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Melbourne is fast becoming the most populated urban destination in Australia. This is a good thing, for it means that visitors to Oz see more of the country than surfboards and Sydney. With its underground art scene and understated bars, the Melbourne mentality is drawing hipsters and holiday-makers from around the world in droves.

In this post, we wonder what other Australian cities have been underrated and ignored in the past, and take a look at Adelaide. With good drink, exotic food and plenty of activities, will this city be the next to experience the boom that has grown up in Melbourne?

mains at The Art Gallery Restaurant (SA)
Photo Credit: Stephanie

Eating, Drinking and Getting About

Adelaide is the capital of South Australia and is nestled in between the coast and the low-lying Mount Lofty Ranges. The ‘60s and ‘70s saw a revival of the arts in the city, which brought with it a renaissance of restaurants, bars and evening amusements, which are now principally centered around Hindley Street. Along this road and branching off from it, intrepid visitors with varying palates can choose from a range of grungy garage clubs to sophisticated cigar and cocktail lounges. For those visiting the higher-class joints, Blacklane provides a limousine chauffeur service to whip you straight from Adelaide airport into the heart of the city, wasting no time in getting on your swag for the City of Churches (a slightly outdated nickname, and one that is unlikely to dampen the fun to be had at night.)

The city offers more diversity each year in the way of culinary delights. If you're walking down Leigh Street, look carefully and you should be able to find a hole in the wall, Udaberri, a small pocket of the Mediterranean in the Pacific. This is where you can sample the finest Spanish rioja, as well as a great selection of beer on tap. Even better, Udaberri have an exciting menu of pintxos (Basque tapas) with accoutrements such as oysters, tortillas and jamon.

Adelaide Central Market
Photo Caption: Philip Bouchard

Market Finds

Beyond such little wonders however, if you ask any Adelaidean where to find the best food in the city, they are likely to point you in the direction of the mammoth Central Market. With over 250 stalls, you will be able to try a smorgasbord of cuisines both indigenous to Australia and that from the far-flung corners of the Earth. Stilton from Great Britain can be sampled in the aptly titled ‘Smelly Cheese Shop’ and German sausage and salami is on offer at the ‘Mettwurst Shop’. If on the hunt for something with a bit more spice, then the ever bustling and vibrant China Town is just around the corner, complete with street performers and billowing lanterns.

Close to the Coast

It may not be the Great Barrier Reef, but like most Australian cities, Adelaide’s coast can boast some beautiful beaches, the best to be found on Kangaroo Island. Unfortunately, the surf isn’t fantastic in Adelaide, so those keen for the waves are recommended to head up to Mid Coast or South Coast, 50 and 90 minutes’ drive away respectively. Visitors can wander along the banks of the River Torrens which runs down from the Adelaide Hills to Henley Beach and pause at Lake Torrens for a particularly tranquil picnic made up of the goods purchased from Central Market.

Art Exhibition
Photo Credit: Theen Moy

Art in Adelaide

Although Adelaide cannot yet compete with Melbourne’s status as Australia’s Capital of Culture, there is still plenty in the city for art lovers to sink their teeth into. The Art Gallery of South Australia in particular has a great selection of pictures ranging from modern Aboriginal art to centuries-old Islamic and European paintings and sculptures. Ayers House Museum, also located on North Terrace, is just around the corner and boasts the sublime Lyon and Cottier ceiling in the dining room, considered one of the best painted ceilings in the world. For local Adelaide art, visitors can pop along to Tarts in Gays Arcade for some refreshing homegrown and not-for-profit work.

All in all, Adelaide is blooming with activities and sights. If not today, one day this city will surely see the same celebration and influx of visitors that Melbourne is currently experiencing.

Ella is a freelance travel writer who has written several articles on the art and culture scene in Australia. She dabbles in photography and art. 

Main photo credit: Matthew Jones

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