Wednesday, September 28th, 2011: Adelaide, Australia
As the capital of South Australia and with more than 1 million living in and around the city, we decided to spend the day right in the city and take advantage of a number of different sights and things to do right in downtown!
As we exited the ship, we headed to the free shuttle bus into town and made the 40 minute drive into town. Though the ship only docks about 16kms from the main city center, the traffic on a commute morning proved to be substantial and just to add to the fun, as we boarded our bus, the sky opened up and the rain began to pour down. We’ve found in Australia that although it has rained minimally on this trip, when it rains, it rains a lot in a very short period of time. This time was no exception.
The city center of Adelaide is in the shape of a rectangle and is neatly bordered by four streets aptly named North, South, East, and West Terrace. It’s easy to figure out where you are in relation to more everywhere else and most everywhere can be walked in about 15 minutes. If you need some more help, there is a tram, bus, and train service available to take you everywhere else, including a free city circle bus and tram that you can get on and off at your leisure.
The shuttle bus dropped us off at the corner of Rundle Mall (open air, pedestrian only shopping mall that stretched nearly a mile with hundreds of shops) and Haigh’s Chocolate Shop (is that a combination or what?). It was still raining, so we decided to make our way up to the National Wine Centre of Australia for our first stop as it was indoors and out of the rain (plus!).
After a short 15 minute walk in the downpour, we were pretty well soaked, but arrived at the contemporary two story structure in the southeast corner of the Botanical Garden and made our way inside to dry out. Although portions of the building were not available due to a private function (a day conference on sustainable environmental practices in secondary education? — Any excuse to serve wine I guess!), we were able to see a number of excellent and interactive displays on the wine growing history and making process in Australia. Plenty of things with buttons and screens and that light up for Darin and a virtual “build your own winery” program for Natalie in which her Shiraz earned a Bronze medal!
As we closed out our visit to the Wine Centre we got to view the high tech tasting room and the huge sub-level cellar with rack upon rack of wine bottles encompassing all 52 wine making regions of the country. Exiting the center, the dark clouds made something of a retreat and we were treated again to blue skies as we entered and walked through the Botanical Gardens of Adelaide.
With the fresh downpour now completed, the garden was filled with clean fresh air and made the walk that much more enjoyable as we took in the many trees, plants, flowers, and exhibits on display. In addition to seeing the huge conservatory on the property and the “classground” (cross between classroom and playground was the best we could come up with), we got to walk through a special display of Amazonian water lilies and lily pads (massive in size, each can grow to 3 feet in diameter!)
Just as we were exiting the grounds, we felt like salmon working our way upriver as schools of kids from the local schools descended on the gardens in droves to learn about the science and study of plants (and no kids — its not “biology”, no matter how many times you say it to the tour guides…) Now that our own personal botany lesson for the day was complete, we headed back to North Terrace and headed west towards the bisecting north-south roadway of King William Street where we arrived a few minutes later at the South Australian Museum.
The museum is home to four levels of varying displays and changing exhibitions with today’s focus on Aboriginal culture and artifacts for this changing and evolving people within Australia. In addition to a number of displays on Aboriginal hunting, medicine, dream storytelling (critically important to the oral history of the people), and artwork, the museum also contained exhibits on the island peoples of Fiji, New Caledonia, and Vanuatu (amongst others), underwater life in Australia’s oceans, Ancient Egypt, Antartica expeditions, and more!
As we passed the Allosaurus skeleton in the entryway lobby to head back out into the city, we made our way back into the central city square and over to the Central Market, a home of local produce, fresh meats and seafood, and where the locals get a Farmers Market experience everyday right in the heart of downtown. We took some time to just walk around the market and then hopped on the free city circle bus back to the pickup point for the free shuttle back to the ship.
Apparently the weather forces at work granted us from the ship a short reprieve from the earlier rains, because just as we arrived back to the port to reboard the ship, the wind picked up and the crashing waves and blowing sea water from the wharf increased dramatically. Fortunately, we all found a comfortable spot back on ship with which to relax the rest of the afternoon as we began our sailout towards our next port of Melbourne. We had a great introduction to the capital of South Australia and look forward to our return visit in November!