Sophisticated, cultured, neat casual − this is the self-image Adelaide projects, a nod to the days of free colonisation without the 'penal colony' taint. Adelaidians may remind you of their convict-free status, but the city's stuffy, affluent origins did more to inhibit development than promote it. Bogged down in the old-school doldrums and painfully short on charisma, this was a pious, introspective place.
But these days things are different. Multicultural flavours infuse Adelaide's restaurants; there's a pumping pub, arts and live-music scene; and the city's festival calendar has vanquished dull Saturday nights. And, of course, there's the local wine. Residents flush with hedonism at the prospect of a punchy McLaren Vale shiraz or summer-scented Clare riesling.
That said, a subtle conservatism remains. 'What school did you go to?' is a common salvo from those unsure of your place in the social hierarchy, while countercultural urges bubble up through Adelaide's countless sex shops, kung-fu dojos and huge bottle shops.
Just down the tram tracks is beachy Glenelg, Adelaide with its guard down and boardshorts up; and Port Adelaide, a historic enclave slowly developing into SA's version of Fremantle. Inland, Adelaide's winking plains rise to the Adelaide Hills, just 12 minutes up the freeway. The Hills' gorgeous valley folds, old-fangled towns and cool-climate vineyards are all close at hand.
Best places to stay in Adelaide
Central Australia travel guide (Adelaide to Darwin)
Central Australia is vast and utterly diverse: festival-addicted cities, wine regions and brilliant beaches, desert tracks, Aboriginal cultural experiences and – of course – iconic Uluru (Ayers Rock).
Ultimate Australian weekend escapes
Australians spend more than AU$51 billion on domestic travel every year and the latest stats from Tourism Australia suggest Aussies are trading long languid holidays for shorter stays focussed on making the most of a destination...
Central Australia (Adelaide to Darwin) - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to Central Australia starts here. You’ll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go and when, how much to budget, plus in-depth info on indigenous Australia.
Top 5 reasons to head to Adelaide in 2014
Having always lived in the shadow of its gregarious eastern-seaboard cousins, the ‘City of Churches’ has been quietly loosening its pious shackles and embracing its liberal foundations. Like a perfectly cellared red, this effortlessly chic city is ready to be uncorked and sampled...
Central Australia (Adelaide to Darwin) - Darwin to Uluru (Chapter)
From the tropics to the deserts, the Northern Territory (NT) is a splendid place to be during Australia’s winter months. Access is easy, with good roads and air connections; however, the vast distances ensure a good dose of adventure...
Heysen Trail and the Flinders Ranges
Spectacular trekking in the remote Flinders Ranges while staying in delightful outback properties
Art Expedition Flinders Ranges
Artists exploration of the remote Flinders Ranges with artist Leo Robba
Australia - Adelaide & South Australia (Chapter)
South Australia is a celebration of life’s finer things. Chilled-out Adelaide offers world-class festivals, dining and a hedonistic arts scene. Long-established wine regions are a day trip away, Kangaroo Island’s wildlife awaits just offshore, or...