Saturday, December 01, 2007

DAY 55: Day 1 off Adelaide / around the city

Thurs 29th Nov 07
Sunny, hot, 30+C

After a lie-in and breakfast with Grace I headed off on foot to explore the Adelaide. it was already pretty hot by 0900 and I got a bus for the 3km or so into the city centre.

First stop was the Botanical gardens and in fact I spent the bulk of the day in there - there’s a lot to see. I took the 90 minute free guided tour, which was much more informative than wandering around trying to read all the interpretive signs. The guide, Rosemary, really knew her stuff and not only identified lots of trees and birds but related some interesting snippets of history about the gardens, which are among the oldest in Australia. She took great care to keep us in the shade as much as possible and out of the searing heat - not too difficult with huge trees everywhere. Birds were more thick on the ground than ever in this city avian heaven - one I hadn’t seen before was the Eastern Rosella, and there were a great number of very tame crested pigeons, Pacific Black ducks, and Noisy Miners. The latter must be one of the commonest birds in Oz as I have seen them everywhere between Perth and here - they are the birds that make a terrific screeching noise when you approach the bush trees and shrubs that they inhabit.

Some of the greenhouses were just too hot to linger in - unbearable - but the botanical museum was air conditioned and after the tour I lingered in there a while and watched a video. I then went off to the scavenging bird-strewn outdoor cafe for lunch - a lovely fresh crusty beef and salad roll - mmmmmm! And of course the usual FU Iced Coffee. It was pleasant to just linger a good while doing nothing other than watch people pass by, no urgency at all today to get anywhere.

The Gardens are well-placed relative to several other places of interest including the Adelaide Museum, Art gallery, Library and Aboriginal Centre. I visited the latter first and was impressed by the artwork on display - some typical and well-crafted aboriginal paintings using dots, and some less typical woolen and cloth exhibits. I had a chat with the artist-in-residence who initially has funding for 6 months in the post, producing artwork for possible future display and other duties. We discussed the possible analogy between the archetypal Aboriginal patterns and those of the Scottish tartan, which might be seen as variations on the same artistic theme. Some of the paintings seemed quite cheap and I would loved to have taken a couple home, but it’s not really possible the way things are.

I next ventured into the art gallery, and again being air-conditioned it was very cool and pleasant to stroll around. The place is huge, it seemed to go on for ever, and there’s a wide mix of European, rest of the world and Australian work. I could have spent much longer in there if I had the time, but I wanted to check e-mails etc. so headed next door to the library. Unfortunately I only had half an hour which was hardly enough, so I couldn’t upload to the blog. There seems to be so much to do and answer to when I get to log on I hardly ever get done in less that an hour.

After early dinner with Grace and Sue we drove over to some friends of theirs for the evening. The object was to play a game called the Phoenicians (I think) whereby you trade commodities with neighbouring countries and try to become wealthy - a little like Monopoly but much more complicated. I finally ‘kind of’ got the hang of it and quite enjoyed the evening.

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