Introduction – Adelaide, South Australia, Australia


It has been two years since I have written about Adelaide so there is a need to update information for the visiting tourist, in particular the budget traveller.

Although the CBD is prolific with backpacker hotels (more than 20) a new one has appeared that excels all, notably the Blue Galah located upstairs at 62 King William St., and what could be more central than that! It has 130 beds and costs, dorms $22/night, singles $50 and twin share $25 to $33 per person per night. Here you can have a beer or vino on the balcony overlooking busy King William Street. Also the SA Youth Hostel offers a range of accommodation in new premises at 135 Waymouth St adjacent to Light Square. I always use their travel agency which provides excellent service.

For easy movement around the city make use of the free buses. The Bee Line buses shuttle between the Central Railway Station and Victoria Square, from where you can catch an antique tram to the seaside resort of Glenelg. Also there are the City Loop buses that have a more extensive route traversing North Terrace, go briefly on East and West Terraces, and south as far as the Central Market and Victoria Square. These buses have about a 20 minute schedule and are a distinctive jazzy yellow colour.

There is now a free minibus service on an hourly schedule that takes in North Adelaide Village, the Zoo, North Terrace, Lights Square, Central Market and Victoria Square. For all transport details consult the Adelaide Metro website.

Adelaide’s Old Pubs

Adelaide abounds in lovely old pubs, many being built over a 100 years ago when customers arrived in horse-drawn cabs and coaches. They are compact 2 or 3 storey establishments with ornate Victorian architecture, often retaining the original decor inside as well. Some were our first 4 and 5 star hotels but faded later when the modern, high-rise, Hilton-type hotels were built.

There are over 60 such pubs in the CBD. Typically at street level are two or more bar areas with tables for eating snacks and lunches, a main restaurant and a gaming room (pokies). Some places have the main restaurant upstairs and a smaller breakfast dining area for guests.
Accommodation is on the upper floors.

Space permitting, some have sidewalk tables and/or a secluded beer garden (al fresco) which are popular in summertime. Cash flow comes from liquor sales, pokies, meals and accommodation, probably in that order of importance.

My Favourite Pubs and Eateries

When visiting the CBD I am always attracted to a few old favourites. On King William Street in the two blocks north of Victoria Square are two beauties. The Criterion Hotel maintains its Victoriana facade but is modernised inside. It does a roaring trade with office workers and professional yuppies for lunches and dinners but is closed at the weekends. Early morning I like to stop here for a quiet cappuccino and toast and so plan my day.

Next block north is the wonderful Heritage-listed The Ambassadors Hotel built in 1841 as the City Arms Hotel. It has been remodelled once since then and renamed, successively the Lloyds Coffee House (1873), United Services Hotel (1881) and The Ambassadors Hotel in 1931.

Ambassadors Hotel

Ambassadors Hotel

The ground floor Marble Bar retains the original dark wood furniture and panelling and glitzy chandeliers. In wintertime there is welcoming open log fire with a stack of mallee roots nearby. Clientele is different too. Upstairs and extending onto a balcony overlooking King William Street is the main restaurant which I like to frequent prior to attending a function at the Town Hall nearby.

Monday to Friday the Marble Bar offers a daily special light lunch (e.g. steak and kidney with mashed potato topping and salad) with a West End draught beer all for A$4.50 (One Australian dollar = 71 cents US). Main menu is served upstairs (smokeless) or downstairs. Happy Hours are 12 – 2 pm and 5 to 8 pm when beer is $2.20 a schooner (285 mls) and house wine and sparkling $2.50 a glass. Accommodation at the Amabassadors costs $60 single, $80 double with breakfast. The 3rd floor special backpacker rates are $50 single or $25 share a room.

To the south on Grote Street opposite the Central Market and next door to Her Majesty’s Theatre is the oldy Metropolitan Hotel with friendly staff and popular restaurant. Accommodation here is $50 double/$30 single without breakfast. At the bar you will hear "A schooner of pale, please" …. "That will be $3.10."

Adelaide’s world famous Coopers Brewery supplies many pubs with draught and bottled beer and exports home brewing kits. The unique flavour is partly due to a final fermentation in the bottle giving the beer a slight cloudiness. Coopers Pale Ale and Lager are 4.5% alcohol and Coopers Stout at 6.3% are all worth trying.

