Mentioning my year abroad in Adelaide has elicited more than a groan or two from Australians that are not native to South Australia.
“Adelaide,” whined a Sydney woman I met while she visited Boston, “is our most embarrassing city. It’s so tiny. Why would you have gone there when you could have gone to Sydney or Melbourne? Or up north to Queensland?”
South Australia’s neighbors to the east might have the upper hand when it comes to attracting tourists with iconic destinations like the Sydney Opera House, Whitsunday Islands, and Great Barrier Reef, but conveniently enough, the lack of tourists is part of what makes South Australia as beautiful and unique as it is. Sure, Adelaide’s club scene looks pretty tame compared to Sydney’s or Melbourne’s, and you won’t find too many celebrities jetting to the city for a weekend shopping spree, but there is something about the city, and the rest of the state for that matter, that you can relate to personally. There’s not a lot of glitz, the locals aren’t scrambling to cater to tourists in search of a cheap “Australian experience,” and it’s not a major hit on the backpacker route, which means what you get, for the most part, is the pure, unfiltered, Australian lifestyle.
It’s certainly the type of place you could fall in love with, or if you are lucky enough as I was, fall in love in. I’d like to think the laid-back atmosphere and picturesque backdrop of South Australia played a role in the romance between me and my Canadian boyfriend, whom I met while we were both studying at the University of Adelaide.
So every time I hear an Aussie quipping about South Australia’s reputation for being the boring state, I can’t help but ask, “I guess you’ve never actually visited then, have you?”
Adelaide is fairly small, but is extremely accessible and inviting. The city is surrounded by parks on all four sides and is a host to hundreds of restaurants, outdoor cafes and wine bars. A day or two is all you need to stroll down Rundle Mall, the main shopping area, to get a fruit smoothie and take a picture in front of Adelaide’s iconic silver “balls;” have Thai noodles or a slow roasted steak on Gouger Street; walk the Torrens River running behind the University; catch a footy or cricket match, and clean the loose change from your wallet on dollar beer and champagne nights at the Duke of York Hotel on Currie Street.