Adelaide (population 1.3 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.
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, 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:
South Australia Maritime Museum 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. (126 Lipson Street, open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
National Railway Museum 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. (76 Lipson Street, open daily, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
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 at 1 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. weekdays when Parliament is not 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. (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. Guided tours are available from March 2016. The museum also hosts regular exhibitions. (288 North Terrace, open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; weekends and public holidays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.)
The National Wine Centre of Australia: Wine enthusiasts will appreciate the 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. Tour and tastings 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (corner of Botanic and Hackney Roads, open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays from 9 a.m. to 7 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. (253 Grenfell Street, City Centre, open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., free to the galleries and gallery shop)
Jam Factory Craft & Design Centre: These award-winning shops feature contemporary art, glass, jewelry and crafts by local artists. (locations on Rundle Mall and 19 Morphett Street, City Centre and Seppeltsfield Road, Seppeltsfield)
Botanic Gardens: Established in 1855, the 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 Visitor Informaton Centre, Schomburgk Pavilion at 10:30 a.m. A restaurant, cafe and snack kiosk are also located on the site. (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 center. Visitors can walk among kangaroos, emus, koalas and an aviary of native birds. (365 Mount Lofty Summit Road, daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
By shuttle: Cruise lines most likely will offer a shuttle service from within the port area to the center of Port Adelaide and/or to the city center of Adelaide.
By public transporation: Buses (bus route 150) and taxis are also available to the city. The rail line is directly opposite the international passenger terminal and travels regularly to Port Adelaide and Adelaide. Once in the city, the free, intra-city routes use both trams and buses to provide access to most sites and attractions. Routes include City Loop bus (99C) and the Terrace to Terrace Tram service.
On foot: Adelaide's city center is flat, compact and easy to explore on foot.
By taxi: Cabs are widely available and can be hailed on the street or at a taxi stand. Taxis are metered, and most accept credit cards.
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 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 Big Table for great coffee, The TBar tea house, Lucia's Pizza & Spaghetti Bar, Comida for tapas and Sunmi's for sushi. (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 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. (Jolleys Lane, lunch Sunday through Friday from noon to 2 p.m.)
Port Adelaide is located approximately eight miles (13 kilometers) northwest of the city center. The passenger terminal is on Oliver Rogers Road, Outer Harbor.
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.
The local currency is the Australian dollar; check www.xe.com for the latest exchange rates. ATMs and foreign exchange offices are abundant, especially around Rundle Mall.
English is the official language.
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.; bookings essential -- call +61 (08)-8372-7077.
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.