Living and Working in Adelaide: a guide for overseas doctors. Part 2: The Fun Stuff

This mini-series provides some basic advice for overseas doctors interested in coming to work in, or just setting themselves up in, Adelaide. In this series:

  • The Basic Stuff: basic living requirements and getting around
  • The Fun Stuff: getting out and about, food and wine and travel
  • The Touring Stuff: travel and touring destinations for those days off
  • The Work Stuff: registration, workplaces and training programmes
  • The Admin Stuff: banking, visas, tax and health

Don't forget to checkout out current jobs on offer via the SA Health Careers website.

The Fun Stuff

Wine Tasting

This is the classic way to spend a South Australian day. It feels extremely strange the first time you rock up somewhere, they give you large amounts of free, high quality wine, and often good conversation, and then you wander off to the next place and do the same (it is easy to get used to though!). Some cellar doors do charge (taken off the price of anything you buy, and allows them to provide their high end wines for tasting), some provide a little snack, some are tiny and boutique, and some are huge and commercial (Jacobs Creek for example). However pretty much without fail they are run by friendly lovely people.

Going with a small group during the week usually gives you a nicer experience as there is more time to chat to the people who work there who are often very interesting. I would suggest picking 3 or 4 places at most for a day out—more than that, and you will end up very drunk with no idea what you are tasting. This is a very good introduction to the concept of quality v quantity, which was a foreign idea to me when I arrived! You can go on a group tour and pay for someone else to drive you which is more expensive, but means you can all drink, or you can choose someone to drink less and drive. There are also some areas you can stay overnight and cycle to wineries which is an awesome idea I feel.

The main winery regions you are likely to come across close to Adelaide are the Barossa, Mclaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills. Beware: after a couple of tasting days you will turn into an entirely unapologetic wine snob! The actual cellar doors are incredibly laid back and do not expect any waffling about blackberries on the nose or spitting out, but suddenly you will find yourself actually choosing wine for a reason other than the label looking pretty. Keep an open mind and try things you might not normally think to drink and you may be pleasantly surprised.

All of these regions have good winery maps or otherwise just drive around and take your pick. Your colleagues will have their favourites and will be happy to point you in a good direction if you don’t know where to start. You are obviously very welcome to buy wine at any of the wineries, but do not feel obliged!

The Adelaide Hills

The closest wineries in the Hills with cellar doors are only 20 minutes from the CBD, so these are good for a short day out or even a sneaky lunch. Even if you only want to go to a couple it is worth it. Hahndorf Hill does a combined chocolate and wine tasting, and Shaw and Smith provide local cheese with their tastings if you want something extra. There are also cheese places which do tastings in Woodside and Hahndorf  if you want something to line your stomach.

The Barossa Valley

The Barossa is a little further away—around 90 minutes from the CBD and is hotter and probably slightly busier than the other regions, as it is world famous. You will see lots of familiar names, but branch out to the little obscure ones too. With literally hundreds of wineries, ask one of your new colleagues what they recommend (and if they want to drive you there). Again there is a cheese place up here in Angaston and some other foodie establishments.

The McLaren Vale

Mclaren Vale is under an hour south of the CBD and can be combined with a beach trip. It again has some wonderful wineries and some nice eating places. It is convenient enough for a half-day tour. If you go on Saturdays, the markets at Willunga are worth a visit to stock up for the day.

Further afield

Further north is Clare valley (~2 hours) and to the south Coonawarra and the Limestone Coast (4 hours) and Kangaroo Island also has a number of wineries to choose from.


The beaches of Adelaide are pretty spectacular and often fairly empty. Most of them have a jetty which is handy for fishing for squid and jumping off when the tide is in (or sleeping under if it is a hot day out). Swimming is generally safe with small waves and a gentle sloping sea bed. Once you are in to summer on a hot day you can stay in the water until the sun goes down. On main beaches in the city and in the bigger coastal townships there is a surf life saving patrol who keep an eye out for you which makes it a bit safer (if you swim between the flags they mark out). Over metro water there is a very good shark spotting helicopter and plane on summer days. There ARE sharks around at times (most of which are too small to do much damage) and these are not failsafe! Be alert and sensible but don’t let that put you off getting wet. There will likely be others swimming out deeper than you.

