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City Profile : Adelaide

After packing up camp in Mannum and spending the morning feeding the animals at the Big Rocking Horse, we drove into Adelaide and experienced big city sights for the first time in almost a month.  Our first stop? Coopers Brewery for an educational tour about how to brew excellent beer.


Afterwards, we met up with one of Juz’s mates before finding a place to stay while we explored the wine capital of Australia.  The busy time of year made things a little difficult but we found a great little caravan park just south of the city called Brown Hill Creek Caravan Park.


The next day, we woke early and set off for the city centre to do as much exploring as possible within a certain budget.  Stay tuned for our $100 Day post on Adelaide.  It was a great success!  Sunday was spent along the coast at Glenelg and Brighton.  It got close to 40 degrees so we were pleased to cop the cool sea breeze.


The city of Adelaide has a very relaxed lifestyle.  There aren’t as many cafes and restaurants as there are in Melbourne, but there is still a diverse multicultural mix that was evident as we explored the various precincts.  Chinatown on Moonta Street is the place for a dumpling or two while the best kebab in town is apparently on Hindley Street, which also happens to feature the world’s filthiest McDonald’s outlet.


Fast Facts

  • Capital city of South Australia and is the fifth largest city in Australia
  • Founded in 1836 by Colonel Light, it now has a population of about 1.23 million Adelaideans
  • Also known as The City of Churches, the Green City, the Wine Capital of Australia, or the 20 Minutes City, due to its accessibility
  • Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens has the largest and oldest glasshouses in the southern hemisphere
  • Adelaide is Australia’s most environmentally sustainable city and is home to Tindo – the world’s first solar powered bus with wireless internet
  • Adelaide women were the first in Australia to be allowed to vote and stand for parliament.
  • Was the first city in Australia to put on an arts festival



The Adelaide area was first inhabited by the Kaurna tribe.  They used to call the area Tarndanya, which means male red kangaroo rock.  After European settlement, the population of the Karuna tribe dropped significantly due to introduced diseases.


The area was explored by Matthew Flinders and Charles Sturt before being deemed suitable for colonisation by Collet Barker, a British explorer who was eventually killed by natives.  In 1836, many ships set sail for South Australia, including the Rapid, which carried Colonel Light.  His job was to survey the area and find a place for settlement that had a harbour, fertile land, fresh water and building materials, and after finding just the right place, establishment commenced in 1837.



Adelaide summers are hot and dry with an average temperature of 28⁰C but the temperature can easily reach 40⁰C.  It was sweltering when we were there so we made sure we were well covered in both sunscreen and a hat.

In winter, it can be cold and wet with an average temperature of 16⁰C.



Points of Interest

Adelaide Central Markets 

This place was the best!  Adelaide’s Central Market has been in operation for over 130 years and features around 120 shops and stalls bursting with people and fresh produce.  Wander down the aisles and taste the delights at the Smelly Cheese Shop while you enjoy a delicious organic coffee from Big Table.   The markets are open from Tuesday to Saturday, every week and seriously, they’re excellent!



Botanic Gardens of Adelaide

We were excited about seeing this place.  Botanic gardens tend to be beautiful places where you can learn about the diversity of plants and the ecosystems they live in, but we never expected the Adelaide Botanic Gardens to be as splendid as it is.


The Palm House is a Victorian glasshouse that was imported from Germany in 1875 and is believed to be the only one left of its kind.  It houses a collection of plants from Madagascar, which require a warm and dry climate to survive.



The Santos Museum of Economic Botany was an incredible experience.  It was originally opened in 1881 and recently reopened in 2009 after a long period of restoration.  The beautiful building contains an amazing collection of botanical specimens that were considered useful to the European settlers – seeds, nuts, flowers and leaves, medicinal plants, models of fruit and fungi, EVERYTHING!  Some of the items were the original objects that were collected in 1865 and it was set up to teach people about the importance and usefulness of plants as food, medicine, tools and clothing.


