For as long as anyone can remember, Adelaide has been nicknamed ‘The City of Churches’. Though the catchphrase plays on one aspect of this genteel city, there is far more to the South Australian capital than church spires, cricket, and cucumber sandwiches. For one thing, unhurried Adelaide (with its obvious English leanings) houses both some wonderful museums, and residents who really know their wines.

Adelaide was settled by the British in 1836 and named in honour of Queen Adelaide, the wife of King William IV. From the start the city was planned, rather than allowed to grow haphazardly. The Surveyor-General of the colony of South Australia, Colonel William Light, was given the task of finding a site for the colony’s capital.The Torrens River meant a good water supply, and the fertile land on either bank was fertile and well drained. The river would separate the city of Adelaide itself from North Adelaide, while parkland would surround the settlements, and be created along the riverbanks.

Migrants were carefully screened before being allowed to sail for South Australia. Unlike elsewhere in Australia, where convicts made up a large percentage of the population, anyone with a criminal record was barred.Many of the British settlers decided to recreate old England, while others were keen to leave aspects of their former lives behind. Many were Presbyterians, Baptists, Congregationalists, Methodists and Unitarians, who suffered unfavourable conditions back home because their beliefs conflicted with those of the Church of England. The result was an unusual number of churches dotted around the city.

Adelaide sidles up to an inlet of the Southern Ocean, and onto some of Australia’s most important winery regions. It’s also terribly close to some of the most forbidding countryside in the world – namely the Nullarbor Plain and the Great Victorian Desert. Hence the high temperatures and dusty air you might encounter in summer.Generally though, Adelaide is a green and pleasant place, sporting plenty of parks, a delightful river, and a city centre laid-out in a grid with airy squares. The official town centre is Victoria Square, while the happening eat streets are Hindley Street, Gouger Street, and Rundle Street (the latter running into the shopping strip of Rundle Mall).

North Terrace, which is lined with galleries and museums and leads to the Botanic Gardens, borders the city to the north. Meanwhile, just north of the city heart, on the banks of the River Torrens, is the Riverside Precinct, the home of the Festival Centre and its performing arts.

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