Meet Australia’s Coolest New Precinct
Does it get any better than art, antiques and amazing food?
We’ve teamed up with SA Tourism to explore and celebrate unique approaches to life and culture in South Australia.
Port Adelaide is an intriguing seaside suburb located only 20 minutes out of Adelaide’s CBD. Steeped in history and abounding in preserved 19th Century architecture, the Port’s popularity has soared in recent years, thanks largely to urban redevelopment organisations.
Projects like Renewal SA’s “Our Port” plan has revitalised the previously dormant area. St Jerome’s Laneway Festival now takes place annually against the backdrop of the historic Hart’s Mill. Wollongong’s celebrated street art festival Wonderwalls recently transformed the Port into an open-air gallery of awe-inspiring, large-scale murals. There’s still plenty more to come from their 20-year precinct plan.
From a thriving 1800s dockside, to a 20th Century ghost town (metaphorically and literally, but more on that later), and now a cultural magnet for visitors and locals alike, here’s our shipshape guide to Port Adelaide.
At the time of settlement, Port Adelaide was South Australia’s main portal to the rest of the world. The state’s supplies and information were sent and received from Queens Wharf, where an iconic red lighthouse still watches over Black Diamond Square.
The South Australian Maritime Museum on Lipson St will show you the ropes of Adelaide’s founding. Keep walking south down Lipson to the National Railway Museum and the South Australian Aviation Museum to tick off the triad.
If you like history with a bit more grit, take a Port Adelaide Ghost Crime tour. The two-hour walk-and-talk is lead by locals well versed in the Port’s macabre past. Visit haunted pubs, a former morgue, brothel and more, and you’ll learn why the 1800s wharf town was colloquially called “Port Misery”.
Plonked on the water’s edge at Queens Wharf are the Fishermen’s Wharf Markets. Stalls sprawl over two levels, overflowing with homewares, clothes, toys, books and bric-a-brac. Some antiques there may be as old as the Port itself!
Turning two pages at once, there’s also an on-site Bowen therapist and hairdresser. So if you’re in the market for vintage Transformers, holistic remedial massage and/or a fringe trim, this place is your one-stop-shop.
A hard day’s fossicking is bound to work up an appetite. Luckily there’s a plethora of food options close by. Try the accurately named Pancakes At The Port or go for trusty pub staples at the Port Dock Brewery Hotel. Be sure to order the beer paddle featuring five brews crafted on premises.
If you’re after something more nourishing, head to Red Lime Shack, Adelaide’s whole food haven. All meals are made from scratch with locally sourced ingredients, and there’s no shortage of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Their boutique coffee blend is the best in the area!
For a low-key snack on the go, scoff hot donuts and iced coffees from the Queens Wharf food trucks, while overlooking the glorious Port River. You may even catch a glimpse of a resident bottlenose dolphin.
Rollin’ on the River
Grab the Gwyneth to your Huey Lewis and take an afternoon cruise down the Port River on the Port Princess or Dolphin Explorer. Both boats board right next to the markets, and offer cruises of varying lengths and prices.
Take your pick of the different dining options available, or sample from the full bar facilities if that’s your speed. Enjoy a tropical daiquiri atop the sun deck and keep your eyes peeled for Ripple, Summer, Sparkle and the 30-odd dolphins who call the Port River home.
Adelaide is said to be the only place in the world where wild dolphins live in a major city. The Port River dolphin cruises provide a sustainable and responsible way to witness the animals’ unique behaviours like “tail walking”, while the dolphins get to live freely in their natural habitat.
In With the New
Inimitable theatre collective Vitalstatistix is based in the beautiful, heritage-listed Waterside Workers Hall. Vitals present original, multidisciplinary performances that are provocative and unique. Check out their 2015 program here.
Not-for-profit organisation Renew Adelaide has nurtured all sorts of creative enterprises in the Port’s vacant spaces for several years. Current ventures include bicycle sales, repairs and hire hive Honeybee Cycles, and bespoke perfumery One Seed. Swing by One Seed’s Scent Bar and blend your own 100% hand-crafted, natural perfume under the expert tutelage of owner Liz.
Porthole in the Wall
Special mention must go to Porthole Records, shining like a bright yellow beacon on the main drag, Commercial Road. A treasure trove of vinyl delights, Porthole is packed to the gills with records, CDs, tapes, posters and other paraphernalia, all in quality second-hand condition.
The impartial proprietor Rick prefers to keep his distance from customers but obliges an audiophile in need when approached. His prices range from the $1 bargain boxes to around $35 for more unusual finds. Collectable picture discs and rarities line the walls, and they fetch a higher, but still quite reasonable price.
Beware: Porthole is a cash-only situation, so come prepared. Rick also keeps malleable opening hours, supposedly Saturdays and Sundays from 11am ’til 4pm, but that seems to be in a constant state of flux. So stuff your wallet and cross your fingers, pop fans!
(Lead image: Honeybee Cycles – Renew Adelaide/Facebook)
The cool Port Adelaide precinct is just one thing the city has to offer. There’s also amazing food and wine regions and pristine beaches, not to mention it’s a gateway to the Barossa, Flinders Ranges, Outback South Australia and Kangaroo Island. For more info, click here.