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
Adelaide City Morning Sightseeing Tour
A perfect blend of old and new, from historic buildings to modern architecture, picturesque parks and the regions finest food and wine, Adelaide has something for everyone.
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...