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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 :).

 

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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?

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!

Two Days in paradise – Kangaroo Island in photos

28 Feb

Hi everyone,

We have just returned from a two-day Adventure Tour on Kangaroo Island (‘KI’ as the locals call it), courtesy of Sealink. We are working on a informative/funny blog post about the island, however, in the meantime, we just couldn’t wait to share some of our highlights with you. So sit back, relax, and take in the the beautiful jewel that Kangaroo Island is.

But first, a few housekeeping details:

  • Kangaroo Island is the third largest island in Australia
  • Population of KI is 4,400 humans, 30,000 koalas and some 500,000 sheep
  • The island is 155km long and 55km wide
  • KI is recognised as one of the most natural islands on the planet (and voted the ‘Number 1 island in Asia Pacific’ by the National Geographic Traveller Magazine in 2008).
Now, let’s get down to business. At Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery (which is the only one in the world producing eucalyptus oil from the Narrow Leaf Mallee) we got up close and personal with ‘Evil Eye’ – a grumpy emu female who in the past killed her two male counterparts.

Seal Bay is home to 700-800 Australian Sealions, which are currently at the point of extinction (only about 15,000 of them left in Australia).

Little Sahara off the southern coast of the island is a mysterious place. No one can explain how has all the sand moved so far from the coast (which is 3km away).

At Vivonne Bay Lodge, our accommodation for the night, we were welcomed by the cutest roos and wallabies.

Before dinner we got to hang out at Australia’s best beach, Vivonne Bay. It was declared the best beach out of the 1,011 beaches in Australia by Andrew Short who was commissioned by the University of Sydney to explore the 36,000km of Australian coastline (this took him 17 years).

We visited Hanson Bay Koala Sanctuary which is full of these cute and cuddly marsupials chilling up on the trees. As they are sleepy heads by nature, Owen was more interested in a nearby wallaby. The interest was not mutual :).

We made our way to the Remarkable Rocks. 500 mil years of evolution (volcanic activity, landmass movements, water- and wind erosion) has created something truly remarkable.

Admiral’s Arch features a magnificent archway sculpted by the wind and sea where New Zealand fur seals play on the shore platform below.

So what do you think? Which one is YOUR favorite?

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