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Adelaide (population 1.5 million) is the capital of the state of South Australia, located in the southern central part of the country. Historically, it prospered as the center of a region dedicated to mining and agriculture endeavors. The city was laid out by Colonel William Light in 1836, and locals are quite proud of the fact that the community was the only early Australian capital funded by land sales and not built by convicts.
Today, it is an elegant, vibrant city and is home to world-renowned special events and festivals, such as the Adelaide Fringe. The city is also a culinary mecca with the greatest number of restaurants, per capita, of any Australian city.
The commercial center of Adelaide is a lovely, compact area surrounded by parks. It is well laid out, with museums and attractions easily accessible -- many between the Torrens River and North Terrace. Nearby, Rundle Street boasts the pedestrian Rundle Mall, which is the city's main shopping area. Four blocks south of Rundle Street is Victoria Square, the city's geographic center.
South Australia is the wine industry's powerhouse state, producing most of the nation's wine and boasting some of the oldest individual vines in the world. Within easy reach of Adelaide are some of Australia's most renowned wine regions: The Barossa and Adelaide Hills. The Barossa, home to Jacob's Creek, among others, has been producing wines for more than 150 years and is especially known for Shiraz. Adelaide Hills is renowned for pinot noirs, and another wine region in this area, Eden Valley, is famous for its Rieslings.
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Adelaide is home to Haigh's Chocolates, Australia's oldest chocolate maker. This South Australian treasure has several shops throughout the city and a Visitor's Centre (154 Greenhill Road, Monday through Saturday, free tours at 11 a.m.,1 p.m. and 2 p.m.; b essential -- call +61 (0)8-8372-7077, www.haighschocolates.com ).
Another delectable souvenir is wine from the Adelaide Hills and Barossa. Be sure to check with your cruise line and airline for policies, as you'll be required to check any wine purchases, rather than carry the bottles onboard.
English is the official language.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
The local currency is the Australian dollar; check www.xe.com for the latest exchange rates. ATM's and foreign exchange offices are abundant, especially around Rundle Mall.
Where You're Docked
Port Adelaide is located approximately eight miles (13 kilometers) northwest of the city center. The passenger terminal is on Oliver Rogers Road, Outer Harbor.
The area of Port Adelaide has been undergoing a renaissance of sorts, and many of the area's old warehouses have been converted into shops, galleries and eateries. The Visitor Information Centre (www.portenf.sa.gov.au), located at 66 Commercial Road, has tons of information on attractions and special events, as well as self-guided walking tour maps.
There are some notable museums in Port Adelaide:
The South Australia Maritime Museum (126 Lipson Street, open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., www.history.sa.gov.au) displays a number of permanent exhibitions, including one on South Australia's more than 850 shipwrecks. Another exhibition focuses on the famed Mosquito Fleet, the historic small cargo vessels that carried goods along the southern Australian coast until the 1960's.
The National Railway Museum (Lipson Street, open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., www.natrailmuseum.org.au) is Australia's largest railway museum. It features more than 100 exhibits representing State, Commonwealth and private railway operators on the three major rail gauges used in Australia.
From Port Adelaide
Cruise lines most likely will offer a shuttle service to the center of Port Adelaide and/or to the city center of Adelaide. Public transportation (bus route 150) and taxis are also available to the city center. The rail line is currently undergoing major track repairs, and, at press time, it was not operating.
On foot: Adelaide's city center is flat, compact and easy to explore on foot.
Buses & Trams: The free, intra-city routes use both trams and buses to provide access to most of the city's sites and attractions. Routes include City Loop bus (99C) and the Terrace to Terrace Tram service.
Taxis: Cabs are widely available and can be hailed on the street or boarded at a taxi stand. Taxis are metered, and most accept credit cards.
Watch Out For
If you plan to go wine-tasting, be sure to have a designated driver, or, better yet, hire a car and driver. Australia has very strict drinking and driving laws. In addition, the police regularly set up random breathalyzer checks in the wine regions.
Rundle Mall: The city's main shopping area features local department stores, boutiques, specialty shops, cafes and pubs. Watch for street entertainers, including mimes and musicians, and enjoy the people-watching on this pedestrian mall. There is also a Visitor's Information Centre just off Rundle Mall on King William Street.
North Terrace: Stroll along North Terrace, and ogle the gorgeous Edwardian and Victorian buildings and landmarks that include Parliament House with its 10 magnificent Corinthian columns (free guided tours at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily when Parliament is not in session and on Mondays and Fridays when in session), South Australian Museum (see below), Art Gallery of South Australia (open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., free) and Ayers House (see below).
South Australian Museum: The museum boasts the largest collection of Aboriginal art and artifacts in the world, including an exhibition that tells the story of the local Aboriginal people. The museum also has a well-respected collection of European art and a celebrated Egyptian Room (www.samuseum.sa.gov.au, North Terrace, daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., free).
Ayers House: Possibly one of the best examples of colonial regency architecture in Australia, the home of former South Australian Premier Sir Henry Ayers (for whom Ayers Rock was named), is now managed by the National Trust and features carefully restored period rooms. It also boasts two restaurants that are open to the public (www.ayershouse.com, 288 North Terrace, open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.).
