Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Adelaide: More than OK, Actually

My mum's visiting Australia for the first time in her life, spending the majority of her three weeks wandering around Sydney (it's a big place!). She traveled with me last weekend to only one city outside of Sydney: Adelaide, in South Australia. When I told Aussies where we were going, the question was always "why?" - Adelaide doesn't exactly have the greatest reputation. The Melbourne mayor went so far as to effectively recommend that Adelaide be shut down, due to its uselessness. So I went to Adelaide prepared for a city of churches and dull-dom, but I actually encountered amazing natural sights and a vast array of entertainment options. Check out my description of the highlights below, or if you're a visual sort, just go through my Adelaide Flickr collection.

Faulty Towers Interactive Dinner

My mum is British, so when I saw the advert for a dinner in the style of this classic British comedy, I knew it'd be perfect for our first night in Adelaide. Our hosts were Basil, Sybil, and Manuel, and the dinner was a series of well orchestrated haphazards and improvised arguments with us, the guests. And as much as they tried to make the dinner service disruptive, the food was still delicious - my first stone grilled steak, but definitely not my last.

Glenelg Town Hall Museum

Yes, yes, a town's museum. But, this museum contained more than the usual "bla bla discovered X and settled Y and then war happened and stuff". It had *2* special exhibits dedicated to retro arcades - machines that you'd either wind or put a coin in, and you'd see some puppet animation - like a monkey's eyes moving, or 2 sharks boxing. Though we've moved way beyond such simple mechanics these days, it's still very satisfying to think "hmm, what's going to happen?", do some winding, and then, "oo! the arms moved!". One of the coin-operated arcades was a skeleton fortune teller - I asked it if I should ever get a PhD, and it responded back with exactly my thoughts (below). Oh, well...

Kangaroo Island

Most people know this as the "only good reason" for visiting Adelaide, and it is indeed a good one. During the guided bus tour of the island, you visit Seal beach, Remarkable Rocks (aptly named, trust me), Birds of Prey park, and Admiral's Arch. The most memorable moment was at the seal beach, when the guide was telling us we had to keep atleast 10 meters away from any seals at all times, and then suddenly realized that a seal was walking in front of us. We patiently followed 10 meters behind the seal as he led us to the beach, and at that point, I think we were all sufficiently in love with seals. Seeing 2 baby seals scampering on the beach "sealed" the deal. :)

Coorong River

In this tour, you spend much of the day on a boat with about 30 other people, and stop to take walks among the sand dunes. It's a lesser known tour, and that's a good thing - it's still got an intimacy/charm that the commercialized Kangaroo Island tour is lacking. Everything was a highlight: hunting for "cockles" (clams) in the ocean and swallowing them raw, eating deliciously fried cockles, rolling down a sand dune, accidentally stumbling upon an aboriginal skeleton, digging for (and drinking) freshwater from the ground, and spotting a koala on the ride back.

Botanical Gardens

Adelaide has an impressive set of gardens - cacti, roses, giant freaking Amazon water lilys, and more. It was a great place to wander around with a camera and a nose, and I was thrilled that a butterfly finally rested on a flower long enough for me to take a close-up.


James Martin said...

The only reason to go to Adelaide is because it's close to Barossa Valley - tell me you went there, got sloshed and decided not to blog about it!

Incidentally, what are you talking about at JAOO?

Pamela Fox said...

Which James are you, James?!

Nope, my mum doesn't really drink so much..but we did go to the wine center and learn about wines. :)

At JAOO, I'm doing a talk on App Engine and hopefully a workshop on Maps API.