Some observations of Adelaide

Overall, a really nice place. Imagine the winelands, the Magaliesberg, Hilton, Pretoria and the Cape Town CBD all smooshed together into one relatively small area, and you have Adelaide. Granted, not every part of Adelaide is equally charming, and I wouldn’t call it spectacular. It’s just… nice.  It has frequently been described as boring, but that depends what you’re after. Not the most amazing spot  in the world to visit, but as a place to live, it appears to offer an excellent quality of life.

Wine is big here. Wine-making was revived in the Adelaide Hills during the 1970s, and there are several wineries right near the city. Further north is the Barossa Valley, famous for its reds. South Australia is a major wine-producing region (its other main agricultural activity is… you guessed it, sheep farming).

Wholesome family outing in the botanic gardens

Wholesome family outing in the botanic gardens

No hugely obvious disparities. Some suburbs are more equal than others, as this comparison shows. Still, we didn’t see any truly horrible neighbourhoods, or any particularly flashy ones. Yes, there’s a Porsche dealership and I noticed a few Evoques, but people in Adelaide mostly drive Mazdas, Hyundais and Toyotas. There seems to be less of a divide between rich and poor than in Sydney or Melbourne.

Great for cyclists. Not that I’m into cycling, but I noticed bicycle paths everywhere in the city and lovely trails into the Adelaide Hills, which offer beautiful scenery and interesting topography.

Not many young people. Which is a bit strange given that this is a city of no less than four universities. Presumably they were all on their Easter vacation.

No hipsters or bogans. Maybe they were also on vacation.

Motorists hoot if you hesitate for half a second. For such a small city with such wide roads, locals are surprisingly impatient. Hesitate at a green arrow and they’ll let you know all about it.

Shoppers in Hahndorf

Shoppers in Hahndorf

Hahndorf is lovely. This is the tourism epicenter of the Adelaide Hills. Looking for all the world like a German theme park, it was established by founded by Lutherans fleeing religious persecution, in 1839. I feel sorry for men in Hahndorf, who must pass the time drinking local beers and wines while their others halves get lost in the endless gift shops. (Some of them have seats for the men to wait while women browse.) Most of the restaurants offer sausage and other German specialties. I also got to sample the best strawberries I’ve ever tasted; like wine, they’re one of the specialties of the area.

We saw warning signs about car theft. The police were much in evidence on Saturday evening when we arrived, setting up road blocks for drugs and alcohol. But Adelaide has no high walls. In fact, the only electric fence I saw was in the dingo enclosure at the Cleland Wildlife Park.

View from Mount Lofty, the highest point in the Adelaide Hills

View from Mount Lofty, the highest point in the Adelaide Hills

It’s easy to get around. Adelaide is known as the 20 minute city, and we could see why. Everything’s within easy reach. Even the airport was quiet, well-laid out and pleasant, much like Adelaide itself.

If I’d had a couple more days, I’d have taken the ferry to Kangaroo Island.

There’s so much to see and do in this part of Australia. Few South Africans visit Adelaide when they visit Australia, but they’re missing out. Fly to Melbourne and drive along the Great Ocean Road the next time you’re out visiting your various scattered friends and relatives and you have a couple of extra days on your hands. My travel companion Chris, an ex-Capetonian, has lived in Sydney and Melbourne over the past five years, and he would definitely recommend it.


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