Easy Escapes: Adelaide, Australia

  • Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
  • Olivia Palamountain discovers a thriving foodie scene in South Australia's capital

    Olivia Palamountain discovers a thriving foodie scene in South Australia’s capital

    Why go? With a population of just over a million, this easygoing seaside city may be small but it more than makes up for it in diversity. From vast white beaches to rolling hills and some famous wine country, there’s plenty to explore. Friendly and relaxed, Adelaide is renown for its foodie culture, with residents hugely proud of both their local produce and restaurants. The city is also home to some stimulating museums and galleries, including the Australian Aboriginal Cultures Gallery (samuseum.sa.gov.au) with the largest collection of Australian Aboriginal artefacts in the world. Affectionally known as the ’20 minute city’, getting around town is a breeze, and you can spend most of your trip exploring on foot.

    Indigenous and ingenious: catch some art at the Australian Aboriginal Cultures Gallery
    © SATC/Adam Bruzzone

    When? Temperatures are of a moderate nature with an average winter (April to September) reading of 16°C and 28°C in summer. Go in January for Mediterranean-style warmth and an average ten hours of daily sunshine…

    You really must…
    Central Adelaide, or the CBD, has plenty to keep you entertained – as well as offering free Wi-Fi. Check out Adelaide Central Market (adelaidecentralmarket.com.au) to taste South Australian produce at its best. Founded in 1989, its stalls have become a local foodie institution and comprise the biggest undercover produce market in the southern hemisphere selling everything from cheese and wine to organic honey and crafts. Thanks to a change in licensing laws, small bars are popping up in unexpected places all over Adelaide and drawing a vibrant crowd all week. Little Miss Miami (74 Frome St) and Proof (proof-bar.com) on Anster St join other hot venues such as Clever Little Tailor (cleverlittletailor.com.au), Udaberri (udaberri.com.au) and Cantina Sociale (cantinasociale.com.au).

    Adelaide comes to life during ‘Mad March’ when the city fills up with festivals and events including the Adelaide Festival of Arts, Adelaide Fringe, WOMADelaide and the Adelaide Cup horseracing. Next month (17-25 January 2015; tourdownunder.com.au) the Santos Tour Down Under is the largest sporting event in the state, a bicycle race that attracts more than 760,000 spectators along with the world’s best cyclists. With this in mind, make use of the free city bikes (bikesa.asn.au/AdelaideFreeBikes) and cycle alongside the River Torrens, which runs through the city all the way to the beach-lined suburbs of Glenelg and Henley Beach taking in some beautiful sites en route. Watch as the landscape changes from riverside urban hub to quaint countryside, filled with horses and wildlife before an abrupt and surreal stop beside the Gulf St Vincent. Adelaide Zoo (zoossa.com.au) is also on the outskirts of the city and takes a hands-on approach, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with many animals including, of course, the koala.

    Sea and sun awaits Down Under: the sands of Henley Beach © SATC/Josie Withers

    Stay at: Accommodation options in Adelaide have been slow to evolve but a new luxury hotel, the Mayfair (mayfairhotel.com.au) will open in 2015 offering contemporary five-star lodgings in the heart of the city. For something atmospheric, we love The Franklin (from £78; thefranklinhotel.com.au) a local boozer with rooms that have been redesigned with a hip urban aesthetic and come with a complimentary minibar, Nespresso machine and breakfast you assemble yourself. The Watson, part of Art Series Hotels (from £75; artserieshotels.com.au/watson), offers self-contained suites with every amenity and plenty of style in leafy Walkerville. In the Barossa Valley, The Louise (from £288; thelouise.com.au) is the place to stay with a gourmet restaurant, wine tours and tastings, and a lordly vineyard setting.

