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It’s a total steal! 10 Awesome things to do in Adelaide for (almost) nothing; Part 1

18 Apr

Let’s face it, times are tough. Rising prices, stagnating salaries, no savings (well, for most of us anyway)…

But do austere times mean we can’t enjoy ourselves? Didn’t think so either. So where to head next to get a taste of the good life without breaking the bank? Adelaide, of course! And make it March, to get a proper taste of the buzzing city.

Although Adelaide is smaller than Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane the quality of lifestyle and education is still great, and it’s cheaper! Statistics show it costs 25% more to live in Sydney and Melbourne, and 11% more to live in Perth and Brisbane (according to The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2011).

So how to get the most out of your limited budget while in Adelaide? Read on to discover what you can do/see in Adelaide for free or for very little.

1. EAT LIKE A LOCAL

Adelaide is all about fresh produce. If you want to eat like the locals head to the Adelaide Central Market (we spent some quality time there, check out our ‘Food, Arts and Fairgrounds‘ post), right next to Chinatown. It  is the mother of all produce markets, some three million people pass through it every year. It boasts more than 80 speciality stores, representing over 60 nationalities. Try the freshly harvested fruit and vegetables, meat and seafood. And if you’re hunting for a bargain be there from 1pm on a Saturday – everything is literally a steal!

2. GET AROUND ON TWO WHEELS

Instead of driving or relying on public transportation to get you around the city, opt for two wheels instead. Adelaide City Council’s bike scheme gives you FREE UNLIMITED bike hire (so good!) during the operational hours of the program (this differs depending on the pick-up point but is usually 8/9am to 4/6pm). All you need is an ID (driver’s licence or a passport) to be held as a deposit, helmet and a padlock are provided.

If you insist on using public transport make sure to make the most of free city buses and tram services in Adelaide: the free ‘Terrace to Terrace’ tram service, the City Loop (99C) and the Adelaide Connector (linking north and south Adelaide).

3. SOAK UP SOME CULTURE

Adelaide offers plenty cultural attractions for free, whether you are into aboriginal history, architecture or galleries.

The South Australian Museum, located in the city’s cultural hub – North Terrace – is a haven for those who want to get out of the sun, or if there’s an occasional rainy day in the city. There’s loads of fascinating exhibits ranging from giant squid to aboriginal culture (the museum is home to the world’s largest collection of Australian Aboriginal cultural objects, with over 3,000 artefacts on display). We paid absolutely nothing for a good two hours of museum entertainment, excellent.

There is also Tandanya, the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute (see our day of Aboriginal culture), the Art Gallery of South Australia, the Jam Factory (ceramics) and a lot more. Or you can always pop down to Rundle Mall to enjoy some street art.

4. CHEER FOR YOUR FAVOURITE TEAM

We all know sports is one of the favourite Aussie pastimes (right after ‘putting another shrimp on the barbie’) 🙂 so in the spirit of ‘When in Rome do as the Romans do’ you have to give it a go. And what better way than to enjoy the cricket at Adelaide Oval, widely regarded as the most picturesque test cricket ground in the world (check out our experience in the ‘Sun, Surf, Cricket and Tchaikovsky‘ post). If you are on a tight budget just look up a pre-season match (which is usually free). All you have to do then is to get yourself a pint of lager, sit back and enjoy.

5. MOVIES NIGHT

Many mainstream and art house cinemas can be found across Adelaide, and students are entitled to concessions when they show their student card.  If you’re not a student don’t worry, many cinemas have cheaper prices on Tuesdays.

That’s Part 1 from us, Part 2 coming soon.

Discovering the Aboriginal way…

15 Mar

On our final day in Adelaide we were able to go on a fascinating tour of the Botanic Gardens with Hayden from Bookabee Tours, where we learnt all about the Aboriginal culture and how they used the land for food, weapons and shelter.

