Adelaide is a location that is not on many backpackers agenda, or even, anyone’s agenda. Even the locals were gob smacked to find out we were British backpackers and we’d stopped at Adelaide, staying in their small cosy city for two weeks. Although- don’t let that deter you from travelling here. We wanted to go to every state in Australia and we did.
Deciding to venture into the capital of Southern Australia, Adelaide, we were shocked to find the large number of towering spires popping out behind every major building. We could see why it was called “The State of Churches”. We were also shocked that there was nothing to do. Well, I’m lying, not nothing, I mean we went to the SA Museum where there was an interesting Aboriginal exhibition on, we went to the Botanic Gardens, National Wine Centre, River Torrens, Central Market and Victoria Square– but all of that took us about four hours? We had done all the tourist hotspots in 4 hours.
Although Adelaide has very little to do in the city, like most of Australia, the sights are out of the city centres and in the country side, filled with nature and beauty. We hired a car (although only being 18 we were let off as the manager was a “pommy” too) and we drove around Barossa Valley, the heart of wine country. The landscape was incredible, with the wind in our hair and the thrill of adventure at the steering wheel; we passed vineyard after vineyard, some varying in wealth and style, golden hay stacks in cultivated meadows, clumps of purple lavender clinging on to side bushes, boutique shops selling home made honey and delicious cheese, we wandered why we hand’t explored sooner. We stopped off wherever we wanted too and devoured as much freebies as we could. We took a different route home which allowed us to pass small towns of 500 people and strange large statues of random objects, as well as us ending at Mt Lofty Summit. I really recommend either going on a tour so you avoid driving and can get pissed or rent a car and take your time driving around the lofty hills of Barossa Valley.
Another main reason why there were backpackers in Adelaide, was to visit to Kangaroo Island. Now as negative as you might have noticed my tone is about Adelaide, Kangaroo Island is one of my favourite moments in Australia. After an early pick up, (6am- we normally went to bed at that time let alone wake up for it) we hopped on a ferry across the sea. The benefit of having such a small tour group meant our travel guide was the same guy throughout the entire trip and we got to know the people we were with well. We spent the first day driving round areas of the island lush with vegetation, with Kangaroos roaming wild and free all over- we had some very close encounters with our car! We saw the Remarkable Rocks, a set of rocks which had been eroded by the weather and had created marvellous structures one could climb up on, a koala walk where we walked underneath peaceful sleeping koalas in ecstasy, climbed hills to see fantastic views of the lapping shore merging with mountains, and at night walked the rocky cliffs to see penguins waiting in eager anticipation in hidden rock crevices for their partners. After a seriously good steak like tasty meal of Kangaroo, we had a go at blowing a didgeridoo around the camp fire, whilst the stars were painted all over the night sky. That day was one of the best moments of my life and it felt so perfectly Australian.
The next day we woke up early to walk along an animal reserve where sea lions were bathing, monstrous in size and sheer forces of power, calling out for their partners with gusto that sounded like shrieks and wails. This was an amazing experience because of the close proximity we had with the animals, that we were so close to these tremendous beasts, we could see drops of the ocean roll down their thick furry skin. As I avoided eye contact- so I wouldn’t be impaled by a sea lion (what a thing to tell my parents), I watched in awe at their body movements, how they used their fins to stand and how they threw their bodies against one another in anguish, acting territorial and embellishing their male attributes to all the females who looked their way.
Researching the city centre in advance, we booked accommodation at the seaside town of Glenelg at Glenelg Beach Hostel. This meant we were able to wander along the sea front as we pleased, passing boutique shops, pubs, bars and dozens of fresh and tasty fish n chip shops. The atmosphere reminded us of Torquay in England: the vicious seagulls and the smell of vinegar, but the sun shining reminded us gently where we were. Over time, (as we had lots of it), we found more things to do. We swam with “Dolphin Temptation” in Glenelg, where you would wear a snorkelling mask and hold on to a rope whilst being dragged behind a boat and spot dolphins. It was the strangest experience I’ve ever had which involved swimming with dolphins- though we were told it had this cautious aspect to it because of the Great White Sharks, which made it all a bit more terrifying. I would have loved to cage dive with sharks here but the price was 500 dollars and being ridiculously broke, I decided against it.
We spent our first night meeting some locals at our hostel and we were taken to town the Adelaide way, filled with average night clubs, the night life wasn’t what I expected for the biggest city in South Australia. This meant we spent most of our evenings watching the sun set on Glenelg Beach with fellow backpackers, relaxing and getting some much needed rest.