The Amazon Waterlily Pavilion is an elegant glasshouse that contains a huge pond of Victoria amazonica waterlilies.  These amazing plants have lily pads that can span up to 165cm while the flower can measure 30cm in diameter.  Coopers Brewery is proudly one of the contributors to this beautiful energy-efficient enclosure, which was built in 2007.


The Bicentennial Conservatory was an indoor rainforest that was hot and humid inside.  As we walked through, water was expelled from the ceiling and sprinkled us with a refreshing mist.  It was built in 1988 to celebrate Australian’s bicentenary and is the largest conservatory in the southern hemisphere.



South Australian Museum

Free to enter and explore, the SA museum on North Terrace has a variety of permanent exhibitions such as the South Australian Biodiversity Gallery that displays animals from all habitats, as well as the Opal Fossils that expose pre-historic reptiles and crustaceans from millions of years ago.  The Pacific and Aboriginal Cultures Galleries provide insight into the lives of islanders and aboriginals – hunting, fishing, war and everyday activities.


Open daily from 10am to 5pm, it’s definitely worth having a look around.



Rundle Mall & Adelaide Arcade

This section of Adelaide is closed off to vehicles and is similar to Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne.  The retail opportunity is the same as in any shopping centre, but you have the dynamic atmosphere of being in the centre of the city.  We enjoyed strolling past the shops that were blasting their air conditioners to cope with the heat of the day.  As a result, the thoroughfare was quite cool.



The Rundle Mall Fountain indicates the entrance of Adelaide Arcade, a walkway that was built in 1885 and features about 100 specialty shops on both the ground floor and balcony.  There is a small museum on the balcony level that displays photographs and newspaper articles.


Adelaide-Himeji Gardens

In 1982, arrangements were made for Adelaide and Himeji in Japan to establish a sister city relationship that will secure peace, encourage cultural understanding and economic exchange.



The gardens were a gift from Himeji in 1985 and incorporate two classic Japanese styles – senzui takes inspiration from lakes and mountains to create a sense of space, while kare senzui is a dry garden that uses rocks and sand to create the illusion of water, or the ocean.


Coopers Brewery

Adelaide is home to Coopers Brewery, the largest Australian-owned brewery and largest producer of home brew kits in the world! Mad for sustainability, they have an onsite cogeneration plant that powers the plant and feeds back into the grid, they draw water from underground aquifers that are purified with reverse osmosis and any spent grain left over from the brewing process is sold back to farmers as stockfeed.


Apart from being environmentally friendly, the Coopers empire is also extremely charitable and the cost of your ticket to the brewery tour goes straight to the Coopers Brewery Foundation.  Check out our post on the Coopers Brewery Tour.


Mount Lofty

On the outskirts of Adelaide is Cleland Conservation Park and the Mount Lofty Summit, which sits 710m above sea level.  It was named by Captain Matthew Flinders in 1802 when he sighted in from Kangaroo Island.


An 16.5m obelisk was built in 1885 as a survey station to establish longitude and latitude of places around Adelaide.  It was later named the Flinders Column in 1902 and was whitewashed to make it more visible to ships in the St Vincent’s Gulf.



Over the years, bushfires have raged through the area and caused millions of dollars worth of damage and after the Ash Wednesday disaster, a new Mt Lofty Summit Visitor Centre was developed and opened in 1997.


Glenelg & Brighton

Accessible via the Anzac Highway or free tram that travels to and from the city, Glenelg is Adelaide’s answer to St Kilda in Melbourne.  A seaside suburb with white beaches and palm trees that attracts all the young kids to jump off the pier, play beach volley ball, go shopping for a midriff top and eat some ice cream.


Established in 1836 as the original site of SA’s mainland settlement, Glenelg has grown to be a popular spot amongst the tourists and locals, with a flashy marina, cosmopolitan buildings and a vibrant nightlife.  It hosts heaps of public events every year, like bike races, volleyball tournaments, food and wine festivals, fun runs and the State’s largest New Years Eve celebrations.



