Tag Archives: festival

It’s a total steal! 10 Awesome things to do in Adelaide for (almost) nothing; Part 2

3 May

Not long ago we posted our Top 10 things to do in Adelaide for (almost) nothing, Part 1. And now we’re back to finalise this little affair and make sure you all know how to get the most out of your limited budget while in Adelaide. So read in Part 2:

6. A CONCERT OR WHAT?

South Australia has been nicknamed ‘Australia’s Festival State’ , this is for one reason only – more than 400 festivals take place around the state every year. So whether you’re into sports, music, food and wine or comedy, there is something happening around you literally every day. Many of the events are free to attend (like the below pictured Orchestra Under the Stars concert in Elder Park) or you can always find a bargain ticket. The Adelaide Festival Centre offers great discounts and events for international students (for details on events coming up visit www.afct.org.au).

Also, there is a new arts access program for young people called the Fringe Benefits (www.fringebenefits.com.au). As a Fringe Benefits member you can enjoy exclusively discounted tickets to performing and visual arts events, major festivals, concerts and gigs all year round, plus special benefits at selected clubs, pubs and retail outlets.

7. HAIGH’S CHOCOLATE FACTORY

Whether you’re a true chocoholic or just like to nibble from time to time, Haigh’s Chocolate Factory is a paradise. Here you can enjoy special chocolate tastings, see chocolates being made and discover the heritage behind Haigh’s, Australia’s oldest chocolate manufacturer and a true Aussie icon, where chocolate is handmade. And  let me tell you a little secret – when you book a factory tour (which is free and takes about 20 minutes) you’ll get a few delicious samples to taste. Now if free chocolate is not amazing then I don’t know what is :)!

8. BEACHED AS

You might have heard of this but the beaches in Australia are free:). There are plenty of beaches in Adelaide and most of them are less than 30 minutes from the city. And what’s more, Adelaide’s warm climate means you can enjoy them practically all year round. The most popular are the iconic Glenelg, Henley, Brighton and West beach, all with a vibrant pub culture and full of cafés, restaurants, little shops and miles of clean white sand.

9. WINDOW SHOPPING MATE

Rundle Mall is the shopping heart of Adelaide, located right in the city centre. It was created in 1976 as Australia’s first pedestrian mall. You’ll find more than 600 retail stores and 15 arcades there, outdoor cafes and bars to relax in. The Mall is renowned as a venue for performances, promotions and events, from fashion parades, to buskers and street performers (I don’t have to remind you that all these are free, right?).

10. BOTANIC GARDENS

Are you a flora fan? Interested in Australian native plants? Head down to Adelaide Botanic Gardens in eastern part of the city.  On a sunny day, bring a picnic and snooze the afternoon away on one of their lush green lawns. We walked around the gardens and learned about the way the Aboriginal people used the plants for food, shelter and protection (read about us Discovering the Aboriginal Way here).

So, that’s our Top 10 awesome things to do in Adelaide for (almost) nothing. Have you found them helpful? Do you think we’ve left anything out? Share your thoughts below :).

 

Exploring ‘Little Australia’; Part 2

1 Mar

We were up early for day two of our trip to Kangaroo Island (check out day 1 here). A short drive and we were at Hanson Bay Sanctuary which includes a Koala Walk. A gentle walk through a eucalyptus-lined path gave us the chance to spot a few of the 30,000 koalas on the island. Though lazy to the extreme (they sleep up to 20 hours/day as their main source of food – eucalyptus – is not very nutritious), they are very cute…

Koalas (which is an aboriginal name and means ‘no drink’; they don’t need to drink as they get all their fluids from eucalyptus leaves) were introduced to the island in 1919 (when 19 koalas were brought). By 1970s their population grew to astonishing 50,000! Since then, various attempts to control their number were introduced in Australia (shooting, de-sexing, giving them chlamydia (!) which makes them infertile). Today, Koalas are protected (shooting them can get you up to 2 years in prison). Did you know koalas are not bears? They are marsupials (similarly to kangaroos) and they carry their babies (which on birth have the size of a fingernail) in their pouch!