South Australia is the country’s largest wine producing region so it is essential to test the local produce. The house wines are good value. The reds are usually bulk Shiraz blends made by Kaisler Stuhl or Red Stripe which normally sell at $2.50 a glass, but also splash out on a Jacob’s Creek Shiraz or Taylor’s Cab-Sauv at $5 to $6 a glass from the bottle. Anything more prized you will have to buy a bottle.

Next door to the Metropolitan Hotel is located¬†Tunney’s Tobacconist established in 1911, worth visiting for a step into the past and free sniff of a multitude of aromas. Here you can choose from dozens of tobaccos and ask to have your favourite blend of pipe tobacco made up or buy any of many Dutch and Cuban cigars and cigarillos.

Finally, if you are roaming the East End of the CBD, I must recommend the Mansions Tavern and restaurant which is very popular, being a modern and below street level establishment at 21 Poultney Street, and also the German Club at 223 Flinders Street. You don’t have to be a member to have a German-style meal of exotic sausages, meat loaf and sauerkraut. They open at noon and have friendly activities until late. I like to have dinner here and then progress to the nearby Arts Theatre to see a play.

A Day and Evening at the Beach

There are innumerable regional tours available and to find out about these go to the SA Visitor & Travel Centre at 18 King William St or their Info Kiosk at the start of the Rundle Mall. For something different and at little cost try the following. First go to the Metro Transport Info Centre, corner of King William and Currie St and buy a day trip ticket costing $6.20 and also get the Metro Guide Book and Metro Train Timetable for the Noarlunga Line, which runs south past the beaches at Brighton, Seacliff, Marino and Hallett Cove.

For a unique leap back into the past and free trip to Antarctica I suggest an afternoon roaming the Hallett Cover Conservation Park which is adjacent to the beach at Hallett Cove. Hop on the train at the Central Station and about 45 minutes later get off at Hallett Cove station, then walk north and downhill to enter the Conservation Park. There are several pathways overlooking the coastal cliffs with many sign posts explaining what to look at.

Adelaide in the Ice Age

The Park is a geological reserve where ancient rocks are exposed, smoothed and striated by the movement of a glacier that existed in Permian times before dinosaurs existed, some 270 million years ago! No kidding! In those days Australia was near the South Pole and part of a huge continent called Gondwanaland. About 60 million years ago this continent split up and the sub-continents of South America, Africa, India and Australia all drifted northwards at the rate of 5 to 7 cms per year, to arrive at their present position on the globe, and we are still moving! Weird, you may say, but the rocks speak!

If you are familiar with present day glacial features, such as seen in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, you will find much the same at Hallett Cove, also at Glacier Rock in the Inman Valley near Victor Harbour some 50 kms south. Glaciers contain much rock debris and that along the base grinds away the bed rock leaving distinctive grooves and pock marks. When they extend over water as ice shelves, or icebergs, and eventually melt the enclosed rock debris drops to the sea or lake floor making a disturbance in the sediment below and are preserved as " dropstones". All this can be seen at Hallett Cove.

If you wish to be more informed on this phenomenon then I suggest you purchase a "A Field Guide to the Geology of Hallett Cove" produced by the Field Geology Club of South Australia, Inc of which I am a committee member. Let me know by email; also there are other useful South Australia geology field guide booklets available.

Besides studying the rocks you can fraternise with the seabirds, admire the plant life and watch frolicking seals and dolphins and the odd whale or passing yachtie. Later in the day you will have to struggle up the hill to the railway station and catch a train back towards the city, but there is more to come for the intrepid explorer!

Back Home in an Erratic Manner

On the way back get off at Seacliff station and head downhill to the beach and arrive exhausted at the remodelled Seacliff Hotel which is the most popular of Adelaide’s seaside venues. Superb eating and drinking here but no space to elaborate. After a suitable rest hit the beach and paddle in the sands northwards a km or so admiring the sunset to arrive refreshed at Brighton jetty and the Esplanade Hotel, which excels at indoor/outdoor eating, and the quaffing of cold beers and vino. And then on to Jetty Road (Brighton) where you can sample the exotic fares of Parisian-style restaurants that spill onto the sidewalk, notably Cafe del Mare, Hortas, a cafe etc and Medusa’s as you go up the hill. But remember, the last train into the city leaves Brighton at 11.12 pm every night and the station is up Jetty Road to the railway line and south a little ways.

That’s all for now. Enjoy Adelaide!

For more information, check out the author’s website.¬†