In the theory of everything Australian, Adelaide dances to a different drum. The imitation game of other Aussie cities is not at play here. Sydney, Hobart, Brisbane and Melbourne sprung up from the lives of English convict settlements but Adelaide’s DNA has been hardwired by free settlers. In 1836, Colonel William Light chose this site on the River Torrens, laying the foundation stone for Australia’s first planned colony of free immigrants. Rich German immigrants, for example, were among the first to set up vineyards and wineries in the region in the early 19th century.
Many other historic firsts followed. Because of the growing German population, the first Lutheran Service was held here in 1838. A year later the country’s first Chamber of Commerce was established in Adelaide. The first YMCA branch was set up here in 1851 and the first telephone line in Australia in 1886. The city was also the first to grant women the right to vote in 1895, the first to have female police officers and the first to provide driving license and the first to allow legalized abortions. Adelaide was the first city to decriminalize homosexuality and the first to make rape in marriage a criminal offence. It’s a city shaped by visionary thinkers who tempered and informed the Adelaidean character and attitude.
Adelaide is spread dramatically between the rolling Adelaide Hills and the Great Australian Bight. Its long and beautiful beaches lined with restaurants and bars are beautiful places to spend an entire day. The city is known for its numerous cultural festivals and its burgeoning restaurant scene rocks with inventive cuisines. The region around the city is known for producing some of the world’s best wines. No wonder in 2014 Adelaide was on Lonely Planet’s top 10 cities to visit. And now with the India vs Pakistan match of the cricket World Cup scheduled for February 15, the city will see an influx of thousands of South Asians. Here’s some help in enjoying this great Australian city.
Three Great Hotels
1. A prime location on the River Torrens, next to the casino and with half of its 366 rooms facing the historic Adelaide Oval, the luxurious InterContinental serves a massive breakfast. Its bar brims over nightly with corporate types and socialites coming in for pre-dinner drinks or post-show nightcaps.
2. The Hilton overlooking the heritage Victoria Square has long been the favourite of Australia’s rich and the mighty. China Town, Central Market and restaurant-lined Gouger Street are just minutes away.
3. The Majestic Minima located at 146 Melbourne Street in North Adelaide, just two km from the city centre, offers an art gallery experience with each of its 46 rooms having one wall featuring an original painting by a different South Australian artist.
Three Great Restaurants
1. Why do I love Jasmin after eleven years of annually eating there? For its central location? For its clever wine pairings? For its samosas, Murgh Makhani, tadka daal? For its elegant basement surrounded by Tom Cleghorn million dollar paintings? Well, for all of these. (31 Hindmarsh Square).
2. From Tokyo to the Magill Estate restaurant, Chef Nihonryori Ryugin brings his three star Michelin talents into play. It’s the least you can expect from the house of Penfolds known for their outstanding award-winning wines. The eight course menu costs only $ 435, but hey it’s paired with the legendary 2008 Grange red wine. Australian nouvelle dining does not get any better than this. (78 Penfold Road).
3. With a name like Concubine (132 Gouger Street), expect seduction. Entrees like Steamed Prawn and Chive Dumplings With Soy and Chilli Oil, Crispy Pork Belly with Chinese Pickled Vegetables, Steamed Deluxe Dim Sums with Flying Fish Roe, had us salivating for more. Mains? Mahjong Wok Crispy Chicken, Native Prawns in Sarawak Pepper, Pork Loin Chops Kingfish Fillet with Eggplant and Okra in a Malay Yellow Curry.
Three Great Bars
1. Boasting the biggest rooftop bar in Adelaide, Gallery on Waymouth (30 Waymouth Street), perfect for balmy summer evenings, buzzes till late at night.
2. Cantina Sociale (108 Sturt Street), serves wine by boutique producers from the barrel accompanied by tapas, and a philosophy of offering a place where friends can gather to drink great quality wine, nibble a snack and solve the world’s problems.
3. Cork Wine Café, (61 Gouger Street), opposite the Central Market, specialises in organic, biodynamic and natural wines. All the wines on the regularly changing list are hand-selected and rare.
Three Great Night Clubs
1. Apple Bar (5 Synagogue Place), a stylish haven located in a former heritage listed synagogue. Boasting three sleek bars and two dance floors, this lush late-night venue combines ultra-exclusive lounge with high-energy nightclub.
2. Maybe Mae, Basement (15 Peel Street), has the tunes, green leather booths and oozes with a sexy ‘50s vibe. The bar list has fun, voluminous cocktails and Krug alongside cans of Adelaide’s Southwark Bitter.
3. Red Square Bar (111 Hindley Street) is where the beat goes on and on and escape from reality is electric and guaranteed.
Three Places To Visit
1. The Art Gallery Of South Australia, established in 1881, is home to one of Australia’s oldest art collections. It has the largest collection of Rodin sculptures in the southern hemisphere, and the most significant collection of South East Asian ceramics in the world. (www.artgallery.sa.gov.au)
2. Adelaide Central Market, the largest covered produce market in the Southern Hemisphere offers a great selection foods. Since 1869 it has attracted the city’s top chefs who shop for fresh produce. Join one of the guided walks that bring out the flavour of the market. (www.adelaidecentralmarket.com.au)
3. Cleland Wildlife Park, an award-winning environmental attraction in the Adelaide Hills where visitors can get close to most of Australia’s native animals including kangaroos, wallabies, emus and koalas. You can also hold a koala or hand-feed a kangaroo. Loved by kids and adults alike.( www.clelandwildlifepark.sa.gov.au)
Three Things To Buy
1. RM Williams Boots: Founded by legend Reginald Murray (“RM”) Williams, bushman, camel-boy, horseman and businessman. His Longhorn brand of footwear and leather accessories for men is an international brand, strongly associated with Australia’s outback heritage.
2. Jurlique Cosmetics: Ethical and environmentally-friendly skincare and cosmetics products.
3. Haigh’s Chocolates: Australia’s oldest family-owned chocolate maker making fine chocolates from cocoa bean since 1915. Milk Mango Fruit, Lime, Chilli Grenada Dark and Champagne Truffle are just a few that spoil the chocoholic for choice.