Eight great things in Adelaide that most visitors miss

Can't find anything in Adelaide worth doing? That's because you're not looking hard enough.

The Adelaide Oval scoreboard

If you don't immediately love the Adelaide Oval's gloriously out-of-time scoreboard, you're probably an android. There's no electronic gimmickry on the 104-year-old standard bearer for the redeveloped Oval – just letters and numbers painted onto wood and carefully slotted into place.

What most people don't realise is that it is possible to go inside the scoreboard for an insight into how it all works. The stadium tours open up the magical world of levers, switches and pulleys – and give a taste of how gruellingly hot it gets in there once the sun is out… See Adelaideoval.com.au.

Morialta Conservation Park

10km northeast of the city centre, and covering 533 hectares, the Morialta Conservation Park was a gift to the people of South Australia from John Smith Reid. In 1911, he decided to donate part of his land as a public reserve, and that's the way it remains today.

The park is effectively a canyon, with a bewildering network of walking trails criss-crossing it. Big, chunky rock faces, waterfalls that change from torrent to dainty trickle depending on the season and a deafening chorus of birdsong are par for the course. Pure SA runs guided hiking tours, pointing out caves and wildlife on the way, for those daunted by taking on the trail map alone. See PureSA.com.au.

Chambers Gully

The other big park that pretty much everyone goes to is the Cleland Conservation Park. It's home to the Waterfall Gully Hike up to the top of Mount Lofty, which is an Adelaide rite of passage, and the cuddleable koalas and feedable roos at the Cleland Wildlife Park. Many of the trails within the park, however, never get much of a look in – and many of them have recently been opened up to mountain bikers. The classic example is the one through Chambers Gully, which pretty much winds from the wildlife park into the eastern suburbs. Wild koalas, eerie gum trees and a sloping descent gentle enough not to terrify novices make for a marvellous two-wheeled downhill run. Escape Goat runs half day bike tours. See escapegoat.com.au.

The River Torrens Linear Park

The parkland stretch of the River Torrens that divides the city centre and North Adelaide is justifiably popular, but the walking trails and cycle paths go from there all the way down to the sea. Known as the Linear Park, the route actually starts in the Adelaide Hills, before finishing at Henley Beach. It's around 12.5km all up from the centre, with the main interruption being the squawking ducks on the river begging for a feed.

Once at Henley Beach, you've got what's arguably Adelaide's finest stretch of sand. Most visitors tend to go to Glenelg instead – largely because there's a direct tram there – but Henley is far less crowded . See SouthAustralianTrails.com

The Bay Discovery Centre

If you do choose Glenelg instead, the visitor information centre has got an undersold and rather engaging little museum upstairs. This covers the initial settlement of South Australia – it was Glenelg that the first ships landed at – plus lots of rose-tinted nostalgia about seaside life, shacks and arguments over appropriate swimwear. See glenelgsa.com.au/baydiscover.

The National Wine Centre of Australia

With primo wine regions such as the Barossa, Clare and McLaren Vale on the doorstep, it's hardly surprising that most visitors head straight out to the vines for wine tasting. But on a whistlestop visit, the National Wine Centre of Australia is a mighty handy substitute. Just outside the city centre, and part of the University of Adelaide, it's essentially a function space. But the café employs the Enomatic system – whereby you can use a card to get sample-sized pours of wines from dozens of top labels from across Australia. Award winners are handily corralled into one area.


The added bonus are the winding displays on Australian winemaking, that cover the token vines Governor Phillip planted outside his tent shortly after the First Fleet landed in Sydney, to modern day high tech viticulture. See wineaustralia.com.au.

Port Adelaide's old pubs

Port Adelaide could one day turn into South Australia's Fremantle. It has retained a remarkable number of its heritage buildings – they just need putting to good use. The area feels a bit dispiritingly empty to walk around, but there are still plenty of handsome old pubs that have managed to keep their doors open. The British Hotel, Lighthouse Inn and First Commercial Hotel are amongst the better bets for an atmospheric cold beer.

The Migration Museum courtyard

The Migration Museum, in the mish-mash of university buildings between North Terrace and the river, is small but fascinating. It goes into the stories of South Australia's original European settlers, the arguments over where to site the capital, the treatment of the local Aboriginal people and – later – the phenomenally racist language tests given to would-be settlers under the White Australia policy.

But it's the courtyard outside that sends the brain whirring. Hundreds of names have been etched into bricks on the floor – such as "Flaavi Hodunov, Estonia, 1949" and "Dante and Cora Juanta, Philippines, 1973". All hint at little, individual stories begging to be told. For example, just looking at "P Balathayalan and Inge Wachowski, Malaysia, 1977" brings up a thousand how and why questions. See migrationmuseum.com.au.

Disclosure: The writer was a guest of the South Australian Tourism Commission (southaustralia.com).