There are places I have visited on multiple occasions for holidays and leisure pursuits. These include the Peak District, Lake District, Malvern Hills, and Norfolk Broads. A mention of these very English locations may not make you salivate at the prospect of following in my footsteps, but they have the undoubted benefits of being familiar, easy to get to by car, full of great places to walk and cycle, great pubs and cafes, and easy on my wallet. I look forward to further visits in the future.
Conversely, there are places which I have visited only once or twice, which I shall always rate as deeply memorable – most notably Moscow, New York (my thoughts on these to be written up separately), and very specifically, the subject of this entry, Adelaide, South Australia.
Sue and I went there as a result of her qualifying to represent Team GB in her age-group, at the Duathlon World Championships in October 2015. (Please see My Wife, the International in this series, for how this came about).
We have no family down under, and hadn’t found a compelling reason to visit, on the basis that it’s a long way, and one would have to spend a minimum of 3 weeks there to begin to do justice to such a large continent.
On this occasion, we opted for a 12 day, one location visit, and I, in particular, was totally bowled over by the place.
It was a long flight from Newcastle on Emirates, shared with the Tonga rugby union team which had just been knocked out of the World Cup, but fortunately with only one change of ‘plane, and a 2 hour break, in Dubai. We arrived at around midnight Oz time, but my body clock was in meltdown by this time, and it could have been any time of day or night. It was their summer, and gratifyingly warm at our late hour of arrival. A short ride from the airport brought us to the team hotel, and one of the best one in town, the InterContinental.
Having grabbed a few hours sleep, we awoke to the daylight, and the first view of Adelaide. Parkland dotted with trees not found in the UK, the sound of birds not heard in the UK, the broad (at this point) River Torrens, and across to the impressively imposing Adelaide Oval cricket ground. Reminder to self at the time – be sure to take a guided tour.
Breakfast duly taken, we were out taking in the sights of this handsome city – a beguiling combination of the imposing Victorian architecture of the city fathers, the very modern in the business district, and what seemed like streets from a cowboy movie, just back from the main thoroughfare, North Terrace.
Of course, this was a ‘business’ visit, in terms of acclimatising before Sue’s event, so her needs came first, but we were left with plenty of opportunities to explore the city and the surrounding area, in temperatures of 35-40C. Yes, it was hot, but the heat was so dry, it was more like someone pointing a hair-dryer at you, rather than standing in a pool of your own perspiration. I never tired of this weather.
Rather than ramble on, here are a few of the memorable and magical moments spent in the Adelaide district:
- Glenelg – not just a palindrome, but Adelaide’s big beach, and a few stops on the tram from the CBD (Central Business District)
- The City Hall – where we went for an evening concert
- The University – Victorian but could have been built yesterday – no air pollution here
- The Museums – particularly seeing Tarnanthi – the Aboriginal Art Festival – both stunning in its elegance, and evocative of life before and after the English came and impeded their way of life
- The Migrant Settler Exhibition. It wasn’t all roses for the (predominantly) English migrants, particularly those on a £10 passage after World War 2
- The many memorials to Aboriginal life as it was before the settlers came
- Hahndorf – back in the Adelaide Hills, and where Germans came to settle. We took the bus (they even accepted my UK bus pass, which is more than they would in Cardiff!). We walked up the hill from there to The Cedars – the Hans Heysen Art Studio, where he lived and worked. His old car was still in the garage
- Mount Lofty – the viewing point over Adelaide, and time spent there with Peter and Marilyn, whom we had met on a cycling holiday in France
- The burble of the ubiquitous V6 and V8 Holden cars – petrol is cheap in Oz
- The Adelaide Oval – a gem of a modern sports arena, with its original 1911 scoreboard and scoring mechanism still in place. I had the grand tour along with a few others from Oz and NZ. We all had to introduce ourselves and say where we were from. I was up last, and introduced myself as the ‘token Pom’ – to much hilarity. Lovely, experienced guides took us around for a couple of hours
- It’s CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN
- The people were fine and friendly, with no ‘side’ to them. It’s worth adding that Adelaide was established as a settler-colony, not a penal-colony, and named after Queen Adelaide, consort to King William IV.
- Just sitting in the Botanic Gardens amongst the native trees and birdsong in the sunshine
One of my life’s great experiences, all told. Here’s Sue, on the side of the River Torrens, having just finished her event. The Adelaide Oval is in the background.