Adelaide: The City That Actually Works

A recent survey published in The Austrailian newspaper says that Adeladians enjoy the best planned and functional city in Australia.

And after spending a few days here, I think they might be onto something.

Sure, there are strip clubs and liquor stores and betting shops (called Pokies) and a few panhandlers, but there are also high-end fashion stores, a substantial BMW dealership (cars, not motorcycles, dagnabbit), an art gallery, a zoo, a museum, a golf course, good-sized parks and gardens.

One section of downtown, called Rundle Mall, is closed to vehicles. And midday on a weekday, it’s BUSY. People spending money, music playing, buskers doing their thing, it’s very lively.

Busy place early Thursday afternoon

Yesterday there was a school choir of about 10 or 12 kids, all dressed up, singing xmas carols.

One can also ride the downtown tram free, from South Terrace to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre; that encompasses the major shopping areas and the major festival area.

Find yourself an overhead map or photo of the Adelaide central business district and you can see what I mean.

You’ll see what the city planners have done, and more important, been successful at.

The central business district is bisected; one half north of River Torrens and one half south. And surrounding both of them is a substantial greenbelt.

Maintaining the greenbelt has concentrated the downtown core into a finite space. This keeps the area busy. Doesn’t matter if you’re off to the drug store (or chemist, as they say here) to get kleenex , or off to spend a thousand bucks for a dress and shoes or off to buy a new BMW. Just that activity gives the downtown life and energy.

Undoubtedly there are problems. It’s not utopia. But it does show you that a properly managed downtown core can add to the livability of the city.

At least Adelaidians think so, and since they’re the ones who live here, their voices matter most.


A travel day tomorrow, to the far West of Australia, Perth. I’ll be back in a couple of days!


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