Gal­leries and gar­dens

Ade­laide is ideal for strolling, cy­cling and his­tory hunt­ing

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - CHRISTINE MCCABE

1. Art Gallery of South Aus­tralia: This hand­some stal­wart of Ade­laide’s North Ter­race cul­tural precinct is feel­ing the winds of change un­der Nick Mitze­vich, the gallery’s youngest di­rec­tor in 130 years.

The El­der Wing, repos­i­tory for an im­pres­sive col­lec­tion of colo­nial art, has a bold new look, while the Mel­rose Wing has been in­vaded by Saatchi’s YBAs (young Bri­tish artists). In the El­der, el­e­gant cham­bers are painted in strik­ing colours to high­light their ar­chi­tec­tural fea­tures while in­dige­nous art from the colo­nial pe­riod now hangs along­side the oils. So we have Mar­garet Pre­ston and Tiwi grave poles in one cor­ner while a por­trait of Cap­tain James Cook hangs next to a bark paint­ing de­pict­ing Ma­cas­san traders.

All the well-loved trea­sures are here — in­clud­ing Aus­tralia’s ear­li­est known oil paint­ing, John Lewin’s 1813 Fish Catch and Dawes Point, Syd­ney Har­bour — as well as early 20th-cen­tury art and some 20 new works pre­sented to the gallery to com­mem­o­rate this year’s 130th an­niver­sary. Mitze­vich’s en­ergy for change will be fully ev­i­dent this month when he launches The Saatchi Gallery in Ade­laide: Bri­tish Art Now, your only chance to catch the YBAs in Aus­tralia.

The ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tures 122 works by 42 artists, in­clud­ing Tracey Emin’s fa­mous ( or in­fa­mous) My Bed. The ex­hi­bi­tion runs un­til Oc­to­ber 23. More: art­gallery.sa.gov.au. 2. Break­fast at Cen­tral Mar­ket: OK, so it’s no real se­cret. Ade­laide’s 142-year-old Cen­tral Mar­ket is South Aus­tralia’s most vis­ited tourist site, notch­ing up about 1.3 mil­lion vis­i­tors a month. This old-fash­ioned pro­duce mar­ket, hous­ing more than 80 spe­cial­ity stores, is the largest in the south­ern hemi­sphere. In­ter­na­tional and in­ter­state vis­i­tors adore it and most lo­cals would rather shop here than at a su­per­mar­ket.

Go be­hind the scenes with Mark Glee­son, stall-holder, slow food devo­tee, olive oil judge and all-round bon vi­vant. To­gether with a co­terie of ded­i­cated food­ies, he op­er­ates a se­ries of gourmet walk­ing tours of this lively precinct. The early-riser tour is pop­u­lar: break­fast fol­lowed by a 90-minute ram­ble, tast­ing olive oil with home-baked sour­dough bread, sam­pling French cheeses, scoff­ing divine lemon curd tart, down­ing Smoky Bay oys­ters and end­ing with a restora­tive cof­fee.

‘‘Mul­tigen­er­a­tional fam­i­lies are the bedrock of this place,’’ says Glee­son, who in­tro­duces tour mem­bers to long-time stall­hold­ers — peo­ple such as Nicci and Maria (whose Lu­cia’s Pizze­ria & Spaghetti Bar is an Ade­laide in­sti­tu­tion) and the Marino fam­ily, who’ve been mak­ing world-class small­go­ods here for more than five decades.

Glee­son also of­fers pri­vate morn­ing tours of the wider mar­ket precinct, vis­it­ing artists’ stu­dios, stall­hold­ers and restau­ra­teurs. More: cen­tral­mar­ket­tour.com.au. 3. Down­hill from Mt Lofty: Home to the an­nual Santos Tour Down Un­der (the first pro cy­cle tour­ing race out­side Europe), Ade­laide has gone a lit­tle cy­cle crazy in re­cent years. One of the city’s best ped­als is run by Es­cape­goat, down­hill from Mt Lofty in the Ade­laide Hills via wind­ing moun­tain bike trails and bush tracks, with a chance to have morn­ing tea with the kan­ga­roos en route at Cle­land Con­ser­va­tion Park.

This great lit­tle tour prom­ises panoramic city views from the sum­mit of Mt Lofty (at 710m, the high­est point in the ranges). The all-down­hill ride is fun, some­times a lit­tle hair-rais­ing for moun­tain bike novices ( never fear, the tu­ition is out­stand­ing), and af­fords a chance to en­joy great bush scenery. You’re quite likely to see koalas and kan­ga­roos in the wild and are guar­an­teed a one-on-one in the con­ser­va­tion park. More: es­cape­goat.com.au.

If you sim­ply want to pedal around town (Ade­laide is cus­tom­made for bik­ing, with wide, flat streets, 760ha of park­lands and a grow­ing net­work of cy­cle lanes), free bikes are avail­able from lo­ca­tions around the city. All you need is photo ID. More: ade­laidecity­coun­cil.com. 4. Grave mat­ters: Ex­plor­ing his­tory via ceme­ter­ies is a grow­ing tourism niche and at Ade­laide’s West End, one of the old­est work­ing ceme­ter­ies in the coun­try, far­sighted cus­to­di­ans have launched what they be­lieve to be an Aus­tralian first — a com­pre­hen­sive and of­ten in­trigu­ing in­ter­pre­ta­tive trail. Site of Aus­tralia’s first cre­ma­to­rium and fi­nal home to about 150,000 souls, the 27.6ha grounds were zoned by Ade­laide’s town plan­ner ex­traor­di­naire Colonel Wil­liam Light and date from 1837.

