Adelaide is a gracious city and an easy place to live, and despite its population of around one million, it never feels crowded. It's a pretty place, laid out on either side of the Torrens River, ringed with a green belt of parks and set against the rolling hills of the Mount Lofty Ranges. During the hot, dry summer the parklands are kept green by irrigation from the waters of the Murray River, upon which the city depends, though there's always a sense that the rawness of the Outback is waiting to take over.
The original occupants of the Adelaide plains were the Kaurna people, whose traditional way of life was destroyed within twenty years of European settlement. After a long struggle with Governor John Hindmarsh, who wanted to build the city around a harbour, the colony's surveyor-general, Colonel William Light, got his wish for an inland city with a strong connection to the river, formed around wide and spacious avenues and squares.
Postwar immigration provided the final element missing from Light's plan: the human one. Italians now make up the city's biggest non-Anglo cultural group, and in summer Mediterranean-style alfresco eating and drinking lend the city a vaguely European air. Not surprisingly, one of Adelaide's chief delights is its food and wine, with South Australian vintages in every cellar, and restaurants and cafés as varied as those in Sydney and Melbourne.
Adelaide may not be an obvious destination in itself, but its free-and-easy lifestyle and liberal traditions make it a fine place for a relaxed break on your way up to the Northern Territory or across to Western Australia.
A statue of Adelaide's founding father, Colonel William Light , stands atop Montefiore Hill and gazes proudly across the city he helped to create. Below him rolls an expanse of attractive green parkland, resplendent with rose beds, peppered with trees and dominated by the ivy-clad Adelaide Oval . To the rear of the cricket ground lies lazy Torrens Lake, its southern foreshore replete with grand bluestone buildings that contrast starkly with white concrete extrusions of the Festival Centre . Further south, modest towers mark the heart of Adelaide's central business district, while to the east a corrugated line of hills defines its inland boundary. To the west, the coastal plain slips gently away into the rich blue waters of St Vincent's Gulf.
So it is easy to see why there should be a flicker of pride on Colonel Light's weathered face. It is also wholly appropriate that the city of Light should become the city of churches mighty St Peter's Cathedral lays testament to that. However, as all Adelaidians know, there is much more to their captivating city than things ecclesiastical. In modern day Adelaide, festivals, food and fine wine are just for starters.
The City Center
Despite these enlightened days of metrication, Adelaide's central business district still measures exactly one square mile. And it is packed with goodies, all within easy walking distance of each other. This is especially true along North Terrace, where there is ready access to the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Adelaide Casino plus the imposing granite and marble Parliament House building. Moving east, grandiose buildings queue for attention the State Library , South Australian Museum , Art Gallery and Ayers House (the mansion of Sir Henry Ayers, an early state premier who later had a very large rock named in his honor). Further along North Terrace, the weary wanderer can relax amidst the blooms and flowering shrubs of Adelaide Botanic Garden .
Shoppers flock to the ever-festive Rundle Mall , historically the first traffic-free shopping mall in Australia. Many of the big retail players can be found here, as can a variety of street entertainers. The Mall leads eastwards onto Rundle Street, which throbs with a cultural mix of diners and thirsty pub-goers. It is also the primary venue of Adelaide's Fringe Festival . Across the eastern parklands from Rundle Street lies the fashionable inner city suburb of Norwood with its ever-popular dining precinct, The Parade.
Shoppers in search of bargains, or simply fresh herbs and vegetables, head for the Central Market and Chinatown. Neighboring Gouger Street is alive with yummy restaurants; Asian, of course, plus a wealth of other cuisines. In the heart of the city stands the symbolic fountain of Victoria Square . A handy landmark for several hotels, the square also provides a terminus for Adelaide's only tram, which trundles its way to the beachfront at Glenelg.
Both the city and elegant North Adelaide are isolated from the surrounding suburbs by a leafy moat of parklands . A jewel in Adelaide's crown, this "figure-of-eight" greenery enhances a unique and enviable lifestyle for city-dwellers. It is small wonder, therefore, that some of the state's grandest homes grace the streets of North Adelaide. Along O'Connell Street lies the lure of many fine restaurants, with pavement dining under lacy iron verandas a specialty.
