WHAT’S IN THE WATER IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA?
Adelaide is enjoying a cultural shift of late – or are we simply taking notice of what was already there? Expat Sophie Tedmanson asks local creatives what makes it so unique.
Adelaide is enjoying a cultural shift of late – or are we simply taking notice of what was already there?
Adelaide used to be the conservative aunt of Australian cities, but now it feels more like this aunty is going through a mid-life crisis – a very excellent buy-a-new-Ferrari, wearexcellent-footwear-and-drink-champagne-at-breakfast kind of mid-life crisis,” says actress Tilda Cobham-Hervey of her home town. “I think what is really beautiful about Adelaide is that you really feel part of a community. Everyone really does know everyone.”
Cobham-Hervey is one of many creatives excelling amid a cultural boon that is occurring in South Australia. She stars, rather appropriately, in the new show F*!#ing Adelaide, a comedy about a group of siblings returning, reluctantly, home to Adelaide, which premieres at the Adelaide Film Festival this month. It is an amusing, progressive take on the mixed feelings many Adelaideans – this writer included – have towards their South Australian place of birth: one that was recently voted the fifth most liveable in the world. A place that enjoys exquisite landscapes of Kangaroo Island, the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale winery regions, the hideaway beaches that line the Fleurieu Peninsula coastline (Second Valley and Normanville among the best). A city famously designed in a grid formation; surrounded by parklands, and so perfectly planned you can drive for 30 minutes to stunning beaches in one direction and 30 minutes to picturesque hills in the other. And an arts community that thrives in theatre, film and television production, and plenty of festivals (hence its 1980s moniker ‘The Festival City’, which can still be found on the occasional number plate). While March is festival season in Adelaide, with simultaneous celebrations of world music, comedy, arts and literature, October is fast become the spring festival break: this month will see festivals of film, contemporary Indigenous art, architecture and design, and, of course, the Adelaide Fashion Festival, which includes the inaugural Vogue Festival.
Vogue fashion director Christine Centenera, who went to school in Adelaide, where her family still lives, says the city has a notable ease and “somewhat relaxed character” that makes it very attractive to creatives. “It is now evolving to bring about some definitive changes in creative inspiration,” she says.
For Adelaide designer and Young Australian of the Year 2017, Paul Vasileff, whose 10-year-old label will be celebrated with the exhibition Paolo Sebastian: X at the Art Gallery of South Australia this month, cultural diversity is what sets Adelaide apart from other capital cities.
“There are so many diverse cultural community groups here that band together to celebrate their heritage and invite the rest of the community to experience it,” he says. “Adelaide and Australia are both such a melting pot of cultures … Although we are a smaller city, we take a lot of pride in what we produce and when we do something, we do it incredibly well!”
While Sydney battles lock-out regulations, recently relaxed licensing laws have seen a flux of new bars and cafes popping up throughout Adelaide city, creating more intimate places for people to meet and collaborate, in turn encouraging local creatives and young businesses the opportunity to thrive and deliver new concepts. Food and wine has always been a popular attraction to South Australia – the wine regions bring in millions in tourism dollars – but the city is now equalling other capital cities with its culinary attractions: the Central Market, Peel Street district and Restaurant Orana (recently named Australia’s best restaurant of the year) are soaking up the culinary spotlight. Orana’s Jock Zonfrillo moved to Adelaide from Scotland via Sydney, enticed by the higher quality of life: cheaper housing prices, cleaner environment and abundance of fresh produce.
“I work in the Adelaide Hills and I am surrounded by beautiful vineyards when I look out the window. There are acres for the dogs to romp around in and then in a 20-minute drive I am standing in my kitchen in the city. Second to that is probably the quality of produce we get in South Australia, both from the ocean and from the land.”
When not in Hollywood, actress Teresa Palmer also lives in the Adelaide Hills, with her American husband and their three young children, because “the energy here is just beautifully laid-back and serene. I really feel the family vibe of Adelaide more than I do other cities, perhaps because the fabric of who we are as Adelaideans feels the same … We are a quiet city, we aren’t boastful, we have this understated beauty.”
Foreign minister Julie Bishop, whose fondest childhood memory is “running through our Adelaide Hills family orchard and eating fresh cherries straight from the tree”, highlights the fact that “Adelaide was settled as a model British colony by small ‘L’ liberal non-conformists who believed in freedom of speech, religion and lifestyle. This gave rise to a strong cultural heritage over generations.” She adds: “Adelaide has always been culturally progressive. It seems some are just starting to take notice!”
POPULAR FISHING AND SURF SPOT WAITPINGA BEACH.