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Adelaide - A treasure trove of shopping, fine arts and gastronomy
August 10, 2017, 3:57 pm
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Elegant and refined, Adelaide is Australia's fifth largest city and justifiably proud of its affluent heritage. Magnificent private mansions and grand public buildings command an important place amid modern high-rises. Museums, galleries, and gardens are some of the city's finest treasures, and lovers of the arts can indulge in opera, symphony, and a flourishing live music scene. But despite these big-city tourist attractions, parklands ring the city and wide boulevards seem refreshingly uncrowded, while rural landscapes and day trips are a mere 20-minute drive from the bustle.

Glenelg: In the sheltered and surf-free Gulf St Vincent, the seaside village of Glenelg is a popular escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Sidewalk cafés, boutique hotels, and lively summer entertainment impart a holiday feel, and tourists will find plenty of family-friendly attractions. Kids can catch their thrills at The Beachouse, an amusement park packed with rides including a giant waterslide, bumper boats, and Ferris wheel. Those seeking a quieter visit can bask on the beach, or cast a fishing line off the pier.

Victoria Square: In the center of the city, at the intersection with Grote Street and Wakefield Street, King William Street opens out into the revamped Victoria Square, an event venue with beautifully laid out gardens. On the south side, stands the imposing Magistrates' Courthouse (1851) with a Doric colonnade and the neoclassical Supreme Court (1868). On the east side of Victoria Square lies the Treasury Building adjoining the Town Hall, and St Francis Xavier Cathedral (1856-1926). Other features of the square include a statue of Queen Victoria and a charming fountain by John Dowie, with figures representing the three principal rivers of South Australia, the Murray, the Torrens, and the Onkaparinga.

Port Adelaide: Located about 14 km northwest of the city center, Port Adelaide is a popular tourist destination with dolphin-spotting cruises and a clutch of intriguing transport-themed museums including a National Railway Museum, South Australian Aviation Museum and the South Australian Maritime Museum where visitors can browse interesting exhibits on the region's seafaring history. Seafood lovers head to the Fishermen's Wharf Markets on Sundays to buy fresh-caught fish straight from the boats.

Fleurieu Peninsula: This is one of Adelaide's most popular day trip destinations. Rolling hills, farms, fantastic surf beaches, and upscale dining lure foodies and city slickers looking for a slower pace. Victor Harbour is the largest and one of the most popular towns along this rugged peninsula. From here, visitors can hop aboard a seasonal whale-watching cruise or fishing charter, surf one of the south coast swells, cast a line from one of the windswept beaches, or take a horse-drawn tram to Granite Island with its dwindling colony of Little Penguins.

Barossa Valley and Clare Valley: Settled by Prussian and English immigrants, the Barossa Valley is one of Australia's oldest grape-growing regions. Foodies will be in heaven here with the plethora of fresh produce and fabulous restaurants. In addition to all the gastronomic delights, visitors will find some cultural treasures in the region such as heritage trails, cookery schools, craft stores, galleries, and museums. A little further afield, the rolling green hills of the Clare Valley also nurture a rich grape-growing history and thriving gourmet food culture.

North Terrace: A handsome tree-lined boulevard graced by historic and cultural treasures, North Terrace is a great place to kick off a city tour. Parliament House, at the intersection of King William Street and North Terrace, is perhaps the most imposing building in Adelaide with its monumental colonnade. Just down the street, cheek by cheek, the State Library of South Australia, the South Australian Museum, and the Art Gallery of South Australia, offer a triple dose of art and culture and are three of the city's top attractions.

Adelaide Botanic Garden: Wander through the wrought iron gates at the East end of North Terrace and enter a wonderland of botanical treasures. Established in 1855, Adelaide Botanic Garden features educational themed plantings such as medicinal plants, a Mediterranean garden, Australian native species, and a wetland designed to sequester enough water to eventually irrigate the entire grounds.

Cleland Wildlife Park: Less than a 20-minute drive from the city center on the northwestern slopes of Mount Lofty, Cleland Wildlife Park cares for a cute and cuddly bunch of Aussie animals in a naturalistic environment. Kangaroos, wallabies, potoroos, and emus roam freely in the wide-open spaces, and visitors can wander among them, feed them, and enjoy close-up encounters. Photographers will have a chance to capture some excellent shots, and the interactive keeper presentations provide interesting details about the animals and their habitats.

Art Gallery of South Australia: In the heart of Adelaide's cultural precinct, the Art Gallery of South Australia exhibits one of Australia's finest art collections. The collection crosses all mediums, from sculpture, paintings, textiles, metalwork, and photographs to ceramics, jewelry, and furniture.

South Australian Museum: This is a top research facility renowned for its Aboriginal heritage collections. In addition to the excellent Australian collection, visitors can peruse artifacts from the South Pacific Islands in the permanent Pacific Cultures Gallery, gaze upon Egyptian antiquities, and learn about local flora and fauna in the South Australian Biodiversity Gallery.

Ayers Historic House Museum: This is one of the finest examples of Regency architecture in Australia. Originally a modest house built in 1846, it was owned from 1855 to 1878 by Henry Ayers, for many years prime minister of South Australia. Ayers transformed it into an elegant 40-room mansion with a large new dining room and a ballroom. It now belongs to the National Trust of South Australia and is a popular event venue, but visitors are welcome to view the house on a guided tour.

During the tours, guests learn fascinating tidbits about the social history of the period as well as the life and work of Sir Henry Ayers. The interior is famed for its beautiful decorative painted finishes on internal walls and ceilings. On display is a collection of period decorative arts, furniture, silver, and artwork as well as changing exhibitions. Entry to the house is only permitted on a guided tour.

Adelaide Central Market: This is a favorite shopping spot and one of the oldest indoor markets in the world. Founded in 1870, these colorful markets feature fresh fruit and vegetables, flowers, baked goods, cheeses, and a mouth-watering array of multicultural culinary treats. After browsing the produce-packed stalls, shoppers can enjoy a meal at one of the many cafés in the area or the Asian restaurants in nearby Chinatown.

Adelaide Festival Centre: A 5-minute walk from North Terrace and Rundle Mall, the Adelaide Festival Centre was Australia's first multi-functional arts venue and excites both locals and tourists with its lively cultural calendar. Its white tent-like roof structure is a distinctive landmark along the River Torrens. In addition to the large 2,000-seat Festival Theatre, the venue is home to several smaller theaters, a banquet room, light-filled gallery, and an amphitheater for concerts and recitals.

 

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