Adelaide, South Australia was recently granted Australia ‘s highest heritage honor with its inclusion on the National Heritage List. Named after Queen Adelaide, the consort of King William IV, this enchanting coastal city situated on the eastern side of Gulf St. Vincent was founded by the controversial Colonel William Light as a “planned capital” in 1836 for the only freely settled British province in Australia. A leader in world-first reforms, Adelaide was shaped by religious freedom, civil liberties and political progressivism.
Today, Adelaide is the seat of South Australia ‘s government and the major commercial site of regional governmental and financial institutions. But before British settlement and “Light’s Vision,” as it was known, came along, Adelaide was mostly bushland, swamps and marshes. Its traditional owners and inhabitants were the now extinct Koruna aboriginal peoples whose already tiny population was decimated by an early 19th century smallpox epidemic. Adelaide was originally called “Tandanya” which translates as “place of the Red Kangaroo”.
Much of Adelaide ‘s original vegetation has been cleared but preserved in such nearby sanctuaries as Belair National Park and Cleland Conservation Park . Adelaide is easily accessible by bicycle to native bushland hiking in the Mount Lofty Ranges . Adelaide has a Mediterranean climate with most rainfall in the winter months of June through August and little to no snowfall.
Light’s Vision — which was originally very unpopular with not only early settlers by South Australia’s first Governor — set out Adelaide in a grid, interspaced by large public squares and wide boulevards all entirely surrounded by parkland. The benefits of Light’s Vision immediately became apparent commercially and aesthetically. Adelaide had easily navigable, wide multi-lane roads from its very beginning, along with a beautiful green ring around the city center. Also from its original design, there are two sets of “ring roads” within Adelaide , the inner ring route bordering parklands and the outer route completely bypassing the inner city. Where mostly bushland had been before, now a number of creeks and rivers flow through the Adelaide region. As the free settling, early European colonists and other diverse cultures began to arrive in 1836, Adelaide blossomed into a vibrant, European-style mecca that nearly two centuries later has become known throughout the world as an epicurean, artistic playground with eclectic cuisines, magnificent wines and an unparalleled arts and culture scene.
Today as a state capital, Adelaide is home to a great number of cultural institutions. But in the 1970s, after more puritanical restrictions on cultural activities all over Australia were finally being lifted, Adelaide began emerging in its own right as a capital of the arts. In these years the world-renowned Adelaide Festival of the Arts and the Fringe Festival were established. Along with “Tasting Australia,” a biennial food and wine celebration, Adelaide can also boast that is home to the Adelaide Christmas Pageant, the world’s largest Christmas parade, attracting crowds of over 400,000 and televised to millions more.