    Dine at: Food and wine culture is what this city is built on and residents take eating out very seriously. Entire streets, including Rundle Street, Gouger Street, Melbourne Street and O’Connell Street, are devoted to dining, with Peel Street a particular favourite. Here’s our top places to tuck in:

    Peel Street (peelst.com.au) is a low-key, high quality dining spot serving Middle Eastern and Asian fusion flavours in small and large plates. Think roasted leek and beetroot salad with tarator, crushed fried egg, dukkah and pomegranate, or betel leaves with roasted chilli, pork, oyster and peanut – it’s some of the best food in the city and ideal for an evening out with friends or a date.

    Spice up your life: the dining room at fermentAsian © SATC/Sven Kovac

    Orana (restaurantorana.com) is the city’s most progressive restaurant that has locals and critics alike in awe of chef Jock Zonfrillo’s unique take on indigenous tucker. Anyone fancy smoked Goolwa cockle, samphire risotto with smoked roo tail, or set buttermilk with strawberry & eucalyptus? It’s not cheap, but exceptional… For something less formal and expensive, try Street ADL (streetadl.com) its sister restaurant below, which does a take on Australian street food. Zonfrillo, a Scotsman, has appeared on Aussie Masterchef so you’re guaranteed an experience, whichever option you choose.

    In the swanky North Adelaide neighbourhood, Ruby Red Flamingo (rubyredflamingo.com) is a pop-up that went permanent when Adelaide went wild for its feast of Italian trattoria classics and quirky home-style setting. Arranged over the ground floor of an old private house with the menu chalked up by hand onto the walls, it’s like dining in an abandoned family home and has a lively, chaotic atmosphere and affordable dishes. In true cool-cat style, there’s a no-bookings policy so get there early to bag a table.

    fermentAsian (fermentasian.com.au) is a pricey and seriously authentic Asian joint cooked up by Vietnamese chef/owner Tuoi Do with a wine list as bold as the flavours thanks to her partner Grant Dickson, who works for Rockford Wines. Fresh betel leaves with sticky caramelised pork and incendiary components is delightful, or try the Barossa Berkshire pork belly with ginger and orange sauce.

    Award-winning Hentley Farm (hentleyfarm.com.au), in the Barossa Valley, has much to offer the next generation of educated foodies thanks to a dynamic young head chef at the helm with an unusual attitude to ingredients (even the sugar served with coffee has a twist – it’s coconut sugar). Two set menus are on offer (Du Jour and Discovery) both comprised of seasonal produce served in truly innovative style. The latter is a treat, save it for a special occasion, especially if you fancy the wine pairing (£73 a head).

    Fields of gold: vines in the Barrossa Valley
    © Nick Rains

    Wine time: At the heart of South Australia’s booming wine industry, Adelaide is home to the National Wine Centre of Australia (wineaustralia.com.au) which showcases the country’s wine industry. In less than an hour’s drive from the city you can find yourself in the Adelaide Hills or Barossa Valley, where some truly exceptional wine is produced – as well as being home to the oldest vines in the world (the antecedents of those brought from the Old World having later been destroyed by disease). A good way to explore this area is with Daimler Tours (barossadaimlertours.com.au) and its excellent guide and owner John Baldwin. You’ll cruise the countryside in one of his reconditioned 1962 Daimlers on a tailormade itinerary – you can even blend your own bottle at the D’Arenberg blending bench (darenberg.com.au).

    Bring home: Pick up some authentic Aussie work boots from cult bush outfitters, RM Williams (rmwilliams.com.au). The new ‘Millicent’ boot was recently worn on the catwalk by Dion Lee and is the perfect blend of slick style and real substance – these boots will last forever. Well worth the £320 price tag, they’re still made in Adelaide, 83 years after the brand was founded.

    Book now:
    Emirates (emirates.com) flies from six UK airports to Adelaide via Dubai, from £1,185 return in January 2015. A taxi to the city centre takes 15 minutes and costs around £8.

    Info: Central Australia (£15.99; Lonely Planet) covers the city or just download its Adelaide chapter (£2.99). Useful websites are southaustralia.com and australia.com.

    Lead image: Adelaide Central Market © SATC/Adam Bruzzone


    Reading now