The main metro beaches are (North to South):

  • Semaphore: a nice little suburb with a couple of good cafes and restaurants and a playpark and small fun fair by the beach so nice for kids.
  • Grange: a pretty quiet spot except at the height of summer with a jetty café and not a huge amount else so nice for some peace not too far from the action.
  • Henley: a little quieter than Glenelg (and dare I say it a bit more upmarket) but still very popular with families (especially now there are lots of water features for kids to splash around in). A good selection of really nice cafes and a couple of shops makes this one of the best meet ups spots.
  • Glenelg: one of the busier ones with lots of kids and teenagers because the tram ends here but still empty on a weekday afternoon outside school holidays. Lots of restaurants and cafes and things to do. Lots of international doctors choose to live in this area.
  • Brighton: not quite the Brighton you know! Another really nice suburb with some great cafes by the beach and a few cute shops. Busy during summer with a train line going close by.
  • Seacliff: a nice hotel here for drinks on the balcony watching the sunset and a good place to learn paddleboarding (see below)

Kayaking/Paddleboarding/Kite Surfing/Surfing

There are a few kayaking spots as well as obviously just launching yourself off the closest beach and pottering around. Probably the most popular arranged kayaking is on the Port River near Port Adelaide where you can paddle to the ship graveyard, through mangrove swamps and often with dolphins. The company here also hire out kayaks and trailers if you want to go further afield. The other popular spot is the Cooron. This is around 3 hours drive from Adelaide and can also be done as a tour from the city.

Paddleboarding is taking off in a big way in Adelaide and there is a nice guy in Seacliff who will give you a lesson and let you hire boards. Even I could do it so it can’t be too tricky and is a relaxing way to have a work out. Kite surfing is also popular and you can get lessons and hire kit.

Surfing is not big in Adelaide itself, as the waves are not great. If you head down on the south coast around Middleton it is popular and there are surf schools if you want to give it a go. This is only 60 minutes drive from Adelaide so easy for a day out. The Eyre Peninsula apparently has great surfing but also a lot of sharks so is possibly less attractive (and a long way out of town).


There are a fair number of dolphins around the metro waters and you might be lucky enough to see them from the jetties or the beach, and even more likely if you go out kayaking or paddleboarding. There are organised trips with Temptation Sailing from Glenelg which take you out dolphin watching for 3.5 hours and you can snorkel and see them in the sea too if you wish (they are very clear this is a NO touching experience- it is not like going to Sea World).


There is some spectacular hiking around Adelaide within reach for a day trip and I am finding new places all the time. Take LOTS of water, sunscreen, a hat (I know I sound like your mum) and a pressure immobilisation bandage in case of snake bite (yes, you will possibly see snakes. No, you are not likely to get bitten, but better safe than sorry and a bandage can save your life!).

Popular spots:

  • Mount Lofty: The classic Sunday morning “walk” is the Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty trail. This is a painful hour or so up a concrete path on a steep hill surrounded by hundreds of women in lycra (it is love it or hate it and as you can tell I am the latter!) and crazy people RUNNING up and down. It is a bit of an Adelaide institution with people challenging themselves to doing it daily/weekly/faste, but even during the week it is pretty busy and on a Sunday you are unlikely to get a park anywhere near the bottom. You can take the side "adventure" trail, which goes around the other side of the hill and is just as scenic and nowhere near as busy. Also you can drive to the top if you want to see the view without the pain…
  • Cleland: The area around Mount Lofty is a conservation park and there are a whole load of trails around here of varying lengths. There is a particular trail through Chambers Gully which tends to be a good koala spotting venue and all the trails are lovely. Especially during the week you can walk for hours and barely see a soul. There are a few maps around and it is worth exploring a few different trails.
  • Morialta: This is a little north of the Cleland/Mount Lofty complex but also easy to get to with a car/bus. There are a selection of trails from a 30 minute stroll for kids to the bottom of a waterfall up to a 3.5 hour “Grand Hike”. At the weekend it can get a bit busier, but during the week it is very peaceful. The start of the trails are hard going but they even out and make for a nice walk which makes you feel like you have earned your brunch.
  • Black Hill: A little further north again from Morialta and has a couple of trails of a similar sort with good views across the city.
  • Deep Creek: Around 90 minutes south of the city with some lovely trails ranging again from fairly easy to a bit more challenging. You can camp in some basic sites here too so can make it a weekend away. The coastal views are amazing
  • Belair: a national park about 20 minutes south of the city with some easier trails and loads of playground for kids and BBQ areas. A good place for family days out.


