Laura Day wonders why Adelaide often seems outshone by Australia’s more frequently visited cities… Home to the largest wine region in Australia, a sandy coastline stretching over 60km and a modesty from its locals not heard of in the bigger cities, Adelaide should be stiff competition for its popular counterparts. So why is it failing to top the tourist boards’ charts, losing out to the opera houses, tropical climates and cobbled streets found in its neighbouring states?
It is arguably Australia’s most overlooked city, but so-called ‘sleepy’ Adelaide needs to get the international market out of bed to realise the region’s appeal lies in its geographical snugness. Four destinations in one, it’s South Australia’s little gem, perfect for day trips and long stays with everything in convenient reach. Despite hosting some of the world’s largest events such as Tour Down Under, Adelaide Fringe Festival, and WOMADelaide, many would say it’s first in the running as Australia’s underdog. So, we decided to take a closer look at what Adelaide has to offer, and discover the satisfaction of this modest forgotten city of the South.
South Australia is proudly the wine capital of the country. Historically a German settlement, the Barossa Valley is home to more than 60 cellar doors, leaving you steeped in choice. The most recognisable gem to those who visit the Barossa is Jacob’s Creek, (sign posted, but blink and you’ll miss it), and it is rather novel to admire it in person and not off the supermarket shelf. We loved passing through the retreat of the Barossa, exploring the vineries and cellar doors to bask in the production and scale of South Australia’s red, white and fortified wines. If you fancy having more than just a taste, you can book yourself in for a cellar door tour and a night at a rustic cottage. here you can learn the sensory basics of smelling and tasting, match your favourite find with a local cheese or even concoct your own blend for a perfect take-home souvenir.
Picturesque and family-friendly, 80km south of Adelaide lies Victor Harbour in the Fleurieu Peninsula. Head here for stunning views, a fresh sea breeze and a sense of calm. Victor’s delightful horse-drawn cart from the Harbour to Granite Island offers a perfect trip for a family. Heading down the wooden causeway surrounded by blue water, the cart takes you to the island ahead. We walked around the rocky pathways and found breathtaking views of the harbour, and you can stay until dusk for its charming penguin tour. Never short of an event, Victor hosts a diverse range of musical shows, arts and crafts fairs, farmers markets and even a 50s rock n’ roll festival. With the coast being on the doorstep, you can expect to find a great catch of seafood restaurants and grills to finish off your day. It’s a fabulous place to while away a few days.
One trip through the Adelaide Hills and you’ll discover yet another element of beauty that Adelaide has to offer. Tree-filled landscapes, nooks and creeks and historic towns are prevalent in the East, giving Adelaide an entirely different feel to the cosmopolitan buzz of the city. The quaintest of them all is Hahndorf, the oldest surviving German settlement dating back to 1837. Crammed with cafes, craft shops, bakeries and German small good outlets, there’s plenty to look at and be inspired by in this little township. Savour the sweet local jam produce at Beerenberg Farm where you can pick your own, or revel in some traditional German fare at the Hahndorf Inn which offers a range of beers and a traditional German menu. While Down Under, you’ll want to experience the local Australian wildlife, and here you’re in the right place. Head to nearby Cleland Wildlife Park for all your furry Australian needs and pat a koala, get cosy in the grass feeding a kangaroo, or pay those pesky emus a visit.
When you think Australia, you think beaches. Adelaide’s unique selling point is that you can watch the sun set over the beach, unlike it’s sandy counterparts in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney. For the the hip and trendy coastline choice, catch the tram from the city to Glenelg. Popular with young crowds and professionals, you can indulge in the cafe culture and cosmopolitan shopping along Jetty Road, set up with supplies at one of the nearby parks and have a barbecue, or take the last of the old-fashioned trams across the town. A similar feel resides up the road at Henley Square, which is filled with restaurants and cafes, sea views and another large beach so you can enjoy the unique and wonderful dry Australian heat. And of course, watch the sun set.
And then there’s the City itself. Besides shopping, eating, and grabbing some of the finest coffees, you can do a lot more in Adelaide city than meets the eye. If you’re interested in learning about Australia’s aboriginal culture, visit the Tandanya Museum and be amazed by the visual arts, heritage and history of the Aboriginal people. For those with a sweet tooth, book in for a free tour around the Haigh’s chocolate factory, or if you feel you can soak up some more culture, spend a few hours on North Terrace, the city’s cultural quarter housing the Art Gallery of South Australia and the Museum of South Australia. For film lovers, be sure to check out listings at Mercury cinema, a buff’s haven that plays seasons of oldies and classics. For winding down, we found that a walk along the River Torrens was perfect, or take the Popeye cruise and relax on the river and feast on the lush surrounds.
Adelaide is a great destination all year round but summer can be uncomfortable if you’re not used to high temperatures, with peaks getting up and around 37 degrees and beyond. The summer season is from December to March. We feel that the city’s best month is March, with a bulk of festivals and sporting events to choose from and keep you busy. Laura Day