From Hanson Bay we headed to Remarkable Rocks, an unbelievable, if uncreatively named, rock formation balanced precariously over the Southern Ocean. The Rocks have been ‘in making’ for 500 million years. It all started with a huge volcanic activity which caused the melting of rock. A granite dome was created which over the next centuries surfaced. For the last 200 million years the dome has been subjected to erosive forces (wind, water) which has caused cracks and created unusual shapes of the rocks. Remarkable or what?!

No less impressive and alliterate was out next destination, Admiral’s Arch – a giant hole where the sea has gnawed hungrily at the landmass. Again a creation of thousands of years of wind and sea erosion, Admiral’s Arch is a huge arch, constantly being battered by huge waves. Amazingly, you can see petrified tree roots hanging from the arch where the underlying soil has been eroded too. On the rocks with a bit more protection from the elements lie hundreds of New Zealand fur-seals (amazingly, over 7,000 fur seals live and breed around Cape du Couedic). Maybe not as cute as the previous day’s sea lions, they’re still pretty cool. We watched one surfing around in the waves- he was even more skilful than Owen in the water (did you know the males are called ‘bulls’ and the females ‘cows’?).

South Australia

Next up we headed to the beach at Stokes Bay. Inaccessible by vehicle, we crawled from one bay to our destination through a series of caves and ended up on yet another perfect, white-sand beach. Ice cream in hand, it doesn’t get much better than this!

South Australia

Eventually we were dragged away from the beach to make our way to the Island Beehive in Kingscote. The island is in fact the sole remaining home to the pure Ligurian Honeybee. After endless tasters – they were all so good! – we bought supplies to take home and made our way to the ferry for the journey home.

Kangaroo Island had provided us with the opportunity to get up close to so many wild animals, and to be able to see them in their natural habitat was incredible. All of that coupled with the beautiful beaches and chilled out, rural atmosphere, had made our visit truly unforgettable.

In words of Isaac Bober from Symmetry, Australia: ‘There really aren’t enough adjectives to accurately describe the beauty of Kangaroo Island. In fact, words can almost spoil the moment.”

Exploring ‘Little Australia’; Part 1

1 Mar

Our next adventure was Kangaroo Island (KI to the locals). And it was set to be a big one, as KI- Australia’s Galapagos – is said to be one of the most natural islands on the planet, a completely unspoilt and beautiful piece of land just off the coast of South Australia. Nicknamed ‘Little Australia’ it is known for having the most accessible indigenous wildlife in Australia.

We were excited to put these claims to the test.

We set off early in the morning on a coach to Cape Jervis, where we caught a ferry for a short ride over to KI (the ferry ride takes approximately 45 minutes). Stepping off the ferry, it was definitely clear that this was a rural place. There was only one general shop in sight and no sign whatsoever of a McDonalds or a Starbucks – how refreshing! We jumped onto our minibus and were greeted by our super-friendly tour guide, Jenny who kept us entertained throughout the whole trip. She was never short of interesting facts about the island and its native wildlife as we trundled down the bumpy dirt roads.

Our first stop was to see Rob the local farmer, who introduced us to his award-winning sheep dogs Toby and Billie. They expertly rounded up some of his Merino sheep, and we got a demonstration into how to shear a sheep. It looked surprisingly difficult, and it was obvious Rob had developed a good technique over the years. We learned a professional shearer is able to shear a sheep in 3.5 minutes which allows him to shear some 50 sheep a day (however there are so called ‘gun-shearers’ who get up to 200 sheep/day!). Sheep lose about 5kg of weight/each during shearing which makes them very happy and chirpy as they no longer have to carry around the excess weight.

Next we visited Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery which produces eucalyptus oil. As it is produced from the leaf of the KI Narrow Leaf Mallee it is the only one of its kind in the world. The distillery is also home to the only emu left on the island. She has been nicknamed ‘Evil Eyed’ as she had killed her two male cage-mates when she was in a bad mood! We stayed clear of her cage…

After a delicious lunch on the veranda that Jenny had prepared for us, we sped off south to Seal Bay.

