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On my last day in Adelaide, I 1) had an early morning latte at the Adelaide Central Market, the largest undercover market in the country; 2) traveled outside the city to a wildlife park where I hugged a koala; 3) met friends for dinner at a terrific Indian restaurant called Jasmin; and 4) spent the evening drinking beer in Rundle Park at the annual Adelaide Fringe, a multimedia celebration of the arts that’s earned the city the nickname “Festival City.”
And that was only on my last day.
Adelaide, the third largest city in Australia (population 1.1 million), is what you would call a manageable metropolis — it’s got all the big city amenities with none of the big city headaches or at least that was my impression on a recent trip. It is small enough to navigate, yet it’s also cosmopolitan enough to offer some of the activities found in larger cities to the southeast and east, Melbourne and Sydney.
Adelaide grew out of Australia’s convict history, when the country, then a British colony, was used as a penal colony for British prisoners. One of them conceived of a city that, instead of being built with convict labor, would be for free laborers and their families who wanted to emigrate from the U.K.
Today, Adelaide is known for, among other things, its proximity to some of the best wine country in Australia, including the Barossa Valley and Clare Valley. In fact, Australia’s first exported wine was sent to Queen Victoria from grapes planted in Adelaide Hills.
The city is a multicultural mix — Vietnamese, Polish, Irish, Maltese, Dutch, Afghans and Indians are only a few of the ethnic groups represented here and, increasingly, it is Asia and not Europe that supplies the influx of new immigrants.
Walking is the best way to get around, although Adelaide has a well-defined and easy-to-use public transportation system. If clients choose to rent a car and explore the area themselves, they should be aware that they will drive on the left side, not on the right as they are used to in the U.S.
During my visit, a friend took me to a wildlife park just outside of the city. There, in a photo booth set up for tourists, I was handed a very tame, very glassy-eyed koala which hugged me while I had my picture taken with him. He seemed oblivious to the whole procedure, happily munching on some eucalyptus leaves.
Getting ThereAdelaide is a short flight from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Qantas Airways and V Australia fly directly from LAX to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
When to GoAdelaide has a Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and warm, dry summers. Rainfall mostly occurs during the winter months of June, July and August.
Where to Stay
Crowne Plaza Hotel AdelaideContemporary luxury and al fresco dining is at your fingertips at this hotel in the heart of the city’s business district.www.ichotelsgroup.com
Majestic Roof Garden HotelThe Majestic Roof Garden Hotel is an inner-city property that oozes personality and charm.www.majestichotels.com.auWhere to EatGouger Street is Adelaide’s key eating street. It’s the gateway to the Adelaide Central Market and the bustling mall and food halls of Chinatown. Rundle Street, in Adelaide’s East End, has a popular casual atmosphere and is recommended for lunch and dinner. It’s bursting with al fresco dining — a vibrant food, wine and coffee experience not to be missed.
What to DoFor shopaholics, wander down Rundle Mall and indulge in some retail therapy. Pick up some treats from Haigh’s Chocolates or stock up on RM Williams merchandise from the legendary Outback outfitter. Within a 20-minute drive of Adelaide, clients can be by the sea at the vibrant town of Glenelg or in the lush and charming countryside of Adelaide Hills, with its chain of historic villages, attractive valleys and stunning views.