A few kilometres down the road is Brighton, a much more modest and relaxed coastal spot but with all the same delights.  Cafés, restaurants, the Arch of Remembrance and the Brighton Jetty – the start and finish line of South Australia’s largest ocean swimming event, the Brighton Jetty Classic.  Surrounded a summertime atmosphere and beautiful beaches, this was our location for a nice picnic lunch.



Grind It, Glenelg

We sought out this café in Glenelg and we were really impressed with what we found.  Great service, delicious coffee and an impressive menu that got us salivating for second breakfast.


The Edinburgh Hotel, Mitcham

This place was awesome.  Great food, great atmosphere, great beer garden… and with a pint and parmi for $12, you can’t go wrong.  Check out our post on the Edinburgh Hotel.



The Big Table, CBD

This cute little café inside the Central Markets was the first sign of decent coffee in Adelaide.  Young hipsters and dreadlocked lasses are usually an indication of great coffee and we weren’t disappointed.


The Franklin Hotel, CBD

A funky pub with a great atmosphere and cool beer garden, complete with Hills Hoist.  We had a quick pit stop here after riding around the city and conquering the Central Markets.



Thanh Thanh Vietnamese Restaurant, CBD

It was supposed to be the best Vietnamese restaurant in Adelaide but Juz wasn’t particularly impressed.  Still, the food did provide adequate fuel for the day.



Vili’s Cafe, Mile End

We were advised to check this place out, and after a pie, sausage roll and plateful of chips, gravy and schnitzel, we weren’t particularly impressed.  Check out our post on Vili’s Cafe.



Adelaide Central YHA135 Waymouth Street, Adelaide 5000 – 08 8414 3010

BIG4 Adelaide Shores Caravan Park – Military Road, West Beach – 08 8355 7320


Brownhill Creek Caravan Park – Brownhill Creek Road, Mitcham – 8271 4824

This holiday park has it all – cabins, ensuite and caravan sites, powered and unpowered sections for campers, toilet blocks with showers, laundry facilities, a swimming pool, a fully equipped camp kitchen and multiple BBQs around the park.


What makes this place extra special though are the permanent residents.  Some have been there for about 5 years and provide a welcoming sense of community.  If you decide to stay here for a few nights, get to know your neighbours – they’re a great bunch of people – and don’t forget to check out the tepee at the back of the park.



We had the pleasure of having a Christmas celebration with the crew.  A $5 donation entitled us to snags in bread, wine and beer and great conversations with well-travelled folk.  We had a fantastic night and wished we could have stayed for Christmas.

Find the best deal and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor


Visitor Information Centres

South Australian Visitor Information Centre, 108 North Terrace

Adelaide Visitor Information Centre, Rundle Mall


Getting Around

Adelaide’s public transport system includes trains, trams and buses.


You need to have a Metroticket to travel around Adelaide on public transport and the ticket needs to be validated when you begin your journey.  Metrotickets can be purchased on all forms on transport, as well as at newsagents, convenience stores and at the Adelaide Metro InfoCentre at the corner of King William and Currie Streets.


There are a few different types of tickets:

  • Singletrip tickets are valid for two hours and cost $4.90
  • Daytrip tickets are valid from the time of validation to 4:30am the next morning and cost $9.10.
  • Multitrip tickets contain 10 Singletrip tickets and cost $31.90.


There are also Interpeak tickets that are only valid between 9am and 3pm Monday to Friday, and Two Section tickets which allow you to travel two sections of the public transport system, which works out well if you aren’t far away from your destination.  One section is equivalent to the distance between two train stations or four tram stops.


Adelaide is currently working on a new smartcard ticketing system called Metrocard.  For more information, visit the Adelaide Metro website


There is also a free tram service between Glenelg and the city.


Adelaide City Bikes is a green initiative that allows you to hire a bike for free between 9am and 5:30pm.  Hire includes a helmet and bike lock and you need to leave a current passport or driver’s license as deposit.


Bikes are available from several places around the city.  For more information, check out the Adelaide City Bikes brochure.