The beach was typical of Australia – white sands, clear blue sea, the sun beaming down. The only difference was that it was home to a colony of  700-800 Australian sea lions. We felt very privileged to have seen them so close in their natural habitat, and we were also lucky to see them so soon after the breeding season. This meant there were loads of tiny, cute baby sea lions staying close to their mothers. Being a sea lion would be a great life, they seemed to all be either lazing around in the sun, or doing a funny leaning sort of stance, which Jenny informed us was sea lion ‘yoga’ because it took the pressure off their shoulders and necks (imagine being 300-350kg of weight, you’d want to take some of it off your shoulders :)).

After marvelling at the sea lions, we had a short drive over to ‘Little Sahara’, a huge mass of sand which had formed giant dunes 3km from the nearest beach without any obvious cause. Regardless, we Mr Sheen-ed a few glorified trays and sandboarded down the dunes. It was a lot of fun but we were soon foiled by the ‘he who slides must return the board to the top of the dunes’ rule which left us a bit out of breath. We trudged back to the bus, emptying all pockets and orifices of sand as we went – a fair old weight of sand itself… a hint, perhaps, as to how all the sand ended up there in the first place!

Freshly de-sanded, we headed off to our accommodation, Vivonne Bay Lodge. The place was pretty sweet, with pingpong, pool table, bar, canoes to head up river and mountain bikes to trek around. Even cooler, the grounds were covered in Kangaroos! No surprise, I guess, given that we were on Kangaroo Island, but they’re so cute, and friendly too (a piece of trivia for you – the Kangaroo Island kangaroo is a subspecies of the Western Grey kangaroo, being smaller, darker and having longer fur)!

However, the real highlight was the accommodation’s location, just 15 minutes’ walk from Vivonne Bay – independently crowned Australia’s best beach by a 17-year census of its 11,011 beaches. After Owen schooled me at pingpong we took the walk down to the beach. Wow. It sure ain’t been named Australia’s best beach for nothing. Pristine white sand, crystal clear water lapping the shore and totally isolated from anything or anyone. It really was breathtaking. After a couple hours taking in the view and a few rays, we headed back to the accommodation for a barby and a beer.

The day was far from over, however. After dinner once the light had faded, we headed out to a bit of coast where Fairy Penguins are known to nest. Armed with red-light torches we clambered over rocks, listening for the pint-sized birds’ call. Right away we spotted a couple hiding amongst the rocks, resplendent in their midnight blue feathers. They’re so cute! Very shy though so our attention eventually turned upwards towards the sky. With just 4,400 inhabitants and the nearest urban centre, Adelaide, hundreds of kms away, the sky at night was absolutely astonishing. Never in my life have I seen so many stars, so clearly! You could perfectly make out the Milky Way, Venus, Jupiter and Mars. Unbelievable! Humbled by our insignificance, we pretentiously went to bed.

The rest of the trip in Part 2, coming soon!

Just another day in Adelaide: Dolphins vs. Aussie Rules

29 Feb

Today was special.

There was something on the itinerary we’d really been looking forward to – a dolphin swim. Not just a swim with dolphins , a swim with WILD dolphins. We arrived at Glenelg Marina very early in the morning. We were to sail with Temptation Sailing, the first vessel in South Australia to be given a licence to swim with and study these magnificent mammals by getting so close to them (normally you have to stay some 50 metres away from them or you risk a $10,000 fine and up to two years in prison, ouch!). We boarded the huge catamaran and managed to squeeze ourselves into wetsuits (we are getting seriously good at it). The crew explained that the dolphins we were hoping to see were wild animals, so we couldn’t touch them, and there were no guarantees we would see any (even though Temptation Sailing actually give you a partial refund if for any reason you don’t get to swim with them). We crossed our fingers and headed out into the ocean.

