Adelaide: right at home in Australia's 'invisible' city

He also supported multiculturalism, gay rights and justice for Aborigines long before the rest of the country embraced such liberal causes. Except in relation to wine-tasting in the Barossa, koala-spotting on Kangaroo Island or cricket-watching at the Adelaide Oval, South Australia rarely disturbs the national psyche although the gruesome murder of 11 people in the bush settlement of Snowtown (the so-called "Bodies in Barrels" case) in the Nineties did create a momentary frisson of excitement around the nation. Even the annual Adelaide Festival of Arts, a showcase of the finest theatre, music and dance from around the planet, fails to generate much interest among the well-heeled citizens of Sydney or Melbourne. For them, Adelaide joins Tehran, Dhaka and Port Moresby as one of the least desirable cities to visit even New Zealand is preferable. For most Australians, Adelaide might as well have swallowed an invisibility pill. "They call Adelaide the Athens of the South," Dame Edna Everage, a devoted Melburnian, once quipped. "Strange that Athens never refers to itself as the Adelaide of the North." When a new transcontinental railway the Ghan was completed from Darwin to Adelaide in 2004 a newspaper headline read: "The railway from nowhere to nowhere." Personally, I'm rather pleased that the rest of Australia looks down on South Australia. It means that the place is not overrun by the ill-mannered oiks who now crowd Sydney's beaches, shopping malls and cinemas. Like all great provincial cities, Adelaide has managed to retain both an excellent quality of life and a keen sense of community. It's the sort of place where strangers still say good morning to each other and neighbours become good friends. A few days after I moved into my new house a delightful 1860s stone cottage one of my neighbours, Lyn, stopped for a chat. "Welcome to Wall Street," she said. "I notice that you're a cyclist we have a local cycle club that goes out every weekend. Why don't you join us?" In all my years in London and Sydney I'd never received such an invitation. While Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane are desperate to reinvent themselves as thrusting modern, international cities in the mould of Singapore, Adelaide retains an air of Victorian propriety and that rare quality a taste for modesty. "Adelaide's really just a country town," one local told me. "Things are pretty slow here. This particular was created from

Adelaide: right at home in Australia's 'invisible' city