Before arriving in Adelaide we stopped over in Murray Bridge and stayed with Jeffrey and Heather Tubbenhauer. Jeffrey was one of the sons of my mothers’ youngest sister, so my Cousin. Here I picked up more missing pieces in the family history.
On the route we passed a restaurant with one of these huge lobster sculptures. Bill Bryson in his book touring Australia, remarked on these huge monstrosities!
Adelaide, established in 1836, now with 1.3 million inhabitants, is the largest town in South Australia and the fifth largest town in Australia. Its first industries were wool, wheat, mines (silver) and wine, which remains a key industry in South Australia today.
It is circa 700 kilometres from Melbourne and 1,100 kilometres from Sydney, and the distances in between are pretty sparcely populated which provides ample opportunties for the many National Parks which we have passed through.
Most of the population of South Australia live in its capital city and it does have a distinctive style which is different from the other big cities in Australia.
Adelaide is a planned city, designed by the first Surveyor-General of South Australia, Colonel William Light. His plan, now known as Light's Vision, arranged Adelaide in a grid, with five squares in the Adelaide city centre and a ring of parks, known as the Adelaide Parklands, surrounding it. It was not built upon convict labour, but rather, immigrants were required to buy land packages and then to employ labourers to help develop their plots.
The Torrens river runs through City Parklands and it reminded me a bit of wandering through the backs in Oxford as leisure boats and punts drifted past and green parkland and trees lined its banks.
Although many of the main public buildings are still Victorian and fairly grand, more recently SA has invested money on the main cultural centre and theatre in the central park and on the opposite river bank sits a fabulous recently refurbished Adelaide Oval sports complex.
The first building we saw when arriving in the Central Victoria Square was Saint Francis Xavier's Cathedral.
Being Easter, the Catholic Clergy were very busy taking confessions. In a quiet side Chapel I found this rather lovely painting.
Outside there was a statue of John McDouall Stuart, an early explorer, who created the first route through from South to the North of Australia. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_McDouall_Stuart
And on the other side of the Square was Charles Sturt, also an explorer who followed the Murray River and established that it was connected to other big rivers, thus providing potential for traversing the interior.
Also in this part of town, was the really busy Adelaide Central Market which was packed with fresh food stalls, cheeses, wholefoods and gifts.
There was also an Asian style food court with central tables (like the Hawkers in Singapore) where customers could choose their food from a wide range of merchants and carry their plates to their table.
We enjoyed walking up and down the main central streets and peering in the large chocolate shops buzzing with activity just before Easter.
The only troubling thing was that we saw little groups of Indiginous people, many of whom were very drunk, jostling, swearing and fighting conspicuously outside the state Art Gallery complex. The guy pictured below was not part of that group and he told me his name was Singer.
A roving vehicle in the vicinity announced itself to be some kind of indiginous resource. I approached them and asked whether they were there to intervene. Their response was, that they were there to provide them with transport home, particularly when drunk, but only if they volunteered to leave. Otherwise it was for the public to call the police if it was a matter of public safety.
We were staying out of town with my Cousins, Antony and Robin Radford. Their lives were adventurous: they had worked in New Guinea and many other parts of the world. Hugely interesting couple, one an archivist and the other a medic. Massively well travelled and a houseful of books and momentos of a life well lived.
It was Robin, the Archivist, who showed me that, in Kingaroy, there is a square named for my Grandmother. It is in recognition of the fact that she was highly regarded as a doctor in the town plus the first woman to be a local Councillor.
There is also an annual prize giving to be awarded to a young pioneering woman GP.
Australian Newspaper cuttings have been digitised on ‘Trove’ and I had great fun trawling for news of the Kent-Hughes family down the ages. When we left Anthony gave us a signed copy of his book, Have Stethoscope, Will Travel, to accompany us on the rest of our exploration of Australia.
Anthony, Robin and Jim
When we came in to town on the second occasion, we opted for a scooter to get us to the far side of the central area.
We then visited the Anglican Cathedral, a bit hidden away from the centre, across the Torrens River and passed a very flash new sports stadium, which we discovered later had recently cost $535m.
We wondered why the Anglican Cathedral was located in what must have been originally, on the edge of town. We then discovered that they had hoped to construct it on Victoria Square, but permission was not granted and the site selected at the opposite end of the main King William Street, was second best.
As well as a statue of Sir Don Bradman the famous cricketer, there was an Australian Rules footballer, Barrie Robran. The stadium had been designed to bring the sport closer to the centre of town.
Our coffee break was taken on the River banks adjacent to the Cultural Centre and our lunch break was also on the river banks further along, and we watched boats drifting down and various birds and black swans.
The leaves falling on the grass were taking a seasonal autumnal turn.
We were tickled by a sign warning us about the Pelicans - which we did not see!
We made our way through the Botanical Gardens and other parklands, passed trees dripping in noisy live bats hanging upsidedown from the branches. It reminded us of the Botanical Gardens in Kandy, Sri Lanka where we had seen them before.
I am not sure that the peculiarly Australian Magpies were impressed?
We then found ourselves at the entrance to the wine Museum. It was clear that the vineyards in South Australia are a very important part of the economy and a matter of great local pride.
We heard more than once about the Lutherans who arrived in 1838, escaping religious persecution and clutching precious vine cuttings which later become the seed stock for the burgeoning wine industry in South Australia. Wherever there is good wine, there is good food and Adelaide has a bit of a reputation for good food.
No visit to Adelaide is complete without a visit to Mount Lofty which sits in a commanding position overlooking the city with views of the sea behind.
It was ‘discovered’ by Flinders, and in commemoration of this fact, the obelisk on its peak is called Flinders Column.
As we were leaving, we saw people looking up into the trees close to the Car Park. Lo and behold, finally, we saw our first non-captive Koala bears. Lofty tree huggers.
Before we left Adelaide we went out for a meal with our hosts. They chose a Mongolian restaurant. We have had to drive all the way to Australia to eat at our first Mongolian Restaurant, the Kubla Khan.
We selected our food and it was cooked in front of us on this huge hob, stir-fry style.