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Adelaide 2014

Adelaide Diary – September 2014

One of the great things about living in New Zealand is our proximity to Australia and the Pacific Islands. They're close and cheap enough to fly to that we can often do a long weekend break. So, after 'one of those weeks', which included being told that the project I was working on had been 'delayed by a few weeks', we decided to take a last minute 4 day trip to Adelaide.

We hit the Internet, and came up with a last minute deal from Expedia - flight, and accommodation in the Ibis Adelaide, which had some good scores from Trip Adviser.

Tuesday - Auckland to Adelaide

Our flight was at 8:00 am, landing (after a 4.5 hour flight) in Adelaide at about 10:00 am. Adelaide Airport is about a 15 minute drive from the CBD, but for this trip we’d decided that we’d try and be reasonably frugal with the expenses and stay on foot. Further than that – we’d do as many cheap (or even free) things as possible. So the start of the budgeting was to find our way to our hotel by public transport.

Transport from Adelaide Airport to the City

The Ibis Hotel is in Grenfell Street, near Hindmarsh Square. This is very convenient, as the J1 and J2 buses start a short 5 minute stroll from the airport, and terminate at Hindmarsh Square. Cost was a very reasonable $3.50 AUD each.

There are a number of ways of paying for your ticket.

1. Exact cash, to the bus driver

2. Buy a Metro card (at the bus stop) - $10 per card, with $5 credit on it

3. Buy a ‘tourist Metro’ card at WH Smith, in the airport for $25. This gives you three whole days travel on Adelaide’s public transport system.

We bought a Metro card, but now wonder whether we should have bought the $25 tourist card. It wouldn’t have covered us for the trip back to the airport (which was outside of the three days), but there are a couple of great places to go that are really easy to get to by bus and tram (read on…..)

There’s also a shuttle bus from the airport ($10 per person), and, of course, taxis.

Adelaide in the sun

South Aus. Uni.

Our hotel room wasn’t going to be ready until 2:00 pm, so we left our case and went for our first explore. The hotel is very close to Rundle Mall, the main shopping area, and Rundle Street, with a number of restaurants. As our time clocks were telling us it was past our lunchtime, we went searching for a café. And found Bertolli’s, in Rundle Street. It’s Italian, does snacks and pastries, coffee, beer and wine (ideal for lunch), plus a full restaurant style Italian menu (ideal for the evenings).

We had a beer and sandwich, sitting in the sun on the pavement, then, repleted, we headed one road north, to North Terrace.

New AFL Stadium

Adelaide CBD Layout

Adelonians love to tell you that Adelaide was not built as a result of convicts, but as a free city. And the centre was planned from day one, on a grid system. It’s more or less a perfect rectangle, surrounded by a green belt of parkland. The top road is ‘North Terrace’, the bottom is ‘South Terrace’, and I’ll give you three guesses what the ones to the right and left of the city are called! Running through the middle from north to South is King William Drive. All the roads running across King William Drive change their name, apparently because ‘he didn’t want anyone crossing him’. The majority of the museums, galleries and government buildings are found on the north side of North Terrace. To the north, and over the Torrens River, is North Adelaide – again, surrounded by parks. There are some lovely old large houses here.

After a stroll along the river to Popeyes River Boats (to the west of King Williams Drive), we made our way back to the Ibis to complete booking in before an afternoon snooze

Ibis Hotel, Adelaide

An Ibis hotel is never going to be thrilling – but you usually know what to expect. Our room was small, but had the usual clean, comfortable double bed and bathroom with shower. There’s a bar and restaurant on the first floor, but our intention was to find a restaurant close by after a late afternoon stroll in the sun, and dinner. This did not quite work out the way we planned. We woke up to rain! So made the mistake, together with most of the rest of the hotel, of deciding to stay in for the night.

Dear Ibis Adelaide I would like to thank you for the most appallingly awful service that was had by all in your restaurant on Tuesday 9th September. It was so bad, and took so long, that we made lifelong friends (and shared quite a lot of wine) with the couples sitting on either side of us.

I would also like to nominate Simon for Ibis Employee of the Month - nay - Year - for coping cheerfully with what must have been on of the worse nights of his working career. He was the only experienced waiting staff in the restaurant, was tasked with training an extreme newbie, and found himself with a full restaurant.

To my mind, therefore, the bad service was not any one member of staff's fault, but the fault of Ibis for failing to provide them with the resource they needed to do the job. And of course the losers were the guests. So to give you a summary of our evening. We arrived at around 6:00 pm, and left four hours later at 10:00 pm. On average, everything happened at half hour intervals

enter Restaurant, wait half an hour for your order to be taken

wait half an hour for the wine to arrive (which was also usually wrong)

another half hour for the entrees

Yet another for the main meal

and so on….

And in many cases, one of us gave up and would go to the bar to do things for ourselves! (for example, ordering desserts or getting another bottle of wine)

The food, when it did turn up, was an issue. Luke-warm onion soup and scallops. Lamb chops so underdone that they were sent back. Prawns that were all heads and no bodies.