Port Adelaide & District
The generously wide streets, sturdy stone buildings, and uncompromising wharf side warehouses tell tales of a proud and historic past for Adelaide's ocean port. The plethora of street-corner pubs also suggest that this history has been amply laced with rum and brandy! Port Adelaide lies less than half an hour's drive north west of the city and today it remains a modest working port. Tourism through Port River cruises, Sunday markets, twee cafes and informative museums such as the excellent Maritime Museum fuel the local economy. The region as a whole is a fascinating mix of heavy industry, recreation and residential boom, exemplified by the award-winning West Lakes residential development.
The Coastal Fringe
Spanning nearly 70 kilometers north to south, the Adelaide coastal fringe runs from North Haven marina to the sumptuous white sands of Sellicks Beach . Whether viewing or doing, there is beachside fun a plenty. Not to mention sunsets to die for! Explore Adelaide's maritime heritage around Semaphore, follow discerning diners to Henley Beach or enjoy the hive of activity and history at Glenelg.
When there is a swell in the Gulf, knowing surfers head for the mid-south coast, while sail-boarders test their skills off Seacliff Beach . Even nude bathing is catered for on this eclectic coast. Just grab a towel and head for Maslin !
The Adelaide Hills
Rising around the eastern rim of the coastal plain, the Adelaide Hills offer a favorite fresh air treat. Delightful forests of stringy bark gums carpet many slopes, while in Belair National Park , and conservation parks, such as Scott Creek, Cleland and Warrawong Sanctuary , native flora and fauna abound. So watch out for kangaroos, koalas and bandicoots! Farming and market gardening are important industries with vineyards blossoming on many hillsides. Tourism has also taken off, with enchanting villages, such as Stirling and the "little Germany" that is Hahndorf, dotted throughout the hills. Of course, no visit to the hills would be complete without experiencing that breathtaking view over Adelaide night and day from the summit of Mount Lofty .
The Wine Districts
Adelaide is unquestionably the wine capital of Australia, simply because it lies within an hour's drive of some of the finest vineyards in the southern hemisphere. To the north, you will find the world-renowned Barossa Valley with its proud Teutonic heritage, rich soils and exquisite flavors. Equally appealing to many wine-lovers is the quality of product from the south of the city the boutique wineries of McLaren Vale . Indeed, what better way to spend a lazy afternoon than drinking fine wine amidst gentle hills, fertile flats and tinkling creeks?
With more restaurants per capita than any other Australian city, Adelaide offers an abundance of opportunities to exchange the grumbling of empty stomachs for the symphony of chinking cutlery and singing tastebuds. All enclosed restaurants in Adelaide are non-smoking, allowing untarnished enjoyment of South Australian flavors. The fact that Adelaide's two most famous contributions to the culinary arena are its world-class Barossa Valley wines, and its "Pie Floater" (or pie in pea soup), bears witness to the dazzling variety of cuisine available.
Relish the flavors on offer, accompanied with the kind of stimulating conversation that sublime food and a vibrant atmosphere seems to encourage. Then again, when food is this good, who really cares about conversation?
The succulent and sophisticated core of all things edible in Adelaide is undoubtedly Rundle Street, in the city's East End. Rundle Street is basted with drifts of garlic, slowly marinated in ridiculously long alfresco lunches, chargrilled under pulsating, cocktail-enhanced nights, and served drizzled with a warm and lively atmosphere. With over 50 restaurants, cafes and pubs, offering a plethora of international and local flavors, there is something to please the most pernickety palate. Try Piatto or Scoozi for Italian, Lemongrass or Cafe Michael 2 for Thai. Sample South Australia's own Coopers beer at the Exeter or Austral hotels, or dance till dawn at the trendy Stag Hotel .
Gouger Street, in the city's southwest, offers another rich hotchpotch of cultures and cuisines. The Central Market oozes fresh produce and divine aromas savor its tantalizing charms before pausing for coffee or an inexpensive meal at one of the numerous cafes. For truly authentic oriental flavors, choose from the wide selection of restaurants in Chinatown, the market's western seam. Gouger Street, however, stubbornly refuses to be defined according to any one style of dining. The street is studded with many tasty gems, from the elegant French, La Guillotine , to the authentic Malaysian, A Taste of Spice , the hearty Argentinean, Gaucho's , and numerous seafood restaurants.
