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Cruisin’ to Adelaide


I was excited to leave Hall’s Gap and the Grampians only because it meant I was venturing north into (I hoped) warmer weather. This was definitely the case. It was cool and drizzly leaving Hall’s Gap and the weather slowly improved on my way out of the mountains and into Stawell then Horsham. After taking a turn to a dead end road on the way through Horsham, I was on my way to the border of Victoria with South Australia. There is really nothing noting the leaving of Victoria and the entering of South Australia. I knew I was definitely in a new province once I arrived in Adelaide but aside from that there wasn’t much advising the change. I assumed it was close to the town called Bordertown but didn’t see any signage. The border ended up being between the towns of Nhill and Bordertown. Aside from the descriptive city names the only other indication was large signs along the highway advising drivers to ditch their fruits in the bins along the side of the road in case they are carrying fruit flies around the country.The majority of the 5 hour drive from Hall’s Gap to Adelaide was flat, green fields with a few trees on them. I was expecting to see things get dryer and browner but the land was still quite green for the whole drive. It actually got quite a vibrant green starting 100 kilometers out from Adelaide through Adelaide Hills.After spending so much time perusing the gardens Melbourne had to offer, I was excited to see Adelaide’s selection. In his book Down Under, Bill Bryson comments on how the parks in Adelaide are very refreshing and one can just step out of the city into parkland at any point(whereas Canberra, for example, is one BIG park). Alas, on the eve of my departure I regret that I only saw a couple of the smaller parks within the city circle. I spent the on day I had cruising around the city blocks, taking in the views from the free City Circle Bus and learning what I could about wine at the National Wine Center. Adelaide was originally not even on the list of places I would see so it was a pleasure to see some of it, if only a small piece.My random, self-guided walking tour started at the National Wine Center. I’m not sure what I was expecting to find there but I was disappointed. It’s part of the University of Adelaide and it is more set up as a nice place to hold conferences or parties than as an information center about wine. They do have a small section that describes the popular wines in all the areas of the countries and shows what the vines and grapes look like. There was a spacious room with some abstract painting on one side and a brief history of wine in the country on the other side. Other than requiring a microscope to read the writing it was very interesting to see the progression from the mid-1800’s to today of the red and white alcohols.According to the signs in the center there was a gallery down one of the hallways but all I could find were rooms with empty tables and blank projector screens. There were other arrows to vines and I thought it would be neat to venture out and see some but came to a locked door that said fire exit only. Odd. Breezing past the expensive cafe and the distracted receptionists, I scanned my map to make sure I was headed in the right direction for the Botanic Gardens. I never though I’d spend so much time in gardens on this trip but I’d say they are a main free attraction in the cities here and when the sun is shining I really don’t mind a walk through a park.IMG_1306Near the norther gate to the gardens, a massive semi-circular structure stood out of the foliage. Inside held a large amount of jungle species of trees and plants. I was hoping to take a quick look inside but they wanted 5 dollars to look at some green trees and I wanted to stay out in the sun anyways. I’ll be up in Cairns near the Daintree soon enough.The rest of the gardens were beautiful. There were a few glass structures that held slightly more exotic fauna than the land just outside. One held one pond of the biggest lilies I’ve ever seen. There were 4 informational boards near the pond. The first 2 I saw explained where he lilies were from, the other 2 showed a time-line of a beetle sex-fest held daily in the flowers of these lilies. The beetles have evolved to use the increasing heat from the closing lily flowers to take a break from eating 100% of their weight per day and have a cozy mating session with those trapped in the same lily. The lilies get pollinated too. It was a strange way to describe the process but it got my attention.The other glass building I ran stumbled upon held all manor of spiky green structures. There are certainly many species of cactus that I’ve never seen before.My hunger compass was pointing towards shops that sold things that are supposed to go into my stomach so I steered back into town and found a fantastic little baguette sandwich shop. One satay chicken baguette and a blueberry muffin later and I was refueled and ready to go.Downtown is organized into a grid of streets with King William Street up the middle, and North, South, East and West Terrace enclosing the outsides. Walk far enough and you’ll hit one of these streets and you’ll know exactly where you are(go outside them and you’ll drop off the edge of the earth though). Just past North Terrace is the Festival Centre, Convention Centre, University and Art Gallery. Further still across the Torrens River is the Adelaide Oval. Back over by the Botanic Gardens, where I was earlier, was the Adelaide Zoo. I’ll be going to the African Zoo in Dubbo and another large zoo in Sydney when I get back there so I didn’t want to wear off the novelty too soon.IMG_1344After coming back into the City Circle from the Adelaide Oval, I hopped onto the City Circle Bus. This one is not advertised nearly as well as the Melbourne one. Although, even that one took a few days for me to find. Not nearly as in depth as the free bus in Melbourne, the bus was back where I started within about 20 minutes and I departed, making my way towards the Rundle Street Mall. I was completely expecting to find an enclosed mall that was cool and quiet. I was met with a pedestrian only street that held many shops, local and foreign. After the obligatory look through the surf shops, I was satisfied jeans look the same as when I last bought a pair and hoodies still have hoods and cross the street to hit up the Macdonalds wireless.As a general rule I try to stay out of Macdonalds as much as I can. It’s greasy and American and all I can think of is the guy in Super Size Me throwing up after eating a super-sized meal, but their coffee isn’t too bad and they have free wireless. Damn internet, it will be the end of me. As a side note or two, offline gmail is the best thing in the world and facebook needs an offline app as well.Tomorrow, I’m off to Broken Hill for one night, then Dubbo for 2, then straight north to Cairns. As per the tourist style, I thought I’d be done in Adelaide, click my heels and be in Cairns but it will take a little bit longer that. By the beginning of next week though, I should be running around with crocodiles and swimming with sharks![gmap]