Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Downtown Adelaide

The cyclists may have had a day off, but there was no rest for us and we hit the town in wilting heat to do some serious sightseeing. We began with coffee in the Adelaide Arcade in Rundle Mall.

Rundle Mall is the premiere retail area of South Australia and was Australia's first pedestrian street mall. The Italiante styled Adelaide Arcade was the first retail establishment in Australia with electric lighting and is apparently home to six ghosts. We didn't meet any of them.

Adelaide Arcade
The Spheres by Bert Flugelman is locally known as The Malls' Balls
The Rundle Mall Fountain
Another sculpture in the mall is a series of bronze pigs, by Marguerite Derricourt, officially known as A Day Out. They were commissioned by the Adelaide City Council to much controversy, as is always the case with public artwork, and a competition was held to name the pigs.

Truffles and Horatio


Girl on a slide by John S Dowie
Walking along Rundle and Hindley Streets, I looked up at the awnings and shop frontages, which I always like to admire. According to the Lonely Planet, Rundle Street 'has many of the city's funkiest bars, cafes and bookshops. Here you'll find the best in al fresco dining, retro clothing and haute grunge'.

Meanwhile, Hindley Street is apparently, 'Adelaide's West End, where strip clubs rub shoulders with university buildings and specialist bookshops. There are plenty of inexpensive restaurants and snack bars here, plus a number of glitzy bars and dance clubs.'

We found massage parlours, adult book shops, tattoo parlours, fashion boutiques, and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. A pub called The Woolshed claimed to be 'the country pub in the city.' This translated as a booze barn with crap fizzy beer, a mechanical bull, and pictures of women wearing bikinis, stetsons and cowboy boots. We moved on.

The eastern end of Rundle Street was the site of Adelaide's original fruit and vegetable wholesale markets. These closed in the 1980s and, after a long and controversial decision-making process involving some government money, the Garden East (or East End Astoria) apartment development was built. This was the start of a growing number of prestige apartment buildings in the area.

Karen Genoff's sculpture The Apron, pays tribute to the market traders. I also like the rules of commerce posted about the Inspector's Office, among them the fines for selling underweight goods, tying horses to the market without permission, wilfully or carelessly damaging any of the market erections, or leaving offal lying about. So mother was right - you will catch your death if you expose your kidneys!

The Apron by Karen Genoff
Cafe ride

North Terrace features a string of magnificent public buildings including the art gallery, museum, state library and the University of Adelaide.This was founded in 1874 from the profits of copper mining and was the first university in Australia to admit women to degree courses.

Within the University grounds, a bronze statue by A Drury commemorates Sir Thomas Elder (1817-1897) who migrated to Adelaide from Kirkcaldy, Scotland, in 1854.  He was a pastoralist, highly successful businessman, philanthropist, politician, race-horse owner and breeder, and public figure. Amongst many other things, he is notable for introducing camels to Australia, contributing them to both Wharburton's 1873 expedition and Giles's in 1875.

The Art Gallery of South Australia received a bequest of £25,000 from him, and he also gave gifts, endowment funds and bequests to the University of Adelaide totalling around £100,000. A statue on the grass seems a small price to pay.

Statue of Sir Thomas Elder by A Dury

Bonython Hall is the 'great hall' of Adelaide University. It was built between 1933 and 1936 with a grant of over £50,000 from Sir Joseph Bonython. There are a couple of rumours about this hall, which are quite interesting. It is opposite Pulteney Street, the only one of the city's north-south thoroughfares which does not continue north through the parklands.

Folklore has it that the Bonython donation was made on the condition that a hall be built opposite Pulteney Street, thus blocking any future path through the parklands and preventing the division of the campus by a major thoroughfare. Folklore also maintains that the Bonython family were very conservative and did not want the building used as a dance hall. Hence, the hall was designed and built with a sloping floor rather than a flat floor.

Bonython Hall, University of Adelaide
Marble statue of Robert Burns by WJ Maxwell
The National War Memorial of South Australia commemorates those who served in the First World War, and is effectively an archway, featuring two scenes by Rayner Hoff. The marble reliefs and bronze statues depict both the prelude and epiloge to the war; the willingness of youth to answer the call of duty and the sacrifices they made.

The work does not display a material victory but the victory of the spirit. The interior is lined with the names of all the South Australians who died in the war. It's very moving and powerful.

The National War Memorial of South Australia
We popped down to Victoria Square, also known to the indigenous Kaurna people as Tarndanya (Red Kangaroo Dreaming), where they used to gather for special ceremonies and dances.

The square is usually dominated by the Victoria Square Fountain, built to commemorate the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in 1968. Sculpted by John S Dowie, its theme is based on the three rivers from which Adelaide draws its water supply - Murray; Onkaparinga; and Torrens.

Three Rivers fountain in Victoria Square

For the next week, however, the Tour Down Under Bike Expo has taken over. There are stalls of everything to do with bikes: clothing; monitoring equipment; tyres; brakes; gears; chains; and of course bikes - lots of lovely carbon fibre and titanium. We drooled at all the beautiful two-wheeled porn, and then had to go home for a lie down.

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