My home town is one of the best kept secrets in Australia, and for that reason I’m tempted not to write an article about it. However, if you promise not to tell anyone… my home town is Adelaide, in South Australia.
Adelaide is the perfect mix: it’s a city, with all the benefits that entails, such as the night life, restaurants, concerts, orchestras, theatres, the ballet, a big entertainment centre, museums, art galleries, zoos, and everything else you would expect in a city. But it is small enough to feel like a big country town, with everything that entails, such as friendly, happy people, fresh air, open spaces, and relatively little traffic. Other cities feel like they’re full wall-to-wall with people crushed together, but Adelaide does not feel like that.
Adelaide is surrounded by beautiful countryside on the south, east and north, with the sea to the west, and it is quite common to live in a rural area and yet be less than an hour’s drive from the city centre. The Adelaide Hills offer some spectacular views of the city on the plain.
Some of the attractions in and around Adelaide include the wine-growing areas of the Barossa Valley, the McLaren Vale and McLaren Flat areas, Langhorne Creek, and the Clare Valley, among others. These areas are similar to the wine-growing areas of California, with pretty vineyards and plenty of wineries to visit for tastings and wine purchases. There are lots of small boutique wineries selling magnificent wines that you cannot buy anywhere else. (Here’s another secret: Australia keeps the best wine and exports the rest.)
There are many zoos and wildlife parks in and around the city. My personal recommendation is the Warrawong Sanctuary in the Adelaide Hills (near Stirling). You will not get to see lions, tigers and elephants here, but you will get to see some of Adelaide’s original inhabitants, many of which are now sadly rare. They include numerous small marsupials such as quolls, potoroos and bandicoots, which you rarely see elsewhere. All the animals are free to roam around as they please. Because of this, the best times to visit are at dawn and dusk, because this is when most of these shy animals are most active. There are eco-cabins on site, and a good restaurant.
The beaches in and around Adelaide are among the best in the world, from the city beaches of Glenelg and Semaphore to the more sparsely populated beaches to the north and south. The beaches in the south are particularly good, and where I live (on the southern outskirts), if there’s anyone at all on the beach, we go to another beach to avoid the crowds! A nudist beach is among the southern beaches, and each year it holds a nude olympics’, which is fun for those who are not offended by nudity.
A little further south are the rural towns of Silver Sands, Victor Harbor and Granite Island, and Goolwa, which is the gateway to the Coorong, the lower lakes, and the River Murray. A short bridge crossing from Goolwa is Hindmarsh Island, with its fabulous marina, and some great fishing spots. You can also take a paddle steamer cruise from Goolwa.
Also within easy reach of Adelaide are the quaint German town of Hahndorf and the unspoilt town of Strathalbyn. Lake Alexandrina is a little further on (still less than 1.5 hours from Adelaide centre) with the old port of Milang, which at one time was a major port for the paddle steamers, but which is now a lazy fishing village with a great caravan park and a cluster of fishing shacks overlooking Reed Island. If you like to see pelicans, Milang and Goolwa are among the best places.
Adelaideans love markets, and you will find country markets every weekend, such as the market at Myponga, and the very popular Farmer’s Market at Willunga. The Central City Markets are the largest, and are immensely popular with locals and tourists alike. Whatever you like to do, Adelaide has something for everyone.
Public transport is good, or you can hire a car, campervan or mobile home to get around in. If you’re from the USA or continental Europe, just remember we not only allow you to drive on what you (laughingly) think is the wrong side of the road we actually insist on it!