Once touted as the ‘City of Churches’, Adelaide is making a concerted effort to lose the pious tag and re-express itself as a creative, progressive destination with a kickin’ arts scene, fab restaurants and more bars than you could blitz in a year.
Sure Melbourne has the caffeinated laneways and Sydney brilliant beaches, but clean, cultured and classy Adelaide is a great, underrated alternative. Spread across the plains between hills and sea, South Australia’s capital is deceptively big – more than a million Aussies live here, sustaining a hyperactive artistic calendar, a slew of sassy bars and some world-class eateries. The city’s open-minded multiculturalism dates back to the 1840s, when European minorities fled old-world prejudices and colonised SA in the company of affluent free settlers. Highlights of your visit should include a daytrip plundering the foodie haunts of the Adelaide Hills, a tram ride down to beachy Glenelg, a morning detour through Central Market, and a few well-chosen bottles of vino from the surrounding Barossa Valley, Clare Valley and McLaren Vale wine regions. If your timing’s good, watch the Aussies thrash a cricketing lesser-light at the photogenic Adelaide Oval, or sip from the bottomless goblet of local festivals in a lush park.
Adelaide summers (December to February) are always sunny, but when the desert heat swoops down from the north the temp can top 40°C for days. Time your visit with spring or autumn when it’s clear skies, pleasantly warm days and plain sailing. The marvellous arts-centric Adelaide Festival (www.adelaidefestival.com.au), Adelaide Fringe (www.adelaidefringe.com.au) and WOMADelaide (www.womadelaide.com.au) festivals all happen in February to March. Unfortunately, so does the Clipsal 500 (www.clipsal500.com.au) car race – a four-day fuel-fest whipping local rev-heads into a salivatory frenzy.