OK, it’s about time that I got back to sharing my views on what to see and do in Australia for Global Grapevine. First up, a top five for Adelaide and the surrounding area. Imagine you have a long weekend to spend there; this is what I would have on my list to do! They are in no particular order and can easily be adjusted and adapted to your own personal tastes.
1. The South Australian Museum
An obvious one to start. First on the list at the tourist information but an excellent way to spend a few hours nonetheless. It provides a wonderful description and demonstration of both the natural and human history of South Australia.
There are beautiful displays of the Aboriginal heritage of the region, detailing the spiritual stories and culture of the people that have inhabited the area for thousands of years. The galleries of the biodiversity of South Australia highlights what a remarkable ecosystem exists here, and the minerals display highlights the geological significance of the state. They also have some Meteorite samples from an impact in the Gawler ranges. It is worth looking in advance to see if there are any temporary exhibitions on. Unlike the main museum, these have a fee for entry.
When I was in Adelaide the ANZANG Nature Photographer of the Year exhibition was on and was easily worth the $7 admission fee. I am falling in love with nature photography and this just highlighted why. Some of the stunning photos can be viewed on the SA Museum website. Also in and around the museum is the Art Gallery, worth a quick visit, and the impressive campus of the University of Adelaide.
2. The Adelaide Oval
Recently renovated, the Adelaide Oval is an impressive venue for both sport and music. If possible, I would recommend checking out what is on in advance and seeing if you can secure any tickets. It is set on the river, with numerous cafes and restaurants nearby but the stadium itself really steals the show.
They regularly host cricket, Aussie rules and occasionally proper football, as well as top international music artists. Unfortunately when I was there, I couldn’t actually get inside. There was a 45,000 sell-out to see an up-and-coming British band called the Rolling Stones! Check out what is on at the Adelaide Oval site.
3. Food and Drink
I’m cheating massively here. I could easily write a top five of food and drink activities to do in Adelaide so I’m grouping them together to keep it easy.
If this is your thing, Adelaide and South Australia are the place to go. In the city itself, the Central Market is a huge and sprawling tangle of primarily gourmet foods and drinks. You could spend hours and a small fortune here, tasting and buying the hundreds of products. Of particular note to me were the cured meats and cheeses, almost all of which are produced locally. Adelaide also has a blossoming night-life; and the wonderful rooftop bars and cocktail joints are the place to head.
On a warm evening, of which there are many in South Australia, there are loads of places to sit out and enjoy a beer or glass of wine. Ah, wine! Adelaide is within easy reach of some of the most highly regarded wine regions in Australia, if not the world. The most well-known of these is probably the Barossa Valley, famous for its big, bold reds. Catching up fast is the Clare Valley. Slightly hotter and drier than the Barossa, the wines from this region have a distinctly different taste to them. I spent a wonderful afternoon cruising the Riesling Cycle Trail through the Clare Valley, stopping at several vineyards on the way to sample at the free cellar doors. Just try not to fall off!
I would especially recommend Sevenhills Cellars and Mr Micks. Here you can even enjoy a tapas style meal accompanied by your favourite bottle. Finally, there is the McLaren Vale just 35 km south of the city. This is a younger and less well-known region but gets excellent reports from the locals I spoke to.
4. The Adelaide Botanic Garden
The centre of Adelaide is completely surrounded by open areas. Most of this is used for sports and recreation but in the north-east corner is the Adelaide Botanic Garden. I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours wandering through the twisting maze of paths, marvelling at the fantastic collection of indigenous and foreign flora. If you have an hour or two to kill with some nice weather, head here. You won’t be disappointed.
There are places to eat within the gardens and some really beautiful spots to relax and watch the world go by. There are some wonderful wild birds to see as well and feeding the ducks after a picnic always keeps children entertained, at least for a few minutes.
5. The Adelaide Hills
Adelaide is pinned against the coast by quite a high range of mountains, especially by Australian standards. Cycling up is a tough slog, but made easier by the excellent bike path up Mount Lofty. Take your time, and some water, and I think this is the best way to get out of the city.
In the Adelaide Hills there are some lovely little towns to explore and I would particularly check out the bakeries. I must have had 5 custard berliners in 3 days! If you are looking for a bit of a buzz I would recommend Hahndorf and Mount Barker. They both have plenty of nice cafes and restaurants serving the excellent local produce mentioned above. They are a little busy and touristy but it’s understandable. Who doesn’t love a sunny Sunday morning drinking great coffee outside a cafe with a bubbling atmosphere going on around you? Away from the hubbub, there are wonderful views as you explore through the smaller towns such as Nairne and Woodside, and vineyards are also popping up across this region.
So there you go; my top five. Have you been to the Adelaide region? It would be great to hear from you whether you agree or not. Get in touch with Global Grapevine to share your opinions and continue the conversation!