Hayden was an Australian Aboriginal himself, so the tour was very authentic and obviously informed by years of expertise passed down to him. As we wandered through the beautiful gardens in the heart of the city, Hayden gave us an insight into how these plants were used, and we marvelled at the huge, tall trees and vibrant, colourful flowers. We cast our minds a couple of hundred years back, when there were no Europeans around yet, searching for plants for survival (food) and weaponry as the Kaurna people once did. Wanna see how we did? Keep reading then.

First we had the pleasure to admire a Grass Tree, a flowering plant native to Australia. This is an extremely useful plant, very good for keeping you hydrated in the hot, dry Outback. It collects water in its shoots and you can suck on it (apparently it tastes like coconut). Or you can make a paste of it and use it as a glue.

It grows very slowly (about an inch/year) and it needs fire to survive (which is not an issue in the Outback, however, in the Garden they have to regularly burn it for it to thrive!

Next we moved onto the Ribbon Gum. The one we saw was 500 years old! You can see it has holes in it made by a moth’s larvae; this is a valuable source of protein for travelling Aboriginal people (all I can say to that is eeeeeeeek!).

Then there is the Bunya Tree (which – let’s be honest – looks a lot like an elephant trunk sticking out from the ground). This tree would be used as a shelter from rain and wind (because of the dome-like branch structure reaching all the way to the ground).  It produces bunya nuts (every 3 years or so) which were used by the Aboriginal people as a currency.

Nilli Pilli (how funny, hey?) are red berries rich in water, which are today made into jams (anyone for a Nilli Pilli jam? :))

Wonder why the below tree is called the ‘Ghost Gum‘? Well for starters, it is as white as one (as it sheds all its bark).

And lastly, there is the Parma Spherelilly – a plant that grows in rings (spheres) and used to be use by the Aboriginal people as a camouflage to hunt animals. It also has an edible root and its leaves can be dried and made into baskets. Clever, right?

The tour cumulated in a visit to Tandanya, the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute. Established in 1989, it is the first and only of its kind and size. Here we were treated to a performance on the didgeridoo,  and were told of its cultural significance to the Aboriginal people. The centre was also home to a fantastic collection of Aboriginal art work, which was a striking reminder of the turbulent past of the people, and a great insight into their importance in Australian history. We learnt a lot and thoroughly enjoyed our morning.

How about you? Would you give  a nice fat larvae a go if your life depended on it? And do you know much about the history of the Australian Aboriginal people? Share your thoughts below.

So what is this Pie Floater??? – A take on South Aussie cuisine

7 Mar

We couldn’t leave Adelaide without trying some traditional Aussie foods so, based on recommendations from a lot of locals, we headed to the bakery on O’Connell Street in North Adelaide, where we were told we could get a ‘pie floater’. But what is this pie floater? Mr Wikipedia says a pie floater is a meal available in Australia, particularly South Australia. It consists of the traditional Australian style meat pie sitting, usually inverted, in a plate of thick green pea soup. This is typically purchased in the street from pie-carts as a late evening meal (read ‘after-party-treat’). In 2003, the pie floater was recognised as a South Australian Heritage Icon by the National Trust of Australia.

So what do you think so far? To us it honestly didn’t sound appealing, and it certainly didn’t look appealing, but we were willing to give it a try in the hope it would taste appealing. IT. DID. NOT. HAPPEN. Unfortunately, the pie floater just tasted of ketchup and soggy pastry. It might be a firm Aussie favourite, but it just didn’t cut the mustard.

If you are unconvinced by our little tasting (watch our hilarious but authentic response here) and would like to try this delicacy yourself this is how to make a pie floater:

  1. Make a bowl of green pea soup
  2. Make or purchase a meat pie (preferably of the beef variety)
  3. Drop the pie into the bowl of green pea soup; try to centre it. Alternatively, place the pie in the bowl upside down and pour the soup over it.
  4. Squirt ketchup (‘tomato sauce’ as the locals call it) all over the pie
  5. Eat it hot, before the pie gets too soggy. Voila!

