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Adelaide is a sunny, vivacious state capital that relishes good living. It’s about fine food, beautiful surroundings, full-blooded sports and festivals that challenge and delight. Get ready to discover the nation’s gourmet capital, described by the New York Times as the ‘culinary hub of Australia’. Whether you’re dining on an inner city ‘eat street’, beside a beach or on a hilltop overlooking the state capital, you’ll find chefs displaying real international savvy, creative flair and a true love for only the finest local ingredients. Adelaide enjoys sublime natural surroundings, flanked by the gorgeous Mount Lofty Ranges and calm gulf waters. So real outdoor living is never far away: from the city’s centre it’s just 20 minutes to blue shallows and golden sand – or 20 minutes to reach the Adelaide Hills, a haven of villages, cool climate vines, thick bushland and native wildlife. Yes, Adelaide is your gateway to Kangaroo Island wildlife, the Outback and famous wine regions. But when you discover a city that satisfies the tastebuds, the mind and the soul, you won’t want to leave in a hurry. From January to March, the city revs up for a slew of summer festivals and sporting events, including the ‘Tour Down Under’, a UCI Pro Tour cycle race, the world’s second largest Fringe festival, the WOMADelaide world music event, the Clipsal 500 V8 Supercar race and the renowned biennial Adelaide Festival of Arts, literally turning the city into a world stage.
The earliest surburbs of Adelaide and North Adelaide were built in 1837 to a visionary pattern of civic squares and boulevards. Today, this central area of the city is still noted for its wide, gracious streets and interesting mix of triumphal sandstone edifices, contemporary glass/steel structures and humble settler’s dwellings. But what really sets the inner city apart is the fact it sits in a sea of green parklands – an astonishing 1,000 acres of very valuable real estate given over to botanic gardens, soothing river scenery, a beautiful Victorian zoo, century-old olive groves, bushland, sporting grounds and playing fields. Visitors find central Adelaide elegant and charming. It has a proliferation of trees and flowers and a remarkable number of Australian heritage buildings, many of them still housing valuable collections of art, natural history, books and historic treasures. Together with the large student population and the tranquil River Torrens, it’s not surprising that comparisons are sometimes made with Cambridge in the UK, Boston in the US and Christchurch in New Zealand – but this is to overlook the sunny Mediterranean climate and a lively pavement café culture that reaches into all corners… You’ll be amazed how easy it is to explore Adelaide, and how safe and comfortable you’ll feel. No attraction is too far from another, in fact, the city provides free bike hire, free tram/bus travel within the central business district, and some of the most beautiful walking trails you could wish for.
The gateway to the migrants who built Adelaide, Port Adelaide has a rich and interesting maritime history as well as a handsome collection of period architecture. Today, this traditional working suburb is undergoing substantial changes, with major waterside developments bringing new investment and new perspectives to the area. The Maritime Museum puts the Port in context and offers lighthouse tours plus a chance to see the famous Port River dolphins. Nearby Garden Island is home to at least 25 wrecks, many of them showing above water: a three-hour Blue Water kayak tour will have you gliding among the old bones while hearing stirring sea stories. For a real Port flavour, don’t miss the 1855 Port Dock Hotel, still serving its home-brewed brands of ale.
Adelaide enjoys a huge number of clean, white, sandy beaches. But its jolliest seafront is undoubtedly Glenelg – a beach ’burb with more than a little English flavour. Fronting the sand is an historic town hall, a string of hotels and numerous waterside distractions including a contemporary take on the seaside funfair called the ‘Beach House’. A new marina and foreshore development provides gleaming new wine bars and restaurants and a place for people to park their expensive watercraft. Of course all eyes are turned towards the sea – sometimes to the Temptation Sailing catamaran that takes people out to swim with dolphins, or the very manic Hel-a-va Jet boat that throws adventurers over the waves at very great speeds. Glenelg is ideally reached by the tram used by both commuters and visitors. It terminates in the thick of the action on Jetty Road, a colourful collection of bars, restaurants, cafés and shops. Of course the beaches stretch away to the north and south of the city, all with their own characters and attractions. Yours to explore and enjoy…
The Adelaide Hills are a heavenly revelation – striking highlands of cosy hill towns, dramatic bushland, rich pasture and bucolic ‘corduroy’ vistas of vines on rolling vales. Stirling is the dress circle town where wealthy Adelaide residents had their summer residences. Today, its intimate, leafy streets are where you can sit out to enjoy great coffee, breakfasts and lunches; the newly renovated pub is an especially chic retreat. Bridgewater is home to a real ‘Hills pub’ plus the famous Bridgewater Mill — regarded as one of Australia’s finest restaurants. A walking trail next to the Mill’s steel waterwheel will take you deep into the bushland of Mount George.
A little further into the Hills and you’re in the home of some of Australia’s best producers of Sauvignon Blanc, including Shaw+Smith and Nepenthe; Hahndorf Hill and The Lane Vineyard both serve gourmet food and drink on elevated decks. And so to a true cultural curiosity – Hahndorf, the German-style village where you can see original 1830’s stone buildings built by the Silesian settlers, buy everything from beer-steins to hand-made knives, and occasionally hear German spoken in an obscure local dialect. Nearby is The Cedars, the original house, gardens, studio and artworks of one of Australia’s most celebrated artists, Sir Hans Heysen. A truly serene place. On the way back to Adelaide, don’t miss Mount Lofty Summit: standing at over 710m (2300ft), you’ll enjoy views over the city, the Fleurieu Peninsula and Gulf St Vincent, sometimes as far as Kangaroo Island.