Adelaide In Focus
My favourite city in Australia is increasingly being recognised as a cool global travel destination. It’s about time Adelaide got the recognition it deserves.
I know, I’m always talking about how great Adelaide is. Well, thankfully, I’m no longer alone. This week the always sharp New York Magazine boldly proclaimed Adelaide Instead of Sydney and then Lonely Planet named Adelaide as one of it’s top ten city destinations for 2014.
Growing up in Sydney, I always had this picture of Adelaide as a quaint, smaller city. Known as the City of Churches, Adelaide looked so inviting, being part of a state known for broadly progressive outlook on life, with close proximity to great wineries and perhaps the most picturesque major cricket ground in the world.
Well, the cricket ground is gone now, with Adelaide Oval soon to reopen as a gleaming new, largely generic sports stadium. But, in many other ways Adelaide is bristling with promise, a city that has made all the right moves in recent years, from a revitalised public transport system (with great light rail and an emphasis on cycling and pedestrianisation) to a swag of urban renewal projects, all without losing the small city charm.
I’ve been writing about Adelaide incessantly for the past few years, not just on this blog but also via email to friends, colleagues and editors of major international magazines. It makes no sense to me that cities like Sydney and Melbourne get all the international attention when Adelaide has so much going for it.
During the past week in Adelaide, I was reminded of all the things I love about this city. A morning spent exploring the up and coming Ebenezer Place area started with a visit to the excellent urban and classic bike store Treadly, where I picked up a Knog bike lock and Cruex cycling t-shirt (both designed in Australia). Then it was time to visit the newly relocated Council of Objects, store which sells locally made and sourced designer and artisan home-wares (my daughter picked up a delightful Herbert and Friends cushion).
After that, it was time for some new (Mister Freedom) jeans from Right Hand Distribution, who stock excellent, classic fit limited edition denim and even cut and finish the length of your jeans in-store, while you wait, on a vintage double stitch machine with a special foot for sewing jean cuffs. The morning was finished off in style, well, my kind of style, with a visit to Burger Theory, who sell thoughtfully made 100% local beef hamburgers to a mostly hipsterish crowd.
Cool shopping aside, Adelaide is such a great place for the arts. Always well known for its festivals, the standout is probably SALA, the month long South Australian Living Artists Festival. The largest visual arts festival in Australia, SALA is all about the life and work of the artists that live in and around Adelaide (rather than the imported art that fills big festivals in “art hubs” like Hong Kong). Thousands of local artists exhibit every year in over 500 venues around Adelaide and the state of South Australia.
Over the past few years I’ve spent 8-10 weeks a year in Adelaide, taking thousands of photos, composing music and writing everything from short stories to newspaper columns. And, it’s also where I love to play, whether it’s cooking up delights from the Central Market, sampling the excellent local wines (I recommend Torbrek, Pikes, Coriole and Samuel’s Gorge), walking the serene beaches or cycling from one cafe to another.
Yes, it’s a great city for a holiday but also, it’s a great place to recharge artistically, with epic skies, marvellous light, friendly people and a city that still operates on a human scale. I’m glad the rest of the world is finally catching onto this.