Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The Fringes of Adelaide, Australia

Adelaide Fringe Festival
That Aussie Sense of Humour:  Someone's in the Dog House
a View of a Private Yard from Main Street Hahndorf
You may recall an earlier blog http://hpdsinc.blogspot.ca/2016/03/australia-country-people-quirks.html, the first of a series of posts designed to share the experiences of our Spring vacation to  Australia.  I spoke about the undeniable beauty of the country (or at least, the bits that we visited) and the hospitality of the local folks.    Last, but far from least, I mentioned the off-beat sense of humour we found.  Now that you have a bit of background on Australia and some of its unique qualities, I think it's time to dive in and talk about some of the places we visited.
 Traditional Fachwerk Building
Part of what inspired this trip was the fact that my niece is temporarily living in the land Down Under, a bit more than a hop, skip and a jump from Adelaide, South Australia.  We decided this was as good a place as any to start our month long run away and, I have to tell you, we weren't disappointed.  While she slaved away at her job, we honed our driving skills (and that took some time, let me tell you!) and explored not only her 'hometown' of Mount Barker, and goodly portion of the nearby community. Here are a few of the area highlights.

Dunn's Flour Mill - circa 1844

Beginning with the jewel of the Adelaide Hills, Hahndorf is Australia's oldest surviving German settlement.  If the main street, lined with century-old elm, cork and plane trees, beautifully maintained and restored 'fachwerk'  (half timber) buildings, Australia's oldest Lutheran Church and its unique  history  doesn't inspire you to hang around, perhaps the numerous trendy eateries, gift shops and galleries fronting  will.   In 1839, 38 German Lutheran immigrants arrived in Port Adelaide to join 14 previously settled families. Captain Dirk Hahn helped negotiate 100 acres of farmland free for the first year, along with seeds and some livestock on credit.   Over time, Hahndorf became a major service centre for the region and it's easy to see why.  The City never lost its gratitude for the Danish Captain that helped obtain land; not only did they name the community in his honor, his bust stands in the park.  Today, it's a charming tourist destination where we easily wiled away the better part of a day.  If you're in the area, don't miss it.
Rundle Malls Balls

Scenes from Adelaides Fringe Festival
Known as the City of Festivals, we made time to peel back a few of Adelaide's many layers.  There is a colonial elegance about the city that can't be missed; at the same time,  we also found something new to discover around every corner. Rundle Mall, for example, is much more than a shopping meca; with its  Malls Balls, Rundle Mall Pigs, Beehive Corner--surely even the names spike your curiosity--it's a bit like going to a Fantasia-themed museum. Located in the cultural centre of the City doesn't hurt either.  We happened to be visiting during the Fringe Festival and what a feast for the senses it was!  The word, eclectic, comes to mind, with a program of cabaret, comedy, circus, dance, film, theatre, music, visual art. . . did i miss anything?  The Festival's #1 goal is to 'surprise and wow the audience' and I do believe it succeeded with every single person in our little entourage!
From there, we thought we would take it down a notch and head for a stroll along one of Adelaide's many beautiful beaches before grabbing a bite to eat.  We found ourselves catching the tram for Glenelg, a popular beach-side suburb on the Gulf of St. Vincent.  Established in 1836, it is the oldest European settlement on mainland South Australia.  Always a popular spot for recreation and leisure,

Glenelg Jetty, Holdfast Bay, Adelaide
it is also home to Adelaide's tallest residential building, the 14-story Atlantic tower.   Home to Jetty Road, a long ribbon of shops and other commercial activities, there is also a free museum about Glenelg's history, as well as a shark museum owned by conservationist and shark attache survivor, Rodney Fox.
the ever popular Glenelg Beach, Holdfast Bay, Adelaide
Incidentally, you might be interested to know that the state of South Australia is a wee bit different than the vast majority of the continent.  Founded in 1836, Adelaide's claim to fame is that it is the 'planned capital' for a freely-settled British province.  A grid layout, interspaced by wide boulevards and large public squares, Adelaide was shaped by prosperity and wealth and noted for its religious freedom, commitment to political progressivism and civil liberties.  It has been ranked the most liveable City in Australia numerous times.