People talk about places to go and be – Rio for Carnevale, London for Wimbledon, anywhere for the Olympics. Let me tell you this: it takes a lot to beat Adelaide in March. Really! Adelaide. Yes, Adelaide. Let me tell you why.
I’ve been going to Adelaide for several years now for Writers’ Week (spelt correctly here, but not in their program), but this year I went with friends from the US, people who know nothing about Writers’ Week or Adelaide, so I saw Adelaide in March with objective eyes. And they were ecstatic about the experience.
The Joy of Writers’ Week
Writers’ Week is not for Writers alone. It’s for thinkers. The joy of sitting outside under huge trees in beautiful, warm, still, sunny, early autumn weather listening to people talk about their lives (an author’s first book is almost always autobiographical), about other places (this year Korea, Palestine, Middle East, China, Syria, Scotland and more), about ideas (only child, refugees, jihad, fragrance, true crimes) charges my batteries for reading and thinking for the year. Seven sessions a day for an hour, for free, with two choices simultaneously, talking to those strangers sitting next to you is simply a unique experience. But Adelaide in March has much more.
The Fringe Festival at Night
Staying in the city this year meant we could walk to the Fringe events at night. To give you an idea of the variety available, the Fringe lasts a month, the program is more than 50 pages long and there are several different shows on each page. An Adelaide friend booked 30 shows to see. And the cost is low. At around $30 a show, you can even afford failures. We saw two shows at random, based on immediate availability (time and location) and both were memorable and very funny. Puppetry of the Penis was a full frontal shock to my US friends, despite it touring the world for 20 years. The Best Of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival had 3 different standup comedians from the UK, two of whom were laserlike with observations of Australian culture and behaviours.
The buzz of the crowds in the Garden of Unearthly Delights (around 15 different venues operating simultaneously in a piece of parkland) and we didn’t even get to the similarly structured Royal Croquet Club or Gluttony or the Palais Theatre) was fun, even if you didn’t go to a show. Just walking the city streets between events was another show of its own. Staying in the city made this possible, something I hadn’t experienced in previously years when I’d stayed in the suburbs with friends.
The Grand Architecture and Urban Landscapes of Adelaide
Walking the city streets during the day with international friends, you are reminded how wonderfully well preserved is the architecture and history of this city, how graceful is the planned city, its surrounding huge parklands and botanical gardens, how glorious the array of huge gums in city and suburbs, the personalised local experience of strip shopping instead of amorphous malls.
I had forgotten too how white and fine the sand is on the local beaches and how warm is the water compared with the cold of the Victorian waters I live in. And the hidden gem of the National Wine Centre on the edge of the CBD was a unique experience for international visitors, with lots of potential waiting to be realised.
But Wait, There’s More, Much More
We didn’t have time to take in the Adelaide Festival itself, which is the head event under which Writers’ Week and the Fringe exist. Nor did we take in the Clipsal 500 car races on the CBD street circuit. We didn’t get to Cleland Reserve, experience a game at the new Adelaide Oval, walk along the Torrens, go to any of the wine areas…and astute readers will note the absence of any food experiences (I never travel for food, as it is so good wherever you go in the world these days).
But we did visit Morialta Reserve (a Flinders Ranges-like experience in the heart of a major city, spotting 6 koalas in the wild), the Hans Heysen gallery, Hahndorf and more, all in the space of a few days. We wished we had more time – a week or more – but you take what you can get.
So, if you have time, go to Adelaide in March. Whatever your taste or even your budget, you can’t fail to have a good time if you’re open to a breadth of experiences. Wow! Can’t wait till next year already.