ROLLING hills, a fresh country atmosphere, ocean breezes and hot beaches. Adelaide refuses to be dismissed as a secondary player to Australia's big capitals, despite being the fifth-biggest city with a population of about 1.2million.
What immediately jumps to mind with Adelaide is its natural country charm and how it isn't affected by the hustle and bustle that usually comes with the package served up by Australia's other capital cities. There's a distinct sense of space, warmth with its people, wonderful beach culture, splendid wine country and shopping and dining experiences that rival the nation's best. Throw into the mix an array of festivals and an obsession with sport and it's easy to understand why a southern Australian experience is a good as any other location on the continent.
Adelaide's climate is Mediterranean, which means for most of the year the weather is clear and sunny with a brief, mild winter. The city's spectacular coastline stretches for 32 kilometres and showcases beautiful sandy beaches and trendy seaside fringes such as Semaphore and Glenelg.
For want of some key words that best represent Adelaide, start with these - wine, food, shopping, beach, sport, festivals. A southern Australian sojourn spells unforgettable experiences.
ALFRESCO is the order of the day in Adelaide, a city that claims to have more restaurants per capita than any other Australian capital - obviously dining is a favourite pastime. But what makes it really special is the eclectic offerings and the quality is nothing short of superb. This can be largely attributed to the fact that Adelaide is home to some of the country's most innovative and reputable chefs and much of the food is locally produced.
Sniff out some of the more popular haunts in Rundle Street East, Gouger Street and Hutt Street, but here's some DriveNow special suggestions to start you salivating:
Chloe's: Arguably Adelaide's finest gastronomical experience, Chloe's offers French and modern Australian meals and has one of the nation's best wine lists with a cellar boasting more than 10,000 wines. Set in a stunning 1876 Victorian Villa at 36 College Rd in Kent Town, the dishes are innovative with a modern edge and staff service is experienced and professional.
Alphutte: You won't find Swiss bliss quite like it! Alphutte is a restaurant sensation in the heart of town in Pulteney Street and blends an international menu with superb Swiss cuisine. Another restaurant with a special cellar, the venue features high, timber ceilings and is perfect for a special night out.
The Grange: With arguably one of the world's best chefs running the show, Cheong Liew, exquisite The Grange Restaurant - named after world famous Penfolds Grange wine - is part of the Hilton and overlooks the ocean. The food is to die for, so too the atmosphere and location.
The Rocks Grill: This restaurant at Oaks Plaza Pier Hotel in Holdfast Promenade in Glenelg is a ripper family option and particularly terrific for great steaks. Its beachfront location offers a chilled atmosphere and sublime views. The menu is overflowing with the fresh flavours of the state and there is a multicultural approach to the food so there's variety. As the name suggests, the Mallee wood-fired grill gets a solid working over.
Coopers Ale House at the Earl: While the wine certainly steals the limelight in South Australia, one can't underestimate the brilliance of another state icon that sparkles ' Coopers. In fact, Coopers is a beer name up there with the world's best. This restaurant on the corner of Pulteney and Carrington streets has a more relaxed bistro and bar dining for classic Australian pub meals.
South Australia is home to some of the world's truly great wines and Adelaide sits snug between two premier wine regions the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale - the ultimate attractions for those cruising around in a car or campervan!
But that's merely the tip of the tantalising topple - wine regions are sprouted everywhere in the part of the world, including the Adelaide Hills, just 20 minutes from the city, Clare Valley, the rich, red soil of the Coonawarra and the liquid gold grown in Ranges and Eden Valley. One thing is certain: there's no shortage of great wine, which means there's no shortage of great fun and, in some cases, the occasional headache, but usually worth the trouble!
South Australia produces 70 percent of Australia's wine and there are wines to suit all tastes. Adelaide itself is home to the National Wine Centre, showcasing Australia's achievements and awards in wine production. This opened in 2001 and is one of the premier wine tasting and educational centres in the world, enhanced by its spectacular setting of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens right in the heart of the city.
THERE'S no shortage of shopping options in Adelaide, but Rundle Mall is the main drawcard and has been since the mid-1970s. This mall is closed to traffic and offers a plethora of specialty stores and cafes as street performers entertain every day. Rundle Mall has some terrific arcades and an outdoor shopping precinct that is chock-full of world class stores including David Jones, Myer, Toys R Us, Hoyts cinemas and more. It's a shopper's paradise.
Adelaide is also know for its great markets, none bigger than the Adelaide Central Market which is internationally renowned. Hindley Street is better known for its thriving nightlife with a great selection of pubs and clubs but also has plenty of shopping options and nearby alternatives include King William Road, Unley Road and the Norwood Parade, which boast a vast array of fashion and homewares, while Magill Road is the best place for antiques and quirky gifts. In North Adelaide, the streets are wide and tree-lined and there two main shopping precincts: Melbourne St and O'Connell St.
