For pretty much the whole four weeks I was in Adelaide during the spring I was job hunting. In between, I explored Adelaide on a shoestring. There are lots of great, free or cheap things to do.
I’ve already mentioned the parks, cycling / walking trails (the whole city is great for cycling actually – pretty flat!), you can get a day ticket for the public transport system for $9.10 and travel all day to explore all the different corners of the city if you fancy it!
All the State institutions are free to access (although donations are always welcome of course) e.g. gallery, museum including the migration museum, library, botanic gardens. There are plenty of self-guided walking trails you can follow, including the East End of town and the West Terrace Cemetery.
– By the way, I do love the names of the streets in Adelaide! Bordering the CBD you have North Terrace, West Terrace, South Terrace, and East Terrace. Heading out from the CBD through the suburbs you will find Main North Road, North East Road, South Road and South East Freeway. Hard to get lost! 🙂 –
So, the verdict on Adelaide’s free / cheap attractions? Pretty great! Here were the highlights for me:
Guided tours of state institutions – without exception, these were excellent! I did the Botanic Garden, the State Library, the Art Gallery and the Museum. All free, all led by enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteers who got the balance just right between sharing interesting information and providing entertaining stories for a varied group. Fantastic! And the buildings themselves I just loved. It was like being back in England, they were such grand amazing spaces – particularly the older parts of the State Library and the Art Gallery.
West Terrace Cemetery – a walking trail leaflet and signage has been developed to guide visitors along a number of different trails through the cemetery. I reckon this is a great initiative, despite my initial reaction of it being just a little weird and macabre. As it turned out, it was a great way to learn about some fascinating people in Adelaide’s past – and even some figures of international note eg Percy Grainger.
I think what captivated me most were the stories of some extraordinarily active, influential and inspiring women, whom I might not have learned about any other way. For example, Augusta Zadow, a tailoress who worked tirelessly to promote fair working conditions for women, and was appointed the Colony of South Australia’s first Inspector of Factories in 1895.
The war cemetery was also incredibly moving – I always find that to be the case with their uniform rows of identical markers; all ranks reduced to the same level on giving the ultimate sacrifice. A great place to sit and reflect…
Carrick Hill House – this is a historic home and estate in a south eastern suburb of Adelaide, which I cycled to one day for an outing and break from job hunting. I enjoyed a guided tour of the home and finding out about the couple that built it in the late 1930’s. Edward Hayward and Ursula Barr Smith married in 1935, bringing together two of the wealthier and more prominent families in Adelaide at that time.
On their year-long European honeymoon, they acquired 18th 19th and 20th century paneling, doors, staircases and windows from the demolition sale of a Tudor mansion in Staffordshire, England – and Carrick Hill House was built around these features. After Edward returned from active duty in World War II they lived a life of privilege in their beautiful home – collecting art, developing beautiful gardens and entertaining in style. They had no children so bequeathed the house to the State, and it was officially opened to the public by the Queen in 1986 – fitting considering that much of the building came from her own homeland I guess!
It was such an insight to another world! One that the majority of us will never have a chance to experience; however it is great that it is made available to the public now to visit. Fortunately for me, considering my lack of funds at the time, the normal entry price was reduced because the house was undergoing some renovation works and a change of exhibition in the gallery, meaning that many rooms normally available were shut off. At only $6 for entry therefore it was certainly a good value-for-money day out! (and a nice nostalgia trip for me – it was like being back in England at a gorgeous National Trust or English Heritage property).
I particularly enjoyed the children’s story book trail, which I stumbled upon by happy accident. Seeing this little building, how could I not think of The Hobbit, which I read in high school?
And in consulting the leaflet I’d received on entering, sure enough I found it was in fact Bilbo Baggins’ house. On through the trail, which has been developed recently but focuses primarily on children’s stories that would have been around in Edward and Lady Hayward’s days, I found other highlights including Mowgli’s camp from the Jungle Book, a representation of the Magic Faraway Tree, The Troll Bridge from the Billy Goats Gruff story, Ratty’s boat from the Wind in the Willows sitting alongside a pond and even a nod to the Harry Potter series. A beautiful and engaging touch to the estate, for kids of all ages!
The one thing I found disappointing about Carrick Hill was that if I had missed the guided tour (they only do two a day) the significance of many of the art works and features of the house would have been lost to me. The tour was pretty good by the way. I was really surprised though that they didn’t have even a basic interpretive guide to the house interior, and on asking a staff member about this she said they were working on it but it was all down to lack of resources.
Really? So the SA Government has had the place for 25+ years but can’t even produce a simple leaflet outlining key features of the property and collection, like The National Trust do for all their properties? Extraordinary!