The National Wine Centre: Wine enthusiasts will appreciate this centre's Wine Discovery Journey, an interactive display that lets visitors make their own virtual wines. Set in an architecturally stunning building, this Australian wine industry showcase examines everything from the challenges of winemaking to the pure enjoyment of drinking fine Australian wine. Visitors learn the role that wine has played in history, the position of Australian wine in today's international market and the relationship between food and wine (www.wineaustralia.com.au, corner of Botanic and Hackney Roads, open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
Tandanya: Australia's first major Aboriginal cultural center features contemporary and traditional Aboriginal performing and visual arts. The Centre has rotating exhibitions and an extensive gift shop (www.tandanya,com.au, 253 Grenfell, City Centre, open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., free).
Jam Factory Craft & Design Centre: These award-winning shops feature contemporary art, glass, jewelry and crafts by local artists (www.jamfactory.com.au, locations on Rundle Mall and 19 Morphett Street).
Been There, Done That
Botanic Gardens: Begun in 1855, the more-than-50-acre site features artificial lakes, a tropical rainforest and more. The Garden's Bicentennial Conservatory is the largest single span conservatory in the southern hemisphere. Free 1.5-hour tours of the gardens are offered daily from the main kiosk at 10:30 a.m. There are also a restaurant, a cafe and a snack kiosk (www.environment.sa.gov.au/botanicgardens/index.html, North Terrace, City Centre).
Cleland Wildlife Park: This park conserves a vital area of natural bushland in the Adelaide Hills, located 20 minutes southeast of the city centre. Visitors can walk among kangaroos and emus, pet cuddly koalas and walk through an aviary to see native birds (www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/sanpr/clelandconservationwp, Mount Lofty Summit Road, daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
Adelaide is a foodie's dream! There are more restaurants, per capita, than in any other Australian city. Cuisine ranges from ethnic options to "ModOz" (a culinary trend combining local ingredients with international techniques, traditions and flavors). And, in addition to the world-renowned wineries nearby, local breweries like Coopers brew a wide variety of gourmet ales, pilsners and stouts.
For a simple, traditional taste of Adelaide, visit any bakery and try a pastie (pronounced pah-stee), sausage roll or Balfours frog cake (an individual, frosted cake in the shape of a frog). Wash these down with a local favorite: Farmers Union iced coffee (sold in 600 ml -- roughly pint-sized -- cardboard milk containers). An interesting tidbit of information about Farmer's Union -- it is more popular in South Australia than Coca-Cola. That makes South Australia the only place in the entire world where a milk-based drink is sold more than a cola drink!
Adelaide Central Market: Founded in 1869, this market has hundreds of stalls selling fruits, vegetables, flowers, cheeses, seafood, meats and more. Grab lunch at any of the cafes or eateries there. We recommend the fancy patisserie Doyley's, The TBar tea house, Lucia's Pizza Bar and Sunmi's for sushi (www.adelaidecentralmarket.com.au, Gouger Street, open Tuesday through Sunday).
Chinatown: Just west of the Central Market is Adelaide's Chinatown. Locals often joke to "stick with the Chows" and recommend the tasty Ying Chow (114 Gouger Street, lunch daily), Ky Chow (82 Gouger Street, lunch Monday through Friday) and T Chow (68 Moonta Street, lunch daily) -- known for their signature duck dishes. All have extensive menus.
Paul's on Gouger: This institution, which has been around for more than 60 years, serves the freshest -- and best priced -- seafood in Adelaide. Ask for fish and chips made with King George Whiting (79 Gouger Street, lunch Monday through Friday).
Jolleys Boathouse: Dine riverside at Jolleys Boathouse on the banks of the Torrens. This renovated boathouse serves contemporary Australian cuisine with a focus on local ingredients in a sophisticated and serene setting (www.jolleysboathouse.com, Jolleys Lane, lunch Sunday through Friday from noon to 2 p.m.).
Staying in Touch
The passenger terminal has telephones, as well as free Wi-Fi. Several Internet and telephone centers are also located around the city center. And most -- if not all -- McDonald's locations in Australia offer free Wi-Fi!
Best for the First-Time Visitor: Take a city tour of Adelaide. Most include the city center, with visits to North Terrace, Rundle Mall, Victoria Square and Montefiore Hill. In addition, many of these tours take guests to nearby Mt. Lofty (elevation 2,100) for panoramic views of the city.
Best for Wildlife Viewing: Enjoy a full-day tour to Cleland Wildlife Park, where you can see koalas, pet kangaroos and learns about Australia's many indigenous animals, including wombats, dingoes and emus. These tours typically include a brief city tour, as well.
Best for Wine-Lovers or Repeat Visitors: Travel approximately one hour to one of Australia's premium wine districts, the Barossa, home to about 50 wineries. With more than 150 years of viticultural experience, the Barossa is Australia's foremost wine-producing region. These tours usually include wine tastings and lunch, as well as the opportunity to purchase wine.
For More Information
On the Web: The South Australian Tourism Commission at www.southaustralia.com/AboutAdelaide.aspx
Call South Australian Visitor & Travel Centre (18 King William Street) at 1300 655 276 or Rundle Mall Information Centre at +61 8 8203 7611
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--by Rose Abello, Cruise Critic contributor