Phew it was so hot when I first arrived in Adelaide! I had been travelling all day except for a short break at a winery in the Adelaide Hills and an even shorter stay at the tourist centre of Hahndorf! It must have been one of the hottest days of the year at 45oC so once I had checked into my hotel on the lively Hindley Street in the heart of the city, I went to find a cool beer.
Just along the street I went in to The Black Bull which I discovered later was Adelaide’s first permanent hotel. The Bull operates as a restaurant and bar by day and turns into a nightclub at night for a much younger crowd of revellers than yours truly! It was early evening and the staff were amiable, so we enjoyed a couple of refreshing beers and a hearty meal for our first night in Adelaide.
The following morning my wife trotted off to have her nails painted and I went in search of culture! I was heading straight for the Museum of South Australia, but my eye caught a poster advertising an exhibition of national Press Photography at the nearby National Library so I went in to look around. There were some simply stunning and memorable images taken in Iraq and from a music festival in Melbourne.
Before leaving I walked across to the Mortlake Wing of the National Library. Opened in 1884 the library was recently described as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world alongside other grand libraries such as Oxford University’s Bodleian Library and Trinity College Old Library in Dublin. I was told by a guide that younger children are amazed as they enter the building thinking they may have travelled to Hogwarts School and entered Harry Potter’s library! It is certainly one of the best libraries I have had the good fortune to spend some quiet time in!
I was in Australia so I was very excited to go across to the South Australia Museum to view the Aboriginal Cultures Gallery. There are over 3000 objects and artefacts shown over two floors which celebrates and educates visitors about the cultural achievements of Australia’s Aboriginal people, one of the world’s oldest continuous living cultures.
The Aboriginal people have for thousands of years had to adapt to changing environmental conditions and the impact of European colonisation on their everyday lives and culture. I was fascinated by the wide- ranging collection of artefacts showing how the indigenous peoples have had to use creative and innovative ways to combat the harshest of conditions. The extensive collection included boomerangs, bark paintings, shields, maps, early recordings, photographs, field notebooks and some of the only intact bark canoes still known to be in existence. I came out of the galleries knowing a great deal more about aboriginal culture than I did when I went in! There was also a very light Museum café just to the left of the main entrance under a whale skeleton which we spotted for a quick bite to eat a piece of cake and a coffee. A welcome and much needed break.
Australia is a country of migration so next on our itinerary was a visit to the Migration Museum just around the corner. The buildings that now house the Migration Museum were once part of Adelaide’s Destitute Asylum. I found the section about the changing trends of migration very interesting. Apparently Chinese immigration into Australia has now surpassed that of British migrants. Much of its collection has been made through `migrants` donations who as part of the process records the ‘story’ of the item and any relevant material such as photographs and oral histories. This museum reflects the history of migration into Australia by the migrants themselves.
I was surprised to read that there was a referendum held in 1967, just 50 years ago, to decide whether the aboriginal people could be counted as citizens of their own land! Fortunately the Australian electorate decided that they could! Later that day I took a 25 minute tram ride down to Glenelg, a popular beach-side suburb with the usual assortment of café, bars and restaurants.
Sydney has taken my money, Melbourne has my respect, but Adelaide has taken my heart
The tram dropped me at the end of the line at Moseley Square, right next to the jetty from which young men were hurling themselves into the ocean despite notices telling them not to. Some young people were climbing high poles protruding from the water and then spinning backwards into the open sea. Such is youth! It was here that I saw my first aboriginal people, clustered around a bench drinking and being avoided and ignored by the passing crowds.
We visited the Adelaide central market the following day – what a fantastic feast of culinary delights! The multitude of stalls were packed with produce both local and international food & drink. We tasted a lot of sample foods particularly the cheeses and creamy yogurts. We bought a take away lunch from various stalls and strolled across to the cathedral of St Francis to sit in the shade to eat.
Despite the intense heat of the day I decided to walk up to the Adelaide Oval in the afternoon to watch some cricket. Not as big as the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) but it must be one of the most picturesque cricket grounds in the world. The stadium is used mostly for cricket and Australian rules football but it also hosts rugby league, rugby union, soccer, boxing and music concerts. I spent a couple of hours in the company of like – minded folk enjoying a relaxing beer and watching some cricket in the Australian sunshine.
Cricket friends have always told me that Sir Donald Bradman was the greatest batsman in the history of cricket so when I noticed The Bradman Collection at the Oval I went in to browse. Bradman had made Adelaide his home so this collection brings together his own priceless and personal collection of cricket memorabilia spanning from 1927 to 1977. It was an absorbing collection of personal items including cricket bats, balls, trophies and items of clothing. There were also some interesting snippets of video footage showing the great man in action.
Today I drove about 25 minutes South East of the city where it was little cooler and visited Cleland Wildlife Park. The 35-hectare park is a collection of large open enclosures which house free roaming kangaroos and wallabies giving visitors the opportunity to touch and interact with Australian native wildlife in a natural bush setting.
We fed the roos and wallabies strolling around at leisure in their enclosures. The Park is also one of a few places in the world where visitors can hold a koala but because of the heat that day visitors were not allowed to touch the koala or participate in an experience! We did get to see plenty of Koalas and the keepers also offered to take pictures up close of the koala with our own phones! A cool gesture.
There was also a very informative talk by one of the keepers about the Koala which increased my knowledge of this iconic marsupial ten – fold. I concluded my visit to this wonderful park with a well – deserved break at the comfortable cafe and souvenir shop. Afterwards we drove round to Mount Lofty for some spectacular views of Adelaide. I was able to pick out the Oval, the airport and the downtown skyscrapers of the CBD. A stunning viewing point for the city.
Most visitors to Australia miss out Adelaide. I spent four days in Adelaide exploring. I visited world class museums, feasted in a first class market, watched cricket in a world class stadium and enjoyed a tram ride out of the city to the beautiful seaside resort of of Glenelg. Dismissed even by many Australians as one of the countries most boring cities in the country. I found Adelaide to be a very interesting city full of life, culture, the arts, festivals and sport.
Before arriving in the city I took the time to explore a winery in the Adelaide Hills and visited the small town of Handorf. There is so much to do in Adelaide, I shall have to return.
If you are visiting Australia, schedule Adelaide into your itinerary, you will not regret it!
I shall have to return.
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I love Adelaide. It’s my hometown so I may be influenced but I’m back now for a break & it’s still fabulous!