Tag Archives: tourism

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 :).

 

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.

Wildlife on your doorstep…

3 Apr

South Australia combines the best Australia has to offer – constant sunshine, 4,800km of coastline, beautiful metropolitan beaches, unspoiled wilderness just off the shores of the State, countless wine regions producing the best wine in Australia and so on… What more? It is also considered to have the most accessible wildlife in Australia. It’s one of the few places you can swim with wild sea-lions and dolphins, walk down eucalyptus-lined lanes spotting koalas, and view groups of kangaroos grazing the land. Majestic whales, playful sea-lions, dainty Leafy Sea Dragons and parading penguins play on our coasts and in our seas.

The natural choice for the thrill- and wildlife-seekers would probably be Kangaroo Island (‘KI’ to the locals), Australia’s answer to the Galapagos. The island is just off the shores of South Australia (a short flight form Adelaide or a ferry ride from Cape Gervis) and it is arguably the best place in Australia to see an abundance of native wildlife up close and in their natural habitat. Take me up on that, been there, seen it, was absolutely stunned. We spent two amazing days on Kangaroo Island and couldn’t believe our eyes: the place is like a zoo without fences, with rare bird life, tammar wallabies, short-beaked echidnas and plenty of kangaroos and koalas.  Check out our posts about Exploring Little Australia, Part 1 and Exploring Little Australia, Part 2 to get the idea.

Appreciating not everyone can get to Kangaroo Island Adelaide itself offers some great alternatives:

Cleland Wildlife Park

The park is located just 20 minutes from Adelaide city in a beautiful natural bush land setting, this 35-hectare park is home to over 130 species of Australian wildlife. The animals are used to visitors so you can feed and pat them. You can even hold a koala and have this special experience captured with a souvenir photo.

Adelaide Zoo

Adelaide Zoo is home to more than 1,800 animals and almost 300 species of exotic and native mammals, birds, reptiles and fish exhibited in over 8 hectares of magnificent botanic surroundings.

Everywhere we have been in Adelaide, people have asked us if we’ve managed to see the panda’s yet – and we sure have observed this spectacle. Wang Wang and Funi (the only giant panda’s in the southern hemisphere), that currently reside at Adelaide Zoo, are huge! Funi, the female, was feeling a bit lazy and spent most of the time sleeping, whilst Wang Wang was enthusiastically tucking in to a huge amount of bamboo.

We also got to see a Tasmanian Devil, who didn’t look much like ‘Taz’, some very loud monkeys and some very cute bilbies. Bilbies are native to Australia, but unfortunately have become extinct due to the introduction of competitors like rabbits into the ecosystem. The zoo is undertaking great conservation work to try and reintroduce them into the wild, which is being supported by Haigh’s Chocolate who produce chocolate Easter bilbies instead of Easter bunnies!

So there you go; wildlife literally on your doorstep. What do you think? Can you get any closer than this?

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!

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