburb of Adelaide
Gorge Wildlife Park where you can hold a Koala!
Morphetville Racecourse in Adelaide's suburbs. Our visit was on Melbourne Cup day.
No not Fiji. Not The Maldives. This is Adelaide...
Australia's best kept secret...