So all in all, a very bad experience food and service wise, that turned into an amusing evening's entertainment, if nothing else. Although I very much doubt that Simon would agree with that sentiment…..

Wednesday – A day in Adelaide

It was still drizzly in the morning, but we were determined to see something of Adelaide. And we were still on our economy drive. First stop was the food court down the road, for breakfast. Bacon, eggs, tomatoes & toast for $8.50 AUD at ‘Daily Bread’. I can thoroughly recommend it.

Trawling the Internet had unearthed a website that gave ideas for things to do for free.

Free Adelaide Walking Tour

At 9:30 we were waiting outside the Information Centre in James Place (just off Rundle Mall), waiting for a free walking tour. It’s not long (about 30 minutes), but they walk you round Rundle Mall & North Terrace, give you a bit of an overview of Adelaide’s history, and points out places of interest. And it leaves you time to get to your next free tour….

Free Botanic Gardens Walking Tour

Adelaide Botanic Gardens can be found at the eastern end of North Terrace. And at 10:30 am every day (except Christmas Day, Good Friday and any day where the temperature is over 36 degrees C), a garden volunteer does a

Wollemia Nobilis

walking tour. You meet at the Schomburgk Pavilion, in the centre of the park.

Our guide, Leena, was enthusiastic and very interesting. She explained that South Australia is the driest state in Australia, with most of its rain falling in the months of June, July & August. The gardens do not charge any entry fees and are very limited with the amount of cash that they have to spend. So they’ve had to make some difficult decisions over the years. Now, the gardens are aiming to grow plants that are suited to the dry conditions. Each plant is only watered once a week. It has to survive on that – or it isn’t considered suitable for the gardens. Leena described how the gardens were attempting to manage the collection, storage & conservation of water, with rain collection systems from the pavilion roof, and ponds that collect then filter water from the rivers that flow from the Adelaide Hills.

Most of the flora in the gardens is from the South-East of Queensland. One of our fellow guests was a botanist from that area, who was obviously just as (more?) knowledgeable as Leena. And between them we learned a lot about the plants and trees. In particular about a number of the pines, including a ‘Bottle tree’, which is hollow and contains water, and a small pine tree, which apparently is a miracle, as it has only been discovered in the last couple of decades, and can trace its ancestry back hundreds of thousands of years.

Free South Australia Parliament Tour

We then found the War Memorial, and a park bench, and had a snooze….. Before our next free tour – the South Australia Parliament Buildings. These are given twice a day, at 10:00am & 2:00 pm, when Parliament isn’t sitting. Roll up to the front door, go through security & sign in. We expected

Terri in Speakers Chair

them to take our bags and cameras off us, but apart from the usual bag x-ray, we were allowed to keep them.

The tour takes you into the parts of Parliament House that are usually only open to the Members of Parliament. Australian Parliament is set up on the same lines as UK parliament, with a ‘House of Assembly’ (Commons) and a ‘Legislative Council (‘Lords’). Even the colours of the chambers are the same – green and red,

One thing that amazed me when we visited New Zealand’s Parliament, and continued to amaze me in the South Australian Parliament, is how laid-back it all is. We were taken into both Houses, and allowed to sit on the benches. We were even allowed to sit on the Speaker’s Chair and have our photos taken. Then some real politicians came in for a photo shoot too.

Free Bus Tour

Public transport (buses & trams) in Adelaide CBD is free. And I must say that Auckland could learn more than a trick or two from Adelaide – their public transport is awesome! There are two free buses that travel round Adelaide CBD, the 98 and 99. You won’t get a commentary, but if you want to sit and watch then jump on board. Route 98 gives the best tour, as it takes in North Adelaide too. Probably the best place to pick these buses up is on North Terrace – it doesn’t matter which side. One goes clockwise and the other anticlockwise.


Yes, every major city (except Auckland – unless you count Meadowlands)) has one. We decided to head to Chinatown for dinner. Chinatown is also right next door to Adelaide’s main market, although this was closed by the time we got there. We trawled a few restaurants until we found one that did Peking Duck – yum!

Thursday – Barossa Wine Tour

Well, what did you expect? We couldn’t go a whole holiday without a wine tour – especially not in South Australia! Today we splashed out on a tour – having a driver (to drive) and fellow winos (to compare notes and generally socialise with) is the way to go. There were 12 of us – and the entertainment of the day turned out to be the Jordanian who got the hump because Wolf Blass had two tiers of wine tasting – and wouldn’t let him try the top tier (‘cos we hadn’t paid the top tier price). He sulked for the rest of the day, and made the three companions that were travelling with him join his sulk. Of course the remaining 8 of us just made sure we had the best time ever!

Note: To Wolf Blass – we had no problems with the two-tier tasting, but as we were in the middle of beautiful vineyards, we would have preferred a lunch room with some windows. The whole point of a lunch on a vineyard is to appreciate the location!