Hutt Street, to the east of the city, is another favorite cafe belt. Graceful, but not uptight, the street is popular for sunny breakfasts, business lunches and anytime coffees. Choose from the wide range of baguettes at Roma's, enjoy an alfresco brunch at the Citrus Cafe , or experience a classy dinner at Nediz-Tu.
In the west of the city, Hindley Street is beginning to shed its once sleazy reputation in place of a more hip and arty image. A number of dining institutions have held their ground as nightclubs, cinemas, amusement arcades and alternative shops elbow for space around them. For Lebanese, try Quiet Waters or Jerusalem Sheshkabab House . Marcellina's Pizza Bar or Hindley Pasta Palace are the places for Italian.
Even the most casual eatery in this up-market suburb exudes a certain sophisticated ambience. Follow a film on O'Connell Street with a meal or a coffee; try Najjars , Cibo or Paesano , or fashionable and attractive pubs such as The Oxford and Royal Oak Hotel . The nearby Melbourne Street is elegant and dignified, yet simultaneously warm and charming. For something out of the ordinary, sample Cajun flavors at Bacall's, or watch a spot of belly dancing with your meal at Babylons. For late night, meaning-of-life type discussions, settle into the intimate Elephant Walk Cafe .
King William Road
Take a short trip south along King William Street, to the prestigious suburb of Hyde Park, where the street becomes a "road" and bitumen turns into paving. Dip into designer boutiques and funky gift stores as you wander along this enchanting leafy precinct, then indulge in waist-expanding cake at Cafe Piccante or Cafe Paradiso , or a slice of syrupy baklava at Zoe's Greek Restaurant. Chocolate lovers will be in a swoon over the miraculous creations at Cocolat . Be warned, even if you are "just looking", calories will throw themselves at your body!
Just east of the city is Norwood Parade, boasting a cinema complex and a vast array of predominantly Italian cafes. Soak up the lively, cosmopolitan atmosphere and the rich, garlicky smells, as you catch up with friends at the Star Cafe, Caffe Buongiorno , Caffe Medici or Cafe Bravo .
Adelaide is blessed with a 30-kilometer stretch of clean, sandy beaches, the closest of which are only a 15-minute drive from the city. In culinary terms, this equals numerous pockets of picturesque, seaside eateries. The most popular beach is Glenelg, with Jetty Road offering every dining choice. For a memorable evening, dine alfresco at Sammy's, or Lido on the new Marina Pier. North of Glenelg is Henley Square, overflowing with delectable offerings. Taste traditional Greek mezze at Estia or contemporary Australian at Bacchus Wine Bar . Other tempting ocean-flavored eateries include the Semaphore Palais , Grange Jetty Kiosk and Cafe Salsa at West Beach.
No visit to South Australia would be complete without an inspection of its much celebrated vineyards. If your stay is limited, ensure you see and taste the best by booking a tour, such as Barossa Valley Supreme , Barossa Wine Train , or McLaren Vale Food and Wine .
Beyond the Culinary Hot Spots
Make sure you do allow your tastebuds to venture beyond these dining hot-spots, as numerous culinary delights are also sprinkled in less obvious locations. If Indian cuisine appeals, sample Australia's finest at Jasmin Indian Restaurant in Hindmarsh Square. Enjoy classy, multiple-award winning dining overlooking the River Torrens at Jolleys Boathouse . For a unique local dining experience, purchase a "Pie Floater" from The Pie Cart outside the Adelaide Railway Station. Even though it is an Adelaide icon, most Adelaidians swear they have never actually tasted it!
Adelaide is the heart of food and wine in Australia. A few meals in this city will provide ample compensation for any drab and uninspired dining experiences your tastebuds may have endured over the years. Whether you prefer your meal fine or fast, riotous or restful, candle-lit or on a spit ... you will be impressed if you have it in Adelaide.
Tours abound in and around Adelaide for every size of pocket, timetable and interest. Many offer a little of everything, some are more specialized, and there is always a glass of wine on the list. Adelaide sits with leafy dignity on the River Torrens, which stretches between the hills and the sea.
