Adelaide, located on Australia’s southern coastline a mere 124 miles (200 kilometres) northwest of Melbourne, is one of Australia’s hidden gems. It might have a population of over 1 million, but Adelaide is, as Bill Bryson wrote in his book In a Sunburnt Country, “…the most overlooked of Australia’s principal cities …” It seldom gets a mention in the national media. And it’s often bypassed by tourists who flock instead to Sydney, Melbourne, and the Gold Coast.

In short, it’s a city seldom thought of. And that’s a shame really because, as I discovered on a recent four day visit, Adelaide has a lot going for it.

tindoWanting to find out as much about Adelaide as possible in the short time we were here, I had organized to be shown around by a tour guide from Our Explorer.com. The plan was to take a walking tour around the central city, learning not only about it’s history but also about it’s green sustainability practices. But an unexpected heatwave, with temperatures in the high 30’s and low 40’s Celcius put paid to that idea.

Instead,  we hopped onto Tindo, the free Solar Bus which offered not only air conditioning but a great overview of Adelaide. Gary Locke from Our Explorer provided a running commentary, pointing out various landmarks around the city, including the new green Convention Center on the banks of the River Torrens.

adelaide bldgAlong the way, I learned that unlike most of Australia’s large cities, Adelaide had been built by immigrants instead of convicts. And build they did, as is evident by the number of  Victorian buildings scattered around the city and  historic churches on every other street corner. But it wasn’t all about building.  More than  45% of the city was designated as green space, ensuring plenty of gardens, parks, and sports fields for residents to enjoy.

 I also discovered that the Adelaide Zoo was being upgraded to accommodate two Pandas due to arrive from China later this year (Note to self – return to Adelaide next year to visit with Pandas).

An hour later, we were back where we had started from and I had a much clearer understanding of not only what makes Adelaide special (beautiful buildings and wide open green spaces) but also the best places for food (the Central Market), drink (The National Wine Center of Australia), and, more importantly, where to find shade (any large tree in the Botanic Gardens). 

adelaide central marketadelaide wine center

(Disclaimer: The OurExplorer tour guide was provided by the company free of charge)

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Liz Lewis is a New Zealand based writer who favors wine tasting and food markets over bungy jumping and mountain climbing.