Adelaide is a city on the march
IN THE middle of February, Adelaide put aside its electricity embarrassment and moved on. Quickly. There was simply too much to look forward to. March was approaching and that meant event and festival time, or as the locals call it, Mad March.
During our February visit Adelaide was hosting the Australian Women's Open at The Royal Adelaide Golf Club (February 16-19) and every top female player in the world had come to compete for big prize money on the world-class course. And they were loving it - particularly the railway track cutting a quirky swathe through the golf course. Many photos of the trains were taken by the players as they practised and prepared for the four-day event.
However, once the Open began, trains were halted and hundreds of volunteers, thrilled to be part of this significant world event, helped the crowds follow their favourite players around the course.
It seemed as though the whole sporting world had come to Royal Adelaide during those four heady days of elite golf. Celebrity-spotting and autograph-hunting were the go, while the cameras captured all the golf action, and behind the scenes enormous production trucks with satellite dishes and swarms of crews beamed the event out to the world.
Adelaide was rightly proud of itself - is rightly proud. The city no longer plays second-fiddle to its eastern city counterparts. It is setting trends and claiming major events.
Just this month WOMAD, Adelaide Fringe, Clipsal 500 (a street circuit car race), the Adelaide Cup, Adelaide Festival of Arts and Adelaide Writer's Week will take place ... and that's just part of Mad March action.
Then in the first week of May, Tasting Australia will take centre stage when food lovers from across the globe converge on South Australia for a large-scale line-up of culinary events.
The food scene in Adelaide is epic. The restaurant, cafe, pub and bar options could keep you interested every day for an entire year. Eat Streets have sprung up in the city's outlying suburbs. New chefs and restaurateurs are joining established eateries to present global cuisines while focusing on South Australia's bountiful produce.
Then there is the "20-minute city" approach, when locals tell us that everything we want - from the beautiful beaches to the legendary hills - is no more than a 20-minute drive away.
"I've been to London, Rome and Paris but none compares to Adelaide," our taxi driver proudly told us on the way from the airport. He wasn't joking. "Those cities might have history but we have the lifestyle in Adelaide. Everything we want is here."
And he's not wrong about the lifestyle.
Cutting-edge art galleries, high-end shopping and a vibrant theatre scene all make Adelaide a most liveable city. Elegant old sandstone buildings are surrounded by parks, gardens and green spaces. A laneway culture is emerging and keeping up with the ever-growing coffee culture.
With the Adelaide Hills and the Barossa Valley on the doorstep the wine world waits - and with more than 200 cellar doors you're spoilt for choice.
We loved Artisans of Barossa, a stylish restaurant-cellar door where six great winemakers, renowned for producing some of the Barossa's most exciting handmade wines, come together for tasting under the one roof. At 3pm when we called in the place was pumping with enthusiastic diners lingering over lunch, the wine flowing in the tasting room and the food coming out of the kitchen at a fast clip.
It was a similar scene at Maggie Beer's Farm Shop as customers sampled every one of her beautiful products generously available for tasting.
With autumn here and winter approaching, it will only get better in South Australia as comforting fires are lit in wineries and restaurants and the big reds the state is famous for will be ready to consume with some of the country's most daring and delicious food.
The writer was a guest of South Australia Tourism.