Trail maps are avail­able at the main en­trance and about 50 note­wor­thy graves are marked with small plaques that tell a colour­ful tale of the state’s his­tory. There’s the tragic death of dancer Madeleine Parker, vis­it­ing with the Bal­let Russe in 1936, or Henry Hol­brook, one of 89 to per­ish with the SS Ad­mella in 1859. There’s also the chance to com­mune with Ade­laide’s great and good, in­clud­ing for­mer premier Charles Cameron Kingston (his min­istry is cred­ited with giv­ing women the vote), who served the equiv­a­lent of a good be­hav­iour bond af­ter chal­leng­ing a po­lit­i­cal op­po­nent to a pis­tol duel in Vic­to­ria Square. Those were the good old days. The ceme­tery opens at 6am daily, clos­ing at 6.30pm in win­ter and 8.30pm in sum­mer. More: aca.sa.gov.au. 6. Mu­seum of Eco­nomic Botany: Deep within Ade­laide’s lovely Botanic Gar­dens on North Ter­race, this ar­chi­tec­tural gem is one of the world’s last re­main­ing museums of eco­nomic botany, a seem­ingly ar­chaic repos­i­tory for weird seed pods and sundry grains and nuts. But don’t let that de­ter you, as this charm­ing mu­seum is quite un­like any other. It was re­opened in 2009 fol­low­ing a year-long restora­tion; the orig­i­nal dis­play cab­i­nets and or­nate ceil­ing are now com­ple­mented by pieces cour­tesy of Ade­laide con­tem­po­rary de­signer Khai Liew. The mu­seum hosts tour­ing ex­hi­bi­tions and an in­trigu­ing per­ma­nent col­lec­tion of plant ma­te­rial and botan­i­cal art. Mod­elled on a sim­i­lar mu­seum at Lon­don’s Kew, the Greek re­vival build­ing was opened in 1881 to hoard seeds and other plant ma­te­rial es­sen­tial to a colony de­pen­dent on agri­cul­ture. (Plant hunt­ing was all the rage in the late 19th cen­tury and the gar­dens’ great­est prize from that era, the gi­gan­tic Vic­to­ria ama­zon­ica wa­terlily, can be viewed in a nearby pavil­ion.)

Given di­min­ish­ing bio­di­ver­sity and the cre­ation of the Millennium Seed Bank, this be­guil­ing mu­seum is once again as­ton­ish­ingly rel­e­vant. Open Wed­nes­day- Fri­day, 10am-4pm; daily dur­ing ex­hi­bi­tions. And don’t for­get to check out the Gar­den of Health. More: botan­ic­gar­dens.sa.gov.au. 7. House and gar­den: Cap­ture a whiff of Agatha Christie-era glam­our at the won­der­ful Car­rick Hill, one of the few grand pe­riod homes in Aus­tralia to sur­vive with its fur­ni­ture, im­pres­sive art col­lec­tion and ram­bling English gar­dens in­tact.

Lo­cated on 40ha in the up­scale sub­urb of Spring­field, 15 min­utes from the CBD, and af­ford­ing far­reach­ing city and sea views, the house was be­queathed, lock, stock and bar­rel, to the peo­ple of South Aus­tralia in 1986 by Ed­ward and Ur­sula Hay­ward.

The Hay­wards were great col­lec­tors and it’s worth com­ing here just to see the art (Wil­liam Do­bell, Hans Hey­sen, Don­ald Friend and Rus­sell Drys­dale are all rep­re­sented). And al­though it dates from the 1930s, the house’s grand pro­por­tions are built around an im­pres­sive stair­case and acres of wood pan­elling from an old Stafford­shire Tu­dor coun­try house, picked up at a 1935 de­mo­li­tion sale. The fam­i­lyfriendly gar­dens in­clude a cafe and Sto­ry­book Trail. More: car­rick­hill.sa.gov.au.

southaus­tralia.com Next week in our Se­cret Seven se­ries: Ho­bart. 5. City cel­lar doors: Ade­laide is cuffed by vines but you don’t need to leave town to visit a cel­lar door. The fam­ily-run Tomich Wines is the lat­est com­pany to open in the city. It’s only five min­utes from the CBD in an up­scale shop­ping strip on King Wil­liam Road and housed in an el­e­gant blue­stone villa.

Tomich of­fers tu­tored tast­ings of flights of sin­gle-vine­yard Ade­laide Hills wines. More: tomich­hill.com.au.

Af­ter a tast­ing, take a stroll to Mantra or As­sag­gio for lunch. The McLaren Vale-based Aramis Vine­yards has opened a new cel­lar door en route to the air­port (29 Sir Don­ald Brad­man Drive; open Mon­day-Fri­day, 11am to 4pm). Ade­laide’s most fa­mous cel­lar door (and home to Grange), the his­toric Mag­ill Es­tate, is a 15-minute cab ride from the CBD. At this Aussie trea­sure you can sam­ple Pen­folds wines or take a tour through the un­der­ground tun­nels and her­itage-listed cel­lars. The two-hour Great Grange Tour of­fers the chance to sam­ple Grange and five other pre­mium wines and op­er­ates by ap­point­ment on Sun­days; $150. More: pen­folds.com.au.

SOUTH AUS­TRALIAN TOURISM COM­MIS­SION/MIL­TON WORDLEY

The South Aus­tralian cap­i­tal is ideal for bik­ing, with wide and flat streets, a grow­ing net­work of cy­cle lanes and 760ha of park­lands

BROOKE WHATNALL

Art Gallery of South Aus­tralia’s new-look El­der Wing

CALUM ROBERT­SON

Mark Glee­son op­er­ates walk­ing tours of Cen­tral Mar­ket

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