The city of Adelaide has become one of Australia’s most vibrant, diverse, and cultured epicentres.
Much to the dismay of some people in the Eastern states, our current stream of tourism has enabled the backwater branding of our city to wash away.
And it’s time to open the floodgates.
Unless you’ve been living under a lime-stone rock, it’s clear that our city has changed shape considerably in recent years.
Some will say it’s the footbridge. Others will thank the redevelopment of our sporting identity; Adelaide Oval. For those with a shorter memory, it might be the medical masterpieces that have taken residence on North Terrace.
The walk of fame from Government House to the Botanic Gardens is more than a walk down Memory Lane for those more learned and experienced city-siders. But for me, it’s all of that. And more.
It is the blend of old and new; traditional and contemporary; historic and cultural that puts Adelaide in the upper-echelon of urban epicentres.
A few weeks ago on a balmy Friday night, I was standing atop the old State Bank Building on the corner of King-William Rd. and North Tce. The bar was 2KW and it sits above one of Adelaide’s contemporary and cultured restaurants, Jamie’s Italian – a prime piece of Real-Estate that occupies a position of significant toe and tyre traffic in the top end of town.
As I was sipping on my imported lager, I was taking in the breath-taking city lights and contrasting buildings synonymous to our city-scape. Fair to say, I was humbled. But I couldn’t help but smile at the irony of the situation I was in.
Our forebears forged this city originally by flattening out the lands and putting their blood, sweat and tears into building infrastructure and creating a sustainable economy. They would invest every penny they made into the locked vaults of the bank below. One vault still sits haughtily in the lavatory of the restaurant. And here I was, investing my hard-earned on food, beer and views. But I like to think my feeling of pride emulated that of my great-great grandparents who’d set foot in this same building over 100 years ago to handover their money.
This is a city that has something for everyone.
Adelaide is more than holding-its own according after our tourism numbers peaked in 2016.
According to the South Australian Tourism Commission’s most recent domestic tourism statistics, there were 13.6 million day trips to and within South Australia, up 3.8 per cent and ahead of the national growth rate of 1.9 per cent.
This indicates that more South Australians are willing to engage with what our vibrant city has to offer.
In fact, after our inclusion in ‘Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Places to Visit’ a few years back, little old Adelaide should feel superior to her older and more gregarious sister-cities on the Eastern seaboard.
The ‘Planet’ praised Adelaide for “loosening its pious shackles and embracing its liberal foundations”.
The key to creating a vibrant and attractive city is not to inflict radical change but to embrace the identity of its story while appropriating it for a contemporary society.
Despite these flattering statistics that most certainly are a reward for effort, South Australia is reeling as the most unemployed state on the mainland with a dwindling economy.
We must concede that our salient focus on blending bricks with mortar and our obsession with buying cars that have manuals written Japanese or German has had a detrimental effect on our bottom-line.
Further to that, most of the jobs that have been created over the past five years have been within the public-sector which doesn’t generate anywhere near as much revenue as privatised employment.
But we cannot let this take anything away from the fact that our city is now on the world stage.
We have stepped into the 21st century without selling our soul for a cost-of-living allowance.
We have maintained our heritage; the church bells still ring and the congregations still rise, but they rise to world-class sporting and cultural events.
We can’t afford to spend as much money as our Eastern and Western relatives, but at least we don’t pay an arm and a leg for superlative cuisine that is synonymous to our city.
Backwater no more.
As I finished my imported lager, I nodded my head in gratitude for what our city has to offer. I think I’ll try the local brew next.