Nothing beats a pleasant stroll in the Winter sunshine. The stroll is enough in itself, but when you have something interesting to look at, AND you learn something at the same time, more the better.
And a walk through the historic, wide Adelaide streets fits the bill nicely.
In a previous post (link), I waxed lyrical about the wonderful paths adjacent to Adelaide’s Torrens River. Well, they would have been more wonderful if I wasn’t forcing my protesting body to jog through the early morning dark, but each to his/her own.
If you prefer a slightly sedater pace, then pop into the Tourist Office in James Place, just off Rundle Mall, and collect a handful of walking maps and interpretative information brochures that will open up the Adelaide landscape and cityscape.
City of Great Buildings: Allow one hour, 1.6km in length.
This stroll takes you through the heart of the city and includes 16 buildings ranging in age from 1839 right up until 1963. You can imagine the large diversity in architectural style covered by this period.
Buildings include the Edwardian-style Stock Exchange, the Gothic-style Epworth Building, Adelaide’s first skyscraper – the MLC Building, and the state-of-art Reserve Bank building – designed in 1963.
I am no architecture expert, but I do find it interesting how styles and designs change depending on the tastes and ‘innovation’ of the time, and the availability of funds, of course.
The only challenges I find with city-based walking tours is that I spend so much time looking up, and rubber-necking about, that I often walk into poles and posts, or trip over randomly-placed street furniture. Note to self: Stop. Look about. Then read the map.
Rundle Mall – Above the Canopy: Allow 45-60 minutes, 0.6km in length. (I guess you have to allow time to be distracted by the shops too). Similar to the first walking tour, this path is all about architecture. Rundle Street was only closed off for pedestrians in 1976, becoming Australia’s first ever dedicated pedestrian mall. It is now a retail mecca, but this walking tour encourages you drag your eyes away from the sparkly shop fronts, and to look above the awnings and canopies to focus on the graceful, old facades that house all the shiny, new consumerism.
Again the architecture ranges in age from 1838-1953. The assortment of beautiful buildings, now converted into shops and offices, incorporated a number of theatres. The Regent Theatre, built in 1927, was described as ‘Australia’s most luxurious theatre’ and a ‘palace of art’ and housed marble staircases, grand portraits, rich tapestries and sculpture. How special would it have been to go to the movies back then? Much better than the bland, slick facilities of today.
Holy Sunday: 6.2km in total.
If religious artefacts and architecture are more to your liking, pick up the Holy Sunday map which maps out a route to 12 churches, mosques, chapels and cemeteries.
The information brochure suggests that you cycle this route (allow 1.5-2 hours) and free bikes are available to borrow. Obviously the same route can be completed on foot and may be safer, especially if you are goggling at buildings and riding a bike at the same time.
Kaurna Walking Trail: This trail recognises the local Kaurna people and the Kaurna land that Adelaide occupies. The Kaurna people are the traditional owners and custodians of the Adelaide Plains.
Similar to the other walking trails, this route moves you systematically around the city, but overlays the descriptions of the various sites with Aboriginal meaning and stories. Unsurprisingly, the walking trail focuses heavily on the Torrens River or Karrawirra pari, and the banks of the river, so important in past times for hunting and gathering food.
As well as guiding you through the natural beauty of the area, the path showcases numerous sculptures that commemorate and celebrate the Kaurna people. Situated adjacent to the Adelaide Festival Centre there is a Reconciliation Sculpture, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial Sculpture is located in the Torrens Parade Ground, and there are numerous other small and large artworks sprinkled along the route recognising the kangaroo dreaming.
A fascinating insight into the rich pre-white Australia history of the region.
If this is not enough exercise for you, you can also visit the Botanic Gardens, 50 acres of rose gardens, Wollemi pines, children’s gardens and stunning architecture.
Stroll along North Terrace to take in the Art Gallery of South Australia, Migration Museum, South Australian Museum, Elder Hall, and the State Library of South Australia – home of the gorgeous Mortlock Library – voted as one of the most beautiful libraries in the World.
It goes without saying that there are plenty of places along the way to consume and caffeinate to keep you energised. If your legs are tired, jump on the free tram to Victoria Square, just up from Adelaide Central Market. The Market is the perfect lunch location with everything from homemade pasta, seafood, fresh bread, artisan cheeses, fresh fruit and vegetables and gourmet chocolates.
Now that should put a spring in your step! Walk on!
Which cities do you think are the most walkable?
What: Pick up a range of city maps at the Tourist Office. Choose a tour that suits your special interests, energy levels and time availability.
Where: Throughout Adelaide CBD, adjacent to the Torrens River and beyond.
When: Perfect for any time of the year.
Why: To move slowly through a beautiful old city, absorbing the history and learning something at the same time.
How: If arriving in Adelaide by plane, catch the convenient and cheap Jet Express bus into the City Centre. The J1 or J1X service runs every 30 minutes and tickets cost from $3.40 one way.
Who: History buffs, architecture buffs, shopaholics and foodies.
Related Posts: For more historic walks with an American flavour, have a look at my post about exploring Washington DC on foot.
Related Blogs: For a really comprehensive insight into the history of all things Adelaide, have a look at http://www.adelaiderememberwhen.com.au/
Read About It: Some great Australian and early South Australian history, have a read of Lucy Treloar’s, Salt Creek. She describes the travails of a pioneering farming family and their fractious interactions with the traditional owners of the land. Available from Book Depository.