No sooner had we managed to read the safety information, the crew was shouting for us to get into the water (‘Swimmers in!’) because they had spotted a pod of dolphins. We all quickly slid in and held on to the ropes that were dragged behind the boat. Our snorkels and masks (which made us all look as we had just left a plastic surgery with our upper lips done) allowed us to search through the water for the dolphins. And sure enough they glided past beneath us – such an amazing experience! It was so crazy to think that the crew had done nothing at all to lure the dolphins to the boat, yet the natural inquisitive nature of the animals had meant they wanted to explore for themselves. Over the next few hours we were in and out of the water, and even got to see a couple of baby dolphins! We left feeling overwhelmed to have seen these fantastic creatures, and experienced them in their natural habitat. Definitely beats Seaworld!

Next on the itinerary was some AFL – Aussie Rules Football. We got a quick run through of the rules from a helpful local on the bus (people here are so helpful!), and had arranged to meet Mark (a huge football fan and diehard Adelaide Crows supporter) at the stadium. Mark provided us (read Owen) with a Crow’s jersey, a football (traditionally made of kangaroo skin) and a very warm welcome. A quick consolidation of those rules and a little kick around with the ball and we felt the part so took our seats in the AAMI stadium. We were there for a preseason cup in which three teams would play each other, the overall winner being crowned champions. Two of the three were Adelaide teams – the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide – with Melbourne-based Carlton completing the line-up.

Aussie rules is a great game! Very free flowing, it combines the physicality of rugby with the kicking skills of football.  Plus it’s high-scoring and the fans are awesome. We’d long been told that we were to be Crows supporters and thankfully for them we were their lucky charms – the Crows humiliated both Port Adelaide and Carlton and were dully crowned NAB Cup Champions. Boom!

To round off our day we went to see some stand up comedy, The Best of British show as part of the Adelaide Fringe. We traditionally supplied ourselves with Coopers beers (what are we going to do without it in London) and laughed a lot at the British take on Australia. The highlight of the show was from an English comedian – Bob Slayer. He arrived on stage apparently having drunk rather a lot, and proceeded to hold the audience to ransom with a blow torch. His demands? A pack of cling film and a bottle of port to be brought to the stage. He managed to negotiate the cling film, but no such luck on the port. A lucky (?) volunteer was invited on stage, and ended up being wrapped from head to toe in cling film for the amusement of the audience. This was the basis of Slayer’s whole act, but was hilariously unexpected and the crowd was in stitches.

We have another very early start tomorrow – travelling over to Kangaroo Island for our 2 day trip, so we’ll sign off and get some sleep! See you soon!

Discovering the heart of Australia’s wine capital

25 Feb

So, continuing on the wine theme (yesterday we learned all about the wine production process at the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus, read about it here), today we have decided to put our freshly gained wine knowledge to practice so we’ve joined the Barossa Valley ‘Groovy Grape Getaways’ tour. We woke to our hottest day so far- it’s reached 42 degrees today! So what better way to spend the day than driving through the hills, past vineyard after vineyard and stopping off every now and then for a welcome glass of wine.

The ‘GGG’ tour attracted a very interesting bunch of people; a group of six Adelaide girls who have not been to the Barossa before (can you believe it? If I lived here I’d go every weekend!), a small group of visitors from Korea, a Canadian adventurer and a Swiss girl who is wrapping up her Great Ocean Road trip in Adelaide). We got on the bus and were taken through the itinerary by our lovely guide for the day, Jason. First stop: World’s biggest Rocking Horse.

The Rocking Horse is part of the Gumeracha Toy Factory and apparently is a unique structure in the world. It is built entirely of steel anchored in over 80 tonnes of concrete set in rock. At its highest point (the head) it is 18.3 metres.

Next we visited the mysterious Whispering Wall, which is quite special, but won’t whisper to you (if that’s what you were expecting :)). The Wall is the first reservoir built in South Australia, 140 metres wide, completed in 1902. Due to its arched shape the noise travels really well and provides fantastic acoustics; you can hear the person at the other end as if they were standing right next to you!