Adelaide's Central Market
There are dozens of organized and guided visits that either concentrate on wine tasting or tour an area with a few food and grape stops. With five world-famous wine regions, the sea and bountiful farmlands, wine and food festivals are a constant on local calendars. If you do not believe this, visit Adelaide's Central Market . Local produce includes seafood, meat, cheese, olives and a plethora of colorful fruit and vegetables. Meet the stallholders and their produce on one of the many tours offered. Victoria Square is also close by and features the Grange Restaurant which is hailed as one of the best restaurants in Adelaide. Not far from here is Tandanya , an art gallery, performance space that explores the rich culture of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders. Close by you can also take a self guided tour of the Botanic Park adjacent to the Adelaide Zoological Gardens . Here you can also relax near Torrens Lake and Elder Park .
Lipson Street is one of the most historic sites in Port Adelaide. Here you can tour the South Australian Maritime Museum and grab a bite to eat at the Lipson Cafe . Get ready for a blast from the past as you tour the Australian Museum of Childhood . Along Lispon Street you will also stumble upon the South Australian Aviation Museum which will allow you to trace the aviation history of South Australia.
The best-known Australian wine, Orlando Wines of Jacobs Creek, originates from the lush Barossa Valley. A selection of maps and tours of the 50 wineries, Lutheran churches and old German towns, is available to help you explore this fascinating area. The Barossa Valley is also home to Grant Burge Wines , a winery that hails some of the best white wines in the region. A great eatery to try in the area is the 1918 Bistro and Grill . The charming cottage and tasty entrees will compliment the wine that you may bring with you.
The Adelaide Hills feature conservation and wildlife parks, Mount Lofty Botanic Garden , local wineries, and great trails to venture through the eucalyptus-thronged Mount Lofty ranges. You can also get a great view of your surroundings as you dine at the Mount Lofty Summit Restaurant . Rise early for a dawn tour of the Warrawong Sanctuary and an insight into endangered wildlife. If you're in search for the perfect weekend get away, Coonawarra is the answer. Producing many of the state's classic red wines, this region also allows you to tramp gently around the Naracoorte Caves Conservation Park , which is on the World Heritage list. Coonawarra is also the location of the Zema Estate , a small family owned winery that specializes in red wines.
Whether you roam around Adelaide by foot or on wheels, the great outdoors awaits the nature spirit, or for the shopaholic, bring something from Adelaide back home with you.
Coorong Adventure Cruise ( +61 8 8555 2203/ http://www.coorongcruises.com.au/ )
Adelaide's Cultural Heritage Guided Walk (+61 8 8405 6560 / http://www.portenf.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=703/)
Tourabout Adelaide (+61 8 8333 1111/http://www.touraboutadelaide.com.au/)
Botanic Gardens (+61 8 8222 9311 / http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/botanicgardens/)
Bird walks (+61 8 8303 5594)
Adelaide Highlights and Hahndorf (+61 1300 858 687 / http://www.grayline.com/Grayline/destinations/pacificislands/adelaide.go?mode=activityDetail&apid=996&sid=598/)
Premier Stateliner (+61 8 8415 5500 / http://www.premierstateliner.com.au/)
Adelaide Private Tours (+61 8 8333 1111 / http://www.touraboutadelaide.com.au/)
Adelaide Sightseeing (+61 8 8413 6199 / http://www.adelaidesightseeing.com.au/)
Gray Line (+61 1300 85 8687 / http://www.grayline.com/Grayline/index.aspx/)
Worldwide Shopping Tours ( http://www.worldwideshoppingtours.com.au/)
Flinders Ranges (+61 1800 633 060)
Ecotrek & Bogong Jack Adventures (+61 8 8383 7198 / http://www.ecotrek.com.au/)
Wayward Bus (+61 8 8410 8833 / http://www.waywardbus.com.au/)
Food & Wine Tours
Market Adventures (+61 8 8263 0265 / http://www.topfoodandwinetours.com.au/)
Asian Market Experience (+61 8 8332 2727)
Grazing on Gouger (+61 8 8263 0265 / http://www.topfoodandwinetours.com.au/)
Barossa Valley Supreme (+61 8 8298 8146 / http://www.primeminitours.com/)
Barossa Wine Train (+61 8 8212 7888 / http://www.postcards.sa.com.au/features/bluebird_rail.html)
McLaren Vale Food and Wine (+61 8 8323 9944 / http://www.mclarenvale.info/)
A Taste of South Australia (+61 8 8271 7777 / http://www.tastesa.com.au/)