ADELAIDE is a winner with its markets. The Adelaide Central Market is the premier marketplace and is right in the heart of the city. There's a mountain of supplies of fresh produce, salamis, cheeses, olives and wood oven fired bread in continental stalls. It's then smells that haul you in. Grab a fresh lobster or oysters from the fish stalls, freshly baked bread rolls and snap up a bargain wherever you look.
Other great markets including Fisherman's Wharf at Port Adelaide, the Rundle Street Markets in the City's East End every Sunday which is transformed into a world of stalls selling jewellery, clothing, artwork, handbags, shoes and so much more. Also check the Adelaide Festival Centre Arts and Craft Market and the Junction Markets.
With so much to do in and around Adelaide there's no better way to get around that having your own means of transport. DriveNow helps you secure the very latest available deals from all of South Australia's leading car and campervan rental providers. Book your vehicle with DriveNow prior to your trip and the rest is easy when you arrive at one of the many rental pick up points around Adelaide and at Adelaide's International Airport. All the major car rental companies have branches conveniently located in the city centre largely around North Terrace.
DriveNow uses a clear and simple rate screen that lets you instantly compare rates, vehicles and suppliers. The booking process is quick, secure and easy with everything up front and no hidden fees, surcharges or surprises. An email confirmation provides you with all the details of your booking and where to collect your vehicle. DriveNow covers all major cities and airports in Australia, none more so than Adelaide, providing travellers with a great way for renting a car or campervan.
ADELAIDE has a thriving arts scene and some wonderful events throughout the year such as the Adelaide Fringe Festival in February-March, the Adelaide Bank Festival of Arts, the Tasting Australia event for wine buffs and foodies and the Adelaide International Guitar Festival when a string of genres collide including blues, jazz, classical, experimental, blues, African and more. But on most days of the week you can count on Adelaide coming alive at night in its enormous selections of pubs and clubs.
For the uninitiated, Rundle Street in the eastern part of town and Hindley Street in the west are two of the hotspots. Also keep your eye for some more laid-back sessions on weekend afternoons throughout the city. Here's some more lively ones to ponder:
Skycity Adelaide Casino is found in the historic Adelaide Railway Station and offers visitors a great mix of restaurants, bars, live music and gaming facilities. It boasts the fact it hires more than 600 musicians and bands each year dishing up a variety of musical flavours including Jazz, DJs, swing, rock, pop, acoustic, punk - you name it.
The Exeter in Rundle Street for a riot of a time, good beer and rockin' entertainment. Check out the wooden bar fridges.
The Stag Hotel claims to not only have the best steaks in town, but also the best party atmosphere. Dance club upstairs on weekends and bands occasionally rev up the front bar.
Others to consider include the contemporary house beats that emanate from the chic and cool Distill bar, a rager in Adelaide's 'east end', catch some grooving live bands at the Crown and Sceptre and Governor Hindmarsh hotels. Other travel websites point to hotspots being the Vodka Bar, The Garage, SAVY, Cargo Club, Kings Head, Banque Bar, Royal Oak and the Lion Hotel in North Adelaide, Boho Bar at Unley, Zootz at Henley Square and The Pier and Oyster Bar in Glenelg.
Big concerts usually turn up at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre in Hindmarsh or Thebarton Theatre. For opera, theatre and contemporary dance companies check the Adelaide Festival Centre, Her Majesty's Theatre in Grote Street and the Adelaide Town Hall hosts some touring arts companies.
The Adelaide Hills are home to rolling vineyards, the fresh country air and an array of native wildlife which you can visit at one of the region's national parks or wildlife sanctuaries.
Kangaroo Island - Picture an island seven times the size of Singapore with native bushland, gorgeous beaches and abundant with wildlife. Throw into the mix the idea of tranquil sunsets, sumptuous food and great wine after leisurely exploring the island and you have an amazing escape.
For Wine Lovers
For wine lovers, a short, leisurely drive will have you discovering world-famous Barossa Valley or McLaren Vale wine regions. The Barossa is home to some of the oldest Shiraz vineyards in the world, notable Rieslings and other stunning wines. The Barossa is a gourmet lover's paradise enriched in a strong cultural heritage reflected in its wine, food, buildings and people. McLaren Vale is known for excellent wine, food and five star hospitality, not to mention the region being the gateway to spectacular Fleurieu Peninsula.
Adelaide Zoo - Always a great tourism attraction, this zoo is home to 3500 animals, almost 300 species of exotic and native mammals, birds, reptiles and fish exhibited in magnificent botanic surroundings now spread out over 8 hectares and just a few minutes walk from Adelaide's city centre.
Adelaide Quick Links
Enjoy the thrill and stunning views with a hot air balloon ride at sunrise over Adelaide or Strathalbyn. hotairballoonrides.com.au provides information and contact details on Australia's leading balloon operators.
The Essentials - Adelaide