And now it was time to get down to the business; we had four wineries to get to in the Barossa Valley, which is renowned as the heartland of Australia’s wine-making capital. The region has a rich heritage of grape growing and winemaking dating back to 1842. Today, there are over 150 wineries and 80 cellar doors in the Barossa.

First on is the famous Jacob’s Creek, which it turns out is actually a real creek! The story of the winery started in 1836 by William Jacob (the assistant surveyor of Colonel William Light who ‘designed’ Adelaide) who was sent to the Barossa to survey the area. He loved it so much he actually built a home here (can’t blame him really :)).

During our visit the vineyards were beautifully bathed in the morning sunshine, and they even provided deck chairs to relax in the view. We tasted five lovely wines, from a sparkling Sauvignon Blanc to Shiraz Rose to their Reserve Shiraz and a beautifully peachy Moscato. Going through the different varieties we learnt a lot about wine flavours and tasting. A helpful tip: if your wine smells of vinegar or eggs you should ask for another bottle in the restaurant!

Kies Barossa Valley was our next stop. This is a family-owned winery (we hear this quite rare these days) that doesn’t distribute to supermarkets nor does it export. If you fancy their wine you have to come to the cellar door. And it would be worth it; their ‘Bastardo Port’ is like Christmas in a glass…

At Richmond Grove winery we had a traditional Aussie BBQ for lunch, although unfortunately nobody ‘threw another shrimp on the barbie’, but this was more than compensated for with delicious steak and sausages.

Our final winery was Seppeltsfields, one of the oldest in the region. Here we finally tasted the much heralded sparkling Shiraz – a South Australian specialty. It was delicious… apparently it’s even better with bacon and eggs in the morning! The winery is particularly noteworthy for its fortified wines and we started the afternoon with a few glasses of port. Most remarkable of all, every year since 1878  Seppeltsfields has barrelled port to be opened 100 years later. It is the only winery in the world that does this. Last year the winery opened the vintage during which the Titanic was built, 1911. This year they opened the bottles from the year in which it sank, 1912. Now if that’s not impressive I don’t know what is.

Our day concluded with a trip to the Adelaide Fringe parade, to mark the official start of the festival. The event attracted thousands of locals and the streets were packed with people eager to get a glimpse. We saw circus performers, zombies, camels and buses to name but a few of the participants. Afterwards a few of the locals took us out for a beer at a pop-up fringe venue and bar in a car park (Tuxedo Cat) – really cool idea, with crates to sit on and boxes to use as tables. As we sipped on our Little Creature pale ale and Pipsqueak cider, we learnt some new aussie phrases such as ‘fair dinkum’, a great alternative for fair enough. We go to bed once again feeling overwhelmed at the kindness and welcoming nature of the people who call Adelaide home.

Tomorrow is surfing so stay tuned!!

Day 3 of touring Adelaide – cricket fans and O-Week madness

23 Feb

Day three of our Adelaide adventure and, you’ve guessed it, Adelaide is still beautiful. We started our day with a homely breakfast (nothing like coco-pops to remind you of the UK), and headed out for a tour of the cricket stadium, the Adelaide Oval.

The Adelaide Oval is widely regarded as the most picturesque Test cricket ground in the world (see for yourself here). Our guide was a true Aussie cricket fan, almost a grandfatherly figure who, it transpired, kindly gave tours as a volunteer. We learnt that decades ago the cricket association had grown trees around the grounds to stop people in the surrounding houses being able to watch the games for free – something which evidently had tickled our guide.

The highlight of the tour was being shown inside the Adelaide Oval scoreboard, which is over 100 years old. The scores are still manually hung on the board, and the staff working inside use cogs and pulleys and all sorts of old fashioned methods to change the display. It was fantastic to see such an amazing feat of engineering still fully functional a whole century later, and it really added an authentic feel to the whole place. Despite us having differing interests in cricket (Ottilie none at all, and Owen being quite a fan), we both left the tour feeling we had learnt something and enjoyed ourselves very much.

