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Published: December 22nd 2015
We stayed in Adelaide twice. The first time was initially scheduled to be a two night stay at the Mansions on Pulteney Apartments but our poor planning reduced it to one night on 21.11.15. We arrived at 6.35 am following the bus journey from hell and I promptly went straight to bed.
The steep descent into Adelaide was quite spectacular. The city seems to sit in a bowl, with the sea on one side and hills on the other three. It looked really pretty in the early morning sunshine and I was immediately taken with it. We got a taxi to the Mansions, which was apparently built in the 1910s and it sits next door to a church. (Just as a by-the-by, Australia has LOTS of churches. They are not particularly well used in this day and age, but they are all well kept. It seemed like every street corner in Adelaide had one.) The Mansions was built to house rich folk in times past and it has had a mixed history, approaching dereliction at one point. The rooms were absolutely enormous with a fully equipped kitchen, seating area with balcony, bedroom area, a huge bathroom and masses of storage
space. Shame we were only there the one night, as we didn't even unpack! Some of the apartments are still owner-occupied and I can see why. It was lovely - charming and historical and it had turrets (I'd kill to live in a house with turrets!!). The apartment was just round the corner from Rundle Mall, a very funky shopping area. It was strange to hear street buskers singing 'Frosty the Snowman' in 80° sunshine. That evening the skies were lit up with strobe lighting and sirens wailed well into the night. I suspect this had more to do with the AC/DC performance than with nefarious activities in the area or a normal night down town but who knows?
Our second visit to Adelaide was on our return from Alice Springs on 29.11.15 when we flew back. Our flight approach was turbulent and bumpy (all the updraughts from those surrounding hills!) but we were able to see an international cricket match taking place in the Adelaide Oval. If anyone was watching the game and heard a plane flying over, that was us!!! I'm told Australia won ... The airport is modern and clean with all the facilities you might
expect, including a shuttle bus into town which we caught to take us to the Hotel Grand Chancellor on Hindley which was, indeed, very grand and situated, I was told by a Goth couple who looked as though they would know these things, in a 'happening' area which they likened to Liverpool back at home. I don't know what they based this on - reputation or a visit perhaps? - but I kind of got what they were trying to convey. Parts were a bit rough and ready around the edges, there was an occasional frisson of excitement and every now and then something completely unexpected or out of place happened - watching the guy in his pyjamas on a tricycle taking his cat and chicken for a ride in the back springs to mind.
The Adelaideans seemed much more friendly and amenable than the people in Melbourne. The city is of course, much smaller, with a population of 1.2m, and had a much more 'intimate' feel. I was told it was the first 'free' city to be founded after free men got fed up of living in penal colonies and decided to do something about it and build
a city of their own. It was founded by just three men. It has just one tram but they are very proud of it, and a free city circular bus which we used to get a feel for the city. We loved all this free transport! It is laid out in a grid system and has some lovely old buildings intermingled with new but fairly bland modern stuff. We stumbled across Blackeby's, an olde worlde sweet shop, that keeps its sweets in jars and smelled just wonderful and reminded us both of childhood. We had a drink in the Black Bull opposite our hotel, now a bar and restaurant, which proclaims itself to be the first hotel established in Adelaide in about 1838. All buildings built in the 1800s proudly display that fact in some form or another, be it in the keystones of the buildings themselves or in banners on the outside and as many historical features as possible are preserved, especially the iron fretwork that surrounds many of the balconies and verandahs that were so popular at the time. Even modern buildings continue that theme and the filigree fretwork is both functional and decorative. It doesn't seem to
rust and looks really pretty. And wonder of wonders, there were no flies!
1.12.15 was the first day of summer in Australia and the temperature plummeted from 73°F the previous day down to 57°F. What is it with the weather? It was cold, windy and rainy and this was the day we planned to go to the Cleland Wildlife Park. We almost didn't go but decided to risk it in the end. I went equipped with my 'take it anyway, it doesn't weigh anything' cagoule, for which I was thankful; Steve went with nothing more than a positive attitude and got wet! We caught a city bus to the outskirts, then another up to the park itself. It went via Mount Lofty and stopped there for 10 minutes which was just long enough for me to buy a couple of postcards of the lighthouse and take a photo of what is normally an outstanding view of the city beneath but instead was grey and rainy. We met a couple from Lancashire whilst waiting for the second bus; they had also arranged their 7 week trip from their computer at home, had travelled in a campervan (he didn't look tall
enough to reach the pedals!) and were staying in a cabin on the outskirts of the city. They looked to be approaching their 80s so there's hope for many years to come yet!
I'm not really into zoos (I'm not thrilled to see animals in captivity) but wildlife parks are a different ballgame in my view as the animals have space to roam (almost) freely and assume their natural behaviours. Of course, there are always exceptions in both categories (I'm not sure I would call a wildlife park in Doncaster the natural habitat of polar bears but it tries very hard!) and there is some wonderful conservation/preservation work taking place in both types of setting.
I had a brilliant time at the park, Steve not so much. I was able to feed a kangaroo, who ate from my hands (with mum keeping a beady eye on me from close by) and some potoroos; we saw some emus, Tasmanian Devils, wallabies, dingoes, loads of birds and, my favourite, the wombats. I was able to get up close and personal to Rupert the (koala) bear who had scoliosis, bless him, and had been abandoned by his mum but was now
leading a perfectly happy life eating eucalyptus leaves at the park.
In the cafe afterwards, getting warm and dry, the cashier pointed out that the two photographers who had taken the photos on the postcards I was buying had just come in to the cafe behind me. We all had a silly, giggly 10 minutes where they signed a couple of their cards, had their picture taken with me and really joined in with the spirit of the moment. It was a hoot with everyone else in the cafe, including Steve, wondering what on earth was going on. I think he thought his wife had found sudden fame/been mistaken for someone else/committed some dreadful crime which involved her arrest by two strapping men and having her mugshot taken. Anyway, he decided to stay schtum and pretend not to be with me. Sadly/happily, it was none of those things. I shall put their signed cards next to a signed picture from Chris Packham when I get home, so they will be in the esteemed company of another wildlife photographer!
On our final day in Adelaide we visited the Immigration Museum which told a long, sad story which made me
almost embarrassed to be British. The cashier gave me the postcards I wanted to buy for free as she had already cashed up and couldn't give me change from the only note I had (I made a donation instead).
Overall, I really liked Adelaide. It is smaller than Sydney and Melbourne but bigger than Canberra and had enough about it to make it an interesting place to live, work and visit. And I got to cuddle Rupert!
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