Sisters out on the champagne trail

Regattas on the TorrensI think it’s a sister thing, the sort of thing you only get with someone you grew up with and know well. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been, when you do see each other you pick up again from where you left off last time.

And for me and my sister, that’s with champagne, or sparkling wine at least.

So it’s just as well we were in Adelaide.

Henley beachNow Adelaide may or may not be the food and wine capital of Australia – I’ll let others argue about that – but it’s definitely not the beach capital of Australia.

Adelaide is on the ocean in the Great Australian Bight and it has beaches all down it’s west coast, but it’s very well protected by the Yorke Peninsular to the west and the Fleurieu Peninsular to the south. Then right at the mouth of the ‘bay’ is Kangaroo Island. All this means that there is absolutely no surf in Adelaide (well, not what any of the rest of us would call surf, anyway). If you want to experience a typical Australian beach, do not go to Adelaide. You can head south to Goolwa or beyond, but then you’re in Great White territory. Your choice.

But even without the beaches Adelaide was recently voted as Australia’s most liveable city. And it’s easy to see why.

Leigh Street barSummer weather in Adelaide is generally beautiful – long, hot days and warm nights. Perfect for sitting outside at a cafe, bar or restaurant. And there are many of them, in ‘food streets’, small laneways (it’s not only Melbourne that does laneways), or overlooking the beach or the River Torrens.  For some reason Sydney, with its many beautiful waterways – beaches, Sydney Harbour, rivers and bays, still doesn’t door outdoor eating and drinking very well.

We tried out a few outdoor bars, though it’s a shame we didn’t have the typical summer weather.

It was drizzling rain, not enough to be spectacularly stormy, but enough to make the light really bad for photos. But it was still warm, so good enough to walk around for a champagne bar crawl, or more accurately, a South Australian sparkling white wine crawl.

La Luna goats cheeseWe started with breakfast at Henley, right by the beach with a cleanskins bubbly from the Adelaide Hills, then moved on to the Central Market to test out some fresh produce, including fabulous cheeses. We couldn’t resist the Holy Goat La Luna Ring goats cheese, but at $130/kilo we only got a very small taste. It was beautiful.

Sandpit Victoria SquareFrom there it was a stroll to Victoria Square to play in the sandpit and the fountain. Yes, it only took 2 glasses of champagne before we were playing like kids in the park. Why they have a sandpit in the park I’m not really sure, there’s no other kids play equipment there. Perhaps it really is, like the locals say, just a big kitty litter box, but I didn’t see any signs.

From there it was only a short walk to Gouger Street, which is a restaurant hub, but with the benefit of local knowledge we decided to go in the opposite direction and meander our way down to the Torrens, via the Criterion Hotel and another Adelaide Hills bubbly, the Apothecary (closed), Leigh Street (mostly closed), and Currie Street. While there were plenty of restaurants open for lunch we were looking for small bars where we could have a drink and maybe something small to nibble on, and a lot of those didn’t open until later in the afternoon.

Fountain Victoria SquareBut Regattas at the Festival Centre was open, so we sat on the verandah drinking champagne while we sheltered from the drizzle under one of the umbrellas and cheered on the dragon boats racing on the river. While everybody else inside the bar probably thought we were insane we had a great time and discovered those umbrellas really are big enough to keep the rain off, as long as it’s coming straight down and not at an angle. Lucky there was no wind.

Fountain at nightFrom there we headed back up to the Duke (of York, I think) in Currie Street, which used to be my local when I lived in Adelaide many years ago. It hasn’t changed. Then it was down to Little Miss Mexico on Rundle Street – via a spot of jewellery shopping in Rundle Mall.

After all that it was quiet a hike back to the car which was parked at the Central Market. Luckily my niece came and met us when she finished work and she drove home while my sister and I sat in the back singing along to the Seekers.

It really is a sister thing!


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