It was time to get down to business and pay the second university on our list a visit. We hopped into a taxi and had a short, 20 minute journey up to Flinders University. We were greeted by a fantastic lunch and a whole bunch of UK students to dine with. Most of the students were in Adelaide as part of an exchange, and we chatted to them about how they were enjoying their time so far. The whole thing is onYouTube so make sure you check it out!

After our chat we headed down to the orientation week (O-Week) welcome fair, which was impressive to say the least! Not only did we get FREE ice cream and candy floss, but we also had our photo taken with a giant subway (see our Facebook) and got to watch students explode water bombs over each other. The place was absolutely bustling with fun and activities for new students to get involved with, and we found ourselves being quite jealous we weren’t starting at Flinders ourselves!

The campus is set up in the hills, so although walking around was slightly exhausting, it was worth it for the spectacular views. We were able to look at some student accommodation which was either the typical halls experience we’re familiar with in the UK, or a student village made up of smaller houses with five rooms in each unit. They each had a huge balcony and a communal BBQ area, we could hardly believe this was student accommodation! Check out the Pictures and videos!

Day 2 in Adelaide – Food, arts and fairgrounds

22 Feb

So, our second day in Adelaide (read about our first day here) was a second day of perfect blue skies and mid-20s warmth beaming down on our backs. We started the morning by winding our way South to Adelaide Central Market (known as the ‘food pantry of Adelaide’), the largest fresh produce market in the Southern hemisphere – turns out everything really is just 20 minutes’ walk away! Here we met Mark Gleeson, whose run his Providore stall at the heart of the market for 21 years.


It being Shrove Tuesday, we started with a delicious pancake smothered in fruit, chocolate and cream from Mark’s own stall.  He gave us a brief history of the market – 142 years old(!) – as we devoured our festive goods before we set off for a walk around the market.  It has over 80 stalls under one roof (from meat to seafood to fruit&veg to cheeses to bakery products). The food is amazing! We tried kangaroo salami, local cheese from the Adelaide Hills, Yabbies (shellfish) – we even learned to shell them!, coffee chocolate, yoghurt and loads of local fruit. A bit like Borough Market, there are freebies all over the place and the stall holders are super friendly and passionate about their produce. Plus there’s a great sense of community amongst the stall holders, something that doesn’t seem to be unusual inAdelaide, with the locals often giving each other a knowing nod or smile. After a second run of all the stalls to stock up our fridge, we were on our way to UniSA – The University of South Australia – the biggest out of the three South Australian universities.
Sabine from the International Office welcomed us to the campus, and gave us a whistle stop tour of the impressive facilities. As the campus offers many arts, architecture and creative design courses, the uni has a lot of art spaces for either professional artists or students to display their work.
We then met with two students from the UK, Katie from South Wales and Peter from Belfast, who study at UniSA as international students. They actually had pretty similar stories – came to Adelaide temporarily on their travels but fell in love with the weather, the lifestyle and the people and decided to stay. Check out the videos on YouTube  to see their impression of student life inAdelaide!

Later we heard the same story from Peter Hall, Program Director at UniSA’s Schoolof Commerce. Peter, originally from the UK, was a real laugh and was really helpful in helping us understand how university in Australiawas different to in the UK.

Finally were shown around Medical and Nursing facilities at the CityEast campus, just a ten minute walk or free tram ride up the road. The facilities were really impressive – placing an emphasis on experiential learning, they’ve built a mock hospital at the Uni for students to practice in environments in which they’d be working a couple years down the line – as a result, UniSA have great employment outcomes – so important in the current economic climate.

To finish the day off on a more cultural note we headed down to the eastern side of the city to the Garden of Unearthly Delights. I know it sounds really dodge, but the Garden is actually the hub of Adelaide Fringe festival – the Aussie equivalent of Edinburgh which literally takes over the entire city every February-March (over 800 events). Like an old-school vaudeville fairground, the place was packed with punters queuing for shows, rides and beers (check out our short video here). After soaking up a bit of the atmosphere with a Coopers Sparkling Ale, we headed to our show.

And how was the show? I’m afraid you’ll have to wait and see… 🙂 Stay tuned.

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