So our tour took in five wineries (two before lunch), and a farm shop. And now we have to fit six bottles of wine into our luggage!

Note: to Tour Company – On returning at the end of the day, give your guests the option of getting off the bus somewhere in central CBD – not necessarily at their hotel, but nearer than the bus depot. We didn’t want to hang around waiting for all the buses to arrive to arrange hotel drop-offs, so got out and walked.

Wolf Blass


Back to Bertolli’s tonight, for an excellent pasta, and (for Art) a bowl of wedges!

Friday – Hahndorf & Glenelg

Today we thought we’d see what a couple of the Adelaide ‘Commuter towns’ were like – and try out Adelaides public transport while we were at it.


Handorf Barrow

First trip was to Hahndorf, one of the first German towns, to the south-east of Adelaide. We jumped on a bus (864) on Grenfell Street (cost - $3.20 per person), and were there an hour later. Hahndorf is a typical tourist town, with a row of old houses and cottages built in around 1850 along the main street. It’s good for photos, and is often added onto a day trip out of Adelaide. I think our trip by public transport was much better value!

First stop was for breakfast, at a deli type place at the start of the main street. A ‘Ploughmans basket’ came at an excellent price of $30, and comprised of so much ham, salami, cheeses, pickles and baguettes that (with a couple of fresh rolls) we had enough for the next morning’s breakfast too!


Art had decided that he wanted to see Glenelg, a seaside resort to the south-west of Adelaide. So we took a short break in our hotel room before heading out again. This time, we took the tram out to the south-west. The ticket price was similar, and again it took an hour (approx) to get there.

Glenelg is a typical seaside resort. There are golden sands, funfairs, and even a pier. We went for a walk, found a bar overlooking the sea for a glass of vino, then hit the front for a photographic session during the ‘Golden Hours’ just before sunset. The last hour was spent watching the sun go down behind the pier……

Glen Elg Sunset
Glen Elg Seafront

Tonight’s dinner option…

…was at ‘Thai in a Wok’, 0n Hindmarsh Square. It was OK – but I wouldn’t rave about it…

Note: To ‘Thai in a Wok’. We were disappointed that there was no Satay on the menu. You gave the reason that ‘you couldn’t cook it the way that it’s done in Thailand, without a charcoal barbecue so decided not to do it at all’. But for most of us non-officianados of local Thai cooking, it’s a bit of a staple menu item so we’d have preferred it, even without the burned charcoal bits!

Saturday – The Journey Home

I’m sitting in our hotel room, after a bad night’s sleep, writing up the diary whilst contemplating starting to pack.

Note: To Ibis Hotel. I know I should have done something about this earlier, but could you provide softer pillows? The ones supplied are so hard and over-stuffed that my neck was continuously on an angle.

We don’t have a short journey back to Auckland – there wasn’t a direct flight today, and even on other days (there appears to be a direct flight about every other day) it’s expensive. So we’re going back via Melbourne, with a 3.5 hour stopover. We’re going to take public transport to the airport again – the bus stop for the J1 & J2 is just outside our hotel on the opposite side of the road. Then when we get to Melbourne, we’re going to find somewhere for a meal. We arrive in Auckland at midnight – Oh joy!

Adelaide Public transport

Auckland could learn a thing or two about running a good public transport system from Adelaide metro. It was excellent! Everywhere you look, there are buses that go to all parts of the city and beyond, and there’s a great tram to the coast too. They’re cheap too – within CBD, there are two free loop buses – the 98 and 99. Just jump on and see the city. And the tram is free within CBD. Normal cost of a journey between 9:00 and 3:00 is $3.20 AUD, and outside these hours it’s slightly more.

You can buy tickets (with the right change) from the driver, or from ticket machines that can be found at various points, including the Metro information Centre.

Another option is to purchase a Metro card, and put some money on it. We found that a Metro card ($10 AUD, including $5 AUD credit) with an additional $15 AUD on it was enough for our airport trips, and the two trips to Hahndorf & Gleneig. But there is still a bit of credit left on it, so it would have been cheaper to purchase individual tickets. The great advantage of the Metro cards, though, is the convenience. You just hold the card up to the reader and it deducts the fare.

Note: The Metro Information Centre is located on the corner of King William Road and Currie Street. And the Metro website is at


Even though we didn’t have the best of the weather, we’ve decided that we like Adelaide more than Melbourne, and definitely more than Sydney. It’s small, compact, friendly and walkable.

With hindsight, we came a bit early in the year. The grass is green in September – but it is a bit cold, and most of the trees and shrubs haven’t started shooting. The vines are showing a touch of green, but most are still dormant. Next time (and there will be one!) we’ll aim to come in October/November, before the heat of summer, and (hopefully) while it’s still green and before everything has dried out.

The next trip will be either a driving tour, or we’re very tempted by a paddleboat cruise on the Murray River.

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