Adelaide, South Australia – August 1999
Adelaide city is a joy to live in. It is my base from which I travel
the World. Now I am looking inwards to find out why it is such a
wonderful place and what it has to offer the visitor, particular the
backpacker from elsewhere.
With monotonous regularity, Adelaide is voted the most livable city in
the World. Factors considered are cost-of-living, safety, climate,
public transport, accommodation, tourist facilities and many more. In
aggregate, Adelaide comes out on top, leaving even Sydney and Melbourne way behind.
Why is this?
Firstly, with a population of just over 1 million people, it is an ideal size for a city. Big enough to have all expected city
attractions, such as live theatre, fine restaurants, museums etc, yet
not too big to falter with traffic congestion, pollution and slum
This cosmopolitan city nestles on the Adelaide plain, bounded to
the west by miles of clean, sandy beaches safe for swimming (summer
temps get up to 40Ã¯Â¿Â½C).
To the east and south the suburbs extend into the Adelaide Hills, where delightful villages blend in with the eucalypt forested terrain at altitudes of 300 metres. Olive and almond trees are everywhere, escapees from their extensive cultivation in the countryside. Vineyards still exist within the city boundaries and remind us of the Adelaide region’s fame as producer of fine wines from the nearby McLaren Valle, Barossa and Clare Valleys.
Now the nitty-gritty for visitors. Hurrah. We have a “no hassles”
airport only 6 kms from the city center! Who has heard of an
international airport so close? Also, interstate buses drop you off
downtown. The metro (suburban diesel trains) and buses conveniently go everywhere.
Where to Stay
Backpackers have the choice of many excellent hostels, 19 at last count. If you are staying a week or more I suggest trying out a couple, to get to know different parts of the city and to meet a
range of travellers.
You arrive tired and bewildered at the Central Bus Terminal. Within
sight are 2 comfy backpackers. Across the street is Cannon St
Backpackers at 110 Franklin St, and one block south is Back Pack
Australia occupying the old Hampshire Hotel, opposite China Town and the Central Market, at 110 Grote St. Defunct hotels make excellent
Further eastward (1 km) on the corner of Pultney and Wakefield St is the spacious Backpack Oz occupying the old Orient Hotel. You can’t go wrong here unless you go berserk at the nearby Earl of Aberdeen Hotel (2 blocks away). The Earl is noted for its fine restaurant and weekend musical evenings (= live band). I admire its architecture (an historic building) but find it a tad noisy – OK if you already have boilermaker’s deafness! Conveniently close is the small but cosy Adelaide Backpackers Inn at 112 Carrington St.
The inner city suburbia may appeal to some. Going a couple of blocks
further eastward towards trendy Hutt St is the main Youth Hostel at 290 Gillies St and the Adelaide Backpackers Hostel (a 16 year veteran) at 263 Gillies St. Also the rambling East Park Lodge at 341 Angas St is worth a try. The favorite Hutt St watering hole is the Arab Steed Hotel, good for pub meals and grog.
From the city center you can take a vintage tram trip to the trendy
beach suburb of Glenelg where the popular Glenelg Beach Resort
backpackers occupies an historic 1878 building.
I live at Seacliff, right on the beach, only 25 minutes by train from
the city center. An ideal spot. While breakfasting on the balcony I
watch recreational fishermen launch their boats and head out across the bay. Often a family of dolphins cruise by close inshore undisturbed by kayakers paddling among them. It’s too cold for swimming just now, being midwinter. Temperatures range from a chilly 4Ã¯Â¿Â½C at night to a high of 15Ã¯Â¿Â½ in the afternoon. But almost everyday the sky is blue and cloudless. The sandy beach is well used by locals, for walking, jogging and exercising the family dog. Dogs love to chase the seagulls, dig holes in the sand and splash through the water fetching sticks and
You too can live at the beach. Ever thought of staying at a Caravan
Park? There are 8 Caravan Parks on the beach front of greater Adelaide, not to mention another 12 sited elsewhere around the suburbs. If you are travelling in a group, say 2 to 4 people, then it is economical to hire an on-site caravan, or cabin, or you can pitch your tent and use the facilities, such as toilet block, kitchen, laundry etc.
Easy to get to and right on the beach is the Brighton Caravan Park, Marineland Holiday Village and West Beach Caravan Park. Essential for travellers to South Australia is the “Caravan & Camping Guide” booklet available at the SA Travel Centre, corner of North Terrace and King William St.
Time for a beer or vino?
Adelaideans take their socializing very seriously. The East End, in particular, Rundle Street is where it all happens. Pubs, clubs and sidewalk cafÃ¯Â¿Â½s abound with gaily coloured umbrellas sheltering a hubbub of imbibers.
Business deals are conducted during the day from favored pubs and
cafÃ¯Â¿Â½s. Mobile phones are conspicuous. Lunch starts at noon and extends to 2pm most days and longer on Friday when many bars have a happy hour between 5 and 7pm, with half price drinks and free finger food. Much creative work is achieved on Fridays.
My favorite pub?
I go to the city a couple of times each week by morning train and head for the Criterion (Bernardis Bar) on King William St, next to the GPO. I start the day by having coffee and hot-buttered raisin toast for $2. Later I return for their lunch special of vino or beer with a toasted ham and cheese sandwich for $4. What’s more, the bar staff are all trained to fill glasses to the brim! Cheers!
Adelaide is the capital of the State of South Australia, located on the coast “in the middle and down the bottom” of Australia.
South Australia occupies 1/8 of Australia, or 984,381 sq kms, about the combined size of Texas and New Mexico, yet the total population is a mere 1.5 million. The reason for the lack of inhabitants is that the inland area is mainly desert. It is by far the driest of the Australian States with 80% of the State receiving less than 254mm (10 inches) of rainfall annually.
The South Australian climate is characterized by hot, dry summers (Dec – Feb) and cool winters with most rain falling in the months of May to
August. Adelaide city and environs has a Mediterranean-type climate,
with an average annual rainfall of 580mm.
Whatever time of the year it is always pleasant to walk around and explore the sights. Adelaide is the center of a famous wine producing region.
Colonization of South Australia was part of the British colonial
policy. Some American sealers and whalers had been forming settlements from 1804 onwards. It was in 1836 that Colonel William Light officially established a site for Adelaide on the River Torrens which provided a reliable source of fresh water and fertile ground for crop production.
Settlers came from England, particularly Cornwall, as skilled miners
were needed to develop the copper deposits soon discovered. Unlike
Sydney and Hobart, the British did not use Adelaide as a penal
The exchange rate today is 1 Oz dollar = US 65 cents.
ATMs are everywhere in the city but rare in country towns.
Before leaving home, sign up for web based email, and arrange
internet access to your bank and credit card accounts so that you can
see what’s what by computer from anywhere.
In the CBD there are 2 main public access points viz., Ngapartji
Multimedia Centre at 211 Rundle St and Talking Cents at 53 Hindley St.
Ngapartji has 4 old computers set up on the sidewalk for free internet
access but inside are dozens of top-notch computers for hire. Standard
rate is $4 to $5 per half hour.
Some backpacker hostels have a computer. All suburban libraries have 1 or 2 computers and allow free internet access but you may have to book a time. Ngapartji has the most modern equipment.
You can visit Allano’s web site by clicking here.