You can get to there quickly and it’s worth it. Try March to April if you really want to hit the scene and soak it up.
But there’s still loads to do and much to see after that.
There’s a feast of festivals and every imaginable event to enjoy, you just have to choose a scene, book a flight and get there.
This epicentre is Adelaide - just 1.5 hours from Sydney, 1.2 from Melbourne, 3.1 from Perth, 2.4 from Brisbane and 3.6 from Darwin.
Each year around now there’s the Fringe Festival, Adelaide Festival, WOMAdelaide, Writers’ Week, Dream Big Children’s Festival and sundry exhibitions because everyone’s in town.
South Australia Art Gallery just opened a Ben Quilty exhibition and that runs well into June - his extraordinary, huge works with a social justice statement, hang impressively along the corridors of Adelaide’s exciting gallery space.
For those who love cars, fumes and speed there’s the Superlook Adelaide 500 – that scoops up the rev heads for the nation’s premier motor sport series.
So what’s so hot about Adelaide? It’s the convergence of entertainment and stimulation of all varieties for all ages and it’s all so accessible.
The Fringe runs for a month well into to March; it’s a big party of sound, dance and entertainment, run in small and large venues, on street corners, in laneways, malls, bars, basements and theatres.
Attracting a young set, there’s everything from comedy to cabaret, from burlesque to circus, from dance to physical theatre, from fantasy to film and from the interactive to still edgy exhibitions.
The Adelaide Festival is hosted in more traditional venues but it’s up there - exciting. Running from March 1 to 17, it programs selected works that the 2019 art directors describe as “the culmination of a search for the greatest works of the world”.
Those that made the final cut are pure brilliance - plays that are premiered in Australia before their released to the world such as Counting and Cracking; game-changing opera with handcrafted animation The Magic Flute; hilarious masterpieces from Argentina Un Poyo Roji; extraordinary physical theatre such as Out of Chaos; and Tim Minchin’s own music performance Back.
WOMAdelaide is another award-winning event, it features performers, musicians, artists, dancers and thinkers from around the world.
It’s a significant international event with a big following. Tickets are booked early and audiences return year after year.
Adelaide has a good range of hotels and accommodation to choose from; there’s so much in town, you’ll probably want to walk from venue to venue or simply amble in the buzz of the city. It’s hard to pass by the city’s iconic architecture in the middle of town that offers grand, hotel accommodation or delightful boutique experiences.
Around the restaurants of the CBD, you’ll find the deco boutique Mayfair Hotel, or The Playford, or for a more modern look, the Holiday Inn Express. If you like the convenience of an apartment in that vicinity, there’s the Adina and many others.
If you’re dropping into Adelaide wanting a quiet, more leisurely experience, visit the three stately sandstone buildings from the 1800s, that form the cultural boulevard in the parklands precinct.
They are the SA Museum that houses world class natural history and cultural collections, the State Library of Adelaide - Potteresque in every way - and the innovative and exciting AGSA which is also a visual arts museum and has significant visiting exhibitions.
A visit to this city wouldn’t be complete without breakfast at the Adelaide Central Markets, established 150 years ago. It connects the city with the state’s farmlands and sells all varieties of local produce.
Now a hub for organic and international foods, flavours and barista coffee, you can sample the produce or just sit with a latte while watching the vendors, market spruikers and passers-by.
Haigh’s Chocolates is located on historic Beehive Corner, Rundle Mall Adelaide, and is certainly worth a tasty visit. The oldest family-owned chocolate maker in Australia, the Haigh family started production of their famous fruit centred chocolates 1915 and now produce a diverse range of exquisite chocolate experiences.
For the inquisitive chocoholic there are free short factory tours where you can check out how they make their mouth-watering products.
What else is hot about Adelaide? Well early March there’s definitely plenty of dry heat - just enough to gather a thirst and drive for 20 minutes north to the vineyards in the Adelaide Hills.
There you’ll find are over 60 wineries where you can sample the best in this area. My favourite is Shaw and Smith; their Sauvignon Blanc is simply delicious. But there’s great tasting to be had at Hahndorf Hill and The Lane then there are craft breweries with friendly beer gardens such as Lobethal Bierhaus and Prancing Pony Brewery.
More time on your hands? Go further for a day trip to the beautiful Clare Valley, you’ll never regret it. There you’ll find another of my favourites, Pikes, you can sip their hand-crafted wines at the Cellar Door with a platter of local produce in a truly beautiful setting.
A little up the road there’s the magnificent Barossa Valley for cellar door tastings from big name wineries such as St Hugo, Henschke, Steinborner & Reynolds, known for their full fabulous flavoured wines. Try a Shiraz or Cabernet with a picnic lunch or maybe it’s easier to just drop into one of the fine food restaurants along the way.
Want another reason to visit SA? This year the Barossa Valley Festival runs from 24 to 28 April and is known for its showcasing of fabulous food, wines, heritage and the arts.
Or try the Clare Valley Gourmet Weekend 17 to 20 May this year; join in the end of vintage celebrations and enjoy the region’s signature premium food and wines.
It’s all so easy, so close, so accessible – book a flight now or plan for next year’s festivals and events.
About the writer
Bronwyn Ridgway is a journalist and mother of two. Her writing in the areas of travel, education, health and industrial relations, has been published extensively in newspapers and magazines in Australia and the Asia Pacific.
Currently based in Sydney, she lived in the Hunter for 10 years where she was active in the community both in the women’s movement and promotion of Heritage Month, heritage houses and significant regional events.