Cycling is BIG in Adelaide. You cannot go for more than a metre on a Sunday morning without seeing a pack of lycra clad folk speeding around (or sitting at a cafe) and there are lots of groups if you want to join in. The city is flat if you are starting off or otherwise there are trails up into the Hills for a challenge. If you want the best of both worlds the Amy Gillett track in the Hills is 16km each way and near flat with good scenery. There are some great bike shops (International Cycles will be extra friendly if they know you work in ED at the RAH/FMC) and you will have no trouble finding bikes ranging from old bashed second hand things to $10k+ road bikes in various places (think Gumtree if you are looking for the lower end stuff). For the less fit cycling to the beach and around the city is very easy with lots of trails and almost no hills.

The Tour Down Under arrives every January and you can watch the professionals tear around the hills (or if you are working, then you will meet them when they fall off) or join in with some sections. This is a city wide affair and there are street parties on various evenings before the stages start the next day to celebrate with food, wine and music.

Mountain Bikes

According to those that know there are some great trails around at Fox Creek, Eagle on the Hill and Craigburn Farm. You will need transport for them and again they will mainly be shut during total fire ban days. There is a company Escapegoat Adventures which pick you up from the city and take you to the top of Mount Lofty so you can cycle downhill from there and this is apparently a good day out. They also do tours elsewhere if you need to hire bikes and have no transport.


There are lots of options for indoor and outdoor swimming in Adelaide. The big indoor pools are Marion and the Adelaide Aquatic Centre in North Adelaid, with lap pools and more exciting things like diving boards and water slides. There are lots of quieter, smaller, local community ones dotted around. Outdoors the most popular are probably Unley and Burnside (both 50m pools), although there are a whole heap more in various suburbs. Be aware that lap swimming is taken very seriously in Australia—they are divided by swimming speed and you need to swim in a clockwise direction or you will not be popular! They usually have kids' areas and shared use areas in the main pool, so if you are not lap swimming then you can hang out there. Burnside is probably the most beautiful with a café, toddler pool, kids' pool and lots of lawns so you can sit in the shade under gum trees in between dips.

If you prefer open water you can swim with various clubs in West Lakes and in the sea. There are a few open water swim events including the Brighton Jetty Classic (Marilyn Monroe outfit optional).

Running and Triathlon

Running around Adelaide is great because there are lots of flat sections! Linear Park along the Torrens heads from the Hills to the sea for 35km each way, most of which is fairly flat which gives you a good start. Otherwise the Parklands around the city have some good trails or you can run along the coast to get sea views. If you are after trails then see the “Hiking” section for places to go.

There are multiple runs from 5k up to marathon length around the city throughout the year with the big one being the City to Bay which is as it says on the tin!

Lots of clubs around if you fancy giving triathlons a go with events ranging from “family” distances upwards. I am promised they are usually fairly relaxed and less daunting than they sound!

Sports and Fitness

The big sports in Adelaide are AFL (Aussie Rules football) and cricket (international matches are regularly held here). There are also baseball, netball and soccer games on a regular basis with some really good teams.

The RAH has a basketball team which play every Sunday and they are always looking for new players so get on the RAH ED facebook page if you want to join in. The QEH ED sports an indoor soccer team.

There is an 11 a side football team, which is very friendly sociable and trains on a Wednesday and plays at the weekend. There is also Adelaide Uni hockey who are again really nice—you will find lots of RAH folk here (despite them not being students!). Ask around the departments if you have a particular interest—there is bound to be someone else who will advise you!

If you are keen on the bendiness there are lots of yoga places around. Mint movement is great for pilates and yoga in a more chilled out way while Yogafusion (hot yoga) on the Parade and Bikram on Pulteney are for the hard core ones out there (Bikram is fairly strict, yogafusion a bit more relaxed).


Palace Nova in the city is about a minute's walk from the RAH. This is a friendly cinema with a massive variety of films from the big Hollywood stuff to subtitled Israeli pieces. They have film festivals and if you join their club you get a free ticket and cheap ones after that. They also serve wine which is clearly a bonus. If you are into your arty films this is your spot.