Next we moved onto baked goods, and tried some popular South Australian cakes (in the spirit of a ‘South Australian cake challenge’ we were given). The challenge was to taste iconic South Aussie cakes (I know what you’re thinking: ‘poor buggers, they had to EAT CAKES!’ :)) and rate them.  The shortlist included a Beliner, a Vanilla Slice, a Kitchener and a Balfour Frog cake. Owen couldn’t resist adding a Nutella chocolate heart to the list too… And how did we go? As both of us have a very sweet tooth the task went down a treat! All of the ‘finalists’ were really delicious so it was quite difficult to pick a winner, but in the end the Berliner (a doughnut filled with jam and covered in icing) came out on top for its jammy, sugary goodness.

Other cuisine we tried whilst in Adelaide included the infamous ‘AB’, a firm favourite with students, which is a nutritious blend of kebab meat, chips, garlic sauce and ketchup on a big tray. There is fierce local rivalry between the kebab shops for the best AB, although we were pretty impressed with the red and white shop’s offerings.

Above all, our favourite part of the South Australian gastronomy was Farmers Union iced coffee. Apparently, South Australia is one of the only places in the world where Coca-Cola isn’t the top selling drink, it is out performed by this delicious iced coffee and we can see why. We were hooked from our very first sip of the creamy goodness, to the point where Owen was averaging at least two/day and noticing prominent withdrawal symptoms if he was deprived. We will miss Farmers Union, and can only hope they decide to export it to the UK very soon.

So how about you peeps? Ever had the pleasure of tasting a pie floater? How did you find it? And if not, would you give it a go?

Day 4 in Adelaide: Learning how it’s done

24 Feb

Day four in Adelaide ended up being a real education in wine and beer production – something which Adelaide seems to do very well!

Our visit to the final of the big three South Australian universities, The University of Adelaide (read about Uni South Australia and Flinders Uni here) , took us up to the Waite Campus which offers a course in Wine Making (renowned as No.1 in Australia) and Wine Marketing (I know, we couldn’t believe it either). From studying the optimum soil conditions for grape growth, to marketing the finished product, this course has everything you could ever want to know about wine. The students do two vintages a year, also producing their own wine (choosing the style, grape variety, time of picking etc).

We were able to visit the on-campus vineyards, wine production facilities and the research lab, and all our questions were answered by Dr Kerry Wilkinson of the School of Agriculture, Food & Wine who gave us a fascinating tour. It seemed to be the ideal location to study wine, seeing as South Australia is the wine capital of Australia, producing almost a half of its wine and responsible for some 60% of Australian wine exports.

We also visited the City Campus (the second out of the four The University of Adelaide has around Adelaide), which was a beautiful mixture of old and new; buildings which had been around for some 135 years and are maintained in their original condition (even down to the same carpet pattern!), and contemporary constructions which had clearly been built with students in mind. We marvelled at ‘The Hub’, a space designed by students for students, which incorporated features such as a napping area, a skype room, small informal study spaces and kitchen facilities to prepare your own food. We found ourselves extremely jealous that these facilities had not yet extended over to the UK…

After a quick iced coffee and a bite to eat from one of the many food outlets in The Hub, we jumped headed over to Cooper’s brewery (we were keen to learn about this iconic brew).

Frank our guide supplied us all with totally fashionable Cooper’s fluorescent vests, so there was little chance of us sneaking off and helping ourselves to the beer. We were told Coopers is recognised as the largest home-brew producer in the world. The history of the brewery started in 1852 when the Coopers family moved to South Australia. Because their beers are made with only the best Australian ingredients (malt, hops, yeast etc) without the use of any additives or preservatives, it was originally intended for medicinal purposes.

After this brief history lesson we made our way through the swelteringly hot brewery (which can apparently get to 55°C in the summer!) and were informed of every stage of the production. We definitely felt we had earned our beer tasting session (which thankfully took place in a suitably air conditioned room). What we found very interesting (and unusual) is that Coopers beers are marked with a ‘best after’ date (as opposed to the generally known ‘best before’), this is due to the second fermentation process which happens after the beer has been bottled (which is why their Ales always have some sediment on the bottom of the bottle).

In true Aussie style, Frank even offered to give us a lift home – yet another example of the friendly attitude you find again and again in Adelaide.

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