The big chains are Hoyts, Wallis and Event cinemas and the ones you are likely to come across are in Norwood and Marion. They are typical big screen places as you would find the world over and have lots of choice. Tickets are reasonably costly but you may be able to find deals (e.g. Telstra offer its customers cheap tickets).

Moonlight Cinema and the Openair cinema both offer outdoor cinemas during the summer. Moonlight is in the Botanic Garden just behind the Zoo in the city and the Openair is at Glenelg next to the beach. They are a nice way to spend a sociable evening as you can turn up a few hours before the cinema, have a picnic and a drink and chat and then watch the film once it gets dark. The Moonlight Cinema has more space for picnic blankets (and cheap tickets through Telstra) while the Openair has free Ben and Jerrys ice cream on a Sunday—take your pick! They tend to have some new stuff and some classics.


SA is known as the festival state and Adelaide really loves a festival—wine, cheese, Greek food, cabaret, guitars, writers, beer; whatever you like there will be a festival for it. The main festival season is in Feb/March when there is the Adelaide Festival with music and art and the even bigger Fringe festival (second biggest Fringe in the world, behind Edinburgh), which has 4 weeks of amazing comedy and spectacular shows. The Garden of Unearthly Delights is particularly convenient for work at the RAH, where you can go and lie around under a tree, drink wine, people watch and pick a comedy or cabaret show or two in one of the many tents. There is also the Royal Croquet Club in Victoria Square with more upmarket cocktails and dance music type stuff. The whole city comes out and it is a lot of fun.

During the festival season there is also WOMADelaide international music festival and Clipsal 500 (bogan V8 car racing at its best) so the city is crammed full of people and absolutely buzzing. Make sure you are around for at least part of this period!


This is not my area of expertise but I can promise you that Adelaide is not a Mecca for shopping sprees! If you need a clothes fix you may need to arrange a trip to Melbourne. There are a couple of big shopping malls at Marion and Tea Tree Plaza (and Harbour Town by the airport but that is a weird place), but I think mostly you will end up in the city on Rundle Mall which is a pedestrianised street, with most of the major shops either directly on it or in little arcades off it. Myer and David Jones are the big department stores, French Connection/Ted Baker/Country Road etc are higher end and then there are lots of cheap places like Target, Kmart, Cotton On, Dotti and Sportsgirl for the basics. Burnside Village touts some of the higher end stores as well. Be aware that underwear here (including sports bras) is not anywhere like good old M&S and swimwear is surprisingly limited in styles and very expensive.

Exploring Hahndorf and the Hills

Hahndorf is a cute and extremely kitsch township just off the freeway in the hills about 30 minutes drive from Adelaide or a single bus from the city. It has an interesting history as it was founded by Lutheran migrants from Germany and Poland and is worth a look around. There are lots of little bakeries and craft shops and you can feast on beer and sausages to your hearts content. It gets a bit crowded at the weekend and in summer but pick a quieter day and it is very pretty.

If you are missing the cold UK winters at any point then pop up to the Hills on a chilly July day and you will get your fix. It is a few degrees colder up there and can get frosts at times so can be very beautiful and this is where you will find log fires and those gorgeous mornings with mist over the fields.

Stirling is a nice little town at the top of the Freeway only 20 minutes from the city and is very popular as it has nice restaurants and cafes (ranging from fairly fancy to quirky little organic places) and is a bit of a gateway to the Hills. If you like chocolate Red Cacao is worth a visit for amazing treats. Just out of Stirling are the Mount Lofty botanic gardens which are really pretty. On the way up you can take a detour and look at the view from Mount Lofty if you didn’t get around to the hike up there yet!

A bit further out Lobethal has a brewery with some lovely beer and meals at the weekend—just check their website as opening times are limited.

Another place to see is The Cedars, home to Hans Heyson who was a very famous local artist. You can take a tour around his home and see his beautiful artwork.


This is where Adelaide and SA in general really shines! You can gorge yourself here on many yummy things. Obviously there are new places popping up all over the place and you will find many spots I have not mentioned but these make a starting point. There are too many amazing places to put them all in here! Note that SA does not give out free plastic shopping bags so get yourself some reusable ones and save the planet and some cash.

Central Market/Farmers Market

These are absolutely awesome places to stock up on your fruit and veggies! You will notice fresh produce prices vary hugely here depending on what is in season and the easiest way to tell what you should be buying right now is to get down to the Farmers Market at Wayville Showgrounds on a Sunday morning. Get down there for 9am when the doors open and bring your bags. It gets busy but it is very worth it (9am-12am). There are some places for breakfast down here too. Outdoors is for fruit and veggies, inside is for treats!

The Central Market is an Adelaide institution, a vast undercover market in the heart of the CBD. Open from Tue-Sat it is huge and has a heap of stalls with everything from fresh fruit and veggies to yoghurt to local cheese. The cheapest place to buy your produce in the city and a great experience. There are also cafes here, lots of Asian grocery stores and even a second hand bookshop to find some treasures in.

Rundle Street Area (near old RAH)

There are a whole heap of places here around Rundle and Ebeneezer Place with everything from an Afghan Deli to Italian breakfast places. You will rarely find a bad one!

Hindley Street Area

Hindley street is like a little bubble of bogan strip joints, and dodgy spray tans in an otherwise classy sort of a city. If you want pole dancing this is the spot. It does have some other bonuses (aside from the amazing people watching) however with late night shisha cafes, Apothecary for absinthe and upmarket cocktails and lots of little laneways off it with many VERY cool little bars to discover (Peel Street, Leigh Street and Gresham Street).


Gouger Street is the home of China Town, next to the Central Market and the place to go for Asian food particularly. If you are struggling to find somewhere open at 9pm on a Wednesday night in winter head here! It is also home to the infamous Mars Bar for LGBT clubbing.

King William

Lots of new very nice high end places here- Jamie’s Italian with 2KW and its spectacular roof top terrace at the North End, Electra House part way down and various others springing up. Dress up and get there early if you want to get in!

Not to be missed!

Nowhere does brunch like Australia and Argo on Norwood Parade is probably the best of them all. Don’t even try and get a seat on a weekend but during the week come and get your green smoothie and pick from the MASSIVE menu. Other good breakfast places are Grind It in Glenelg, Swedish Tarts in Henley and Dear Daisy in Forestville but there are literally hundreds of them littering the city with great food.

Vegan Specials

  • Not on everyone’s radar but these are the places!
  • Two Bit Villains in the city- your veggie and vegan junk food hit
  • Cherry Darlings- a vegan bakehouse for all your hangover needs (yes they are possibly the best doughnuts you will ever taste)
  • Argo and Dear Daisy are fab and good for bacon lovers and vegans alike
  • Mai Kitchen and Little NNQ are out in the suburbs but worth the trek for the huge vegan friendly menus along side the meat
  • Norwood, Frewville and Pasedena Foodlands are the best for vegan shopping in mainstream supermarkets.
  • There is a Facebook page for Adelaide Vegans which can get a little heated but is good for info.

Home Entertainment


Australian TV has a well-deserved reputation for being dire. It is often not worth bothering, and just going outside and enjoying the sunshine! There are a few options if you want something a bit better than free TV. ABC iView and SBS On Demand can be streamed on your computer, and ABC usually have a selection of BBC documentaries. Both have some decent Australian stuff and some interesting cultural programs.

Netflix is now in Australia with a limited number of programs. It is quite cheap and worth considering for drama series/films etc. Apparently there is something involving technology beyond me which allows you to access the US version which has more available.

Foxtel is pricy but will give you access to Sky type programs: sport, films, documentaries, dramas, series etc. If you need a lot of sport this is probably your best option


Probably similar to the UK but at a higher cost. You can get a mobile dongle or wifi at home. Internet here is much slower than you will be used to, but home internet will be fine for streaming programs, etc most of the time. Telstra is the most widely available but the most expensive. If you don't need a landline, then the Naked ADSL packages let you get broadband alone.


Books are VERY expensive new here so you may need to be creative. There are plenty of very good libraries and second hand bookshops (e.g. Oxfam on Hutt Street), and some stores will have bargain areas. Be prepared though and don’t be shocked by the fact you might be looking at $25 easily for a normal fiction book! Obviously you also have the option of Ipad/Kindle or Amazon and the Book Depository among other deliver reasonably cheaply.  Booko compiles book prices from a vast array of online sellers and you can easily find which one offers the cheapest price delivered to your door.


Well, now you've got a handle of the Basics, and are well on your way to exploring all the Fun Stuff to do in Adelaide, maybe it's time to go Touring a little further afield?

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