In the corner of my Adelaide garden is a clump of agapanthus. “Hurt my shoulder trying to lift and divide mine,” complained my patient who came for a physiotherapy session. “Do you know they're actually from South Africa?” So I googled agapanthus (or African lily) and discovered that they naturally occur nowhere else on earth. So the agapanthus and I are aliens from Africa in Adelaide! And so I've decided that if it can survive in South Australia without watering, so can I.
The place name Adelaide, SA has caused much confusion. Rumour has it that a church organ that was being sent to Adelaide in South Australia landed in Adelaide, South Africa and is still there today! Strangely, both Adelaides are drought prone.
Australia's Adelaide reminds me of a Bloemfontein by the sea. The Adelaide hills are just a larger Naval Hill. Differences include the winter rain and the higher summer temperatures. It takes only about half an hour to get to the beach or to the hills from Adelaide's city centre.
Perhaps it has something to do with my alien-ness, but I have fallen in love with the local aliens of Adelaide. The cute little rabbits, for example, that instead are regarded as pests that need to be exterminated. Then there was the stray cat that I saw across the road. The magpies mobbed it, but it wasn't perturbed. “Kitty…come here,” I called. As it turned around and strutted into the creek, I quickly realised that it was a fox! And foxes, of course, are menaces that should be poisoned, and then there's the beautiful purple blanket over the hills in September and October. It's known as Patterson's curse, a weed, that needs eradicating!
Well, now to the birds in my creek. The Laughing Kookaburras make me smile. They sound like old, drunk women. The noisy miner (“he's taking over, he is!”) sings like a nightingale first thing in the morning outside my window. The beauty of the Adelaide rosellas and rainbow lorikeets delight and amaze me daily. And I can't get used to the screech of the lovely sulphur crested cockatoo. I think it's a cat being tortured!
My experience of Adelaide is that there are places to visit every weekend: National parks with koala bears that look hungover as they sit in the clefts of eucalyptus branches; wineries, farm stalls, festivals, beaches, agricultural shows. We recently came upon the show at Uraidla quite by chance. Under the auspices of the Uraidla and Summerton Horticultural and Floricultural Society Inc, it reminded me of the Bathurst Show in the Eastern Cape. I browsed through the program while watching a sheep herding competition. Events included: The Poultry Section, which would not proceed if the temperature was more than 35 degrees. There was the scarecrow championship which required exhibits to withstand the elements. Also on the list was log chopping, a home brewed beer and liqueurs section, and my favourite The SA Country Women's Association Scone Competition.
I'm happy in Adelaide and like my agapanthus, I'm taking root in foreign soil. South Africans are tough and we readily adapt (helped along by Ouma rusks and biltong). There's so much to enjoy in South Australia. With petrol in the tank, and a handful of brochures and pamphlets, each weekend is an adventure.
Some interesting facts about South Australia:
- The state's floral emblem is the Sturt's Desert Pea (although I've not yet seen one due to the drought).
- The fauna emblem is a hairy nosed wombat and the gemstone emblem is an opal.
- The world's biggest rocking horse is found 30 km outside Adelaide in Gumeracha.
- Adelaide is the only major city in the world completely surrounded by parklands.
- It has the only venue in Australia to serve the notorious seafood, the Fugu pufferfish. It is extremely poisonous if any residue is left in the fish.
- The first person to pilot a powered flight in Australia was South Australian, Bill Wittber. The SA Aviation Museum has labelled the lack of recognition as a great denial (Victorians claim that US escape artist Harry Houdini was the first).
- There is a coastal suburb, which is a palindrome – Glenelg.
- During Writers' Week world famous authors read from their work (and middle-aged women occasionally faint in the tents from excitement and the February heat). South African-born author JM Coetzee is part of the team.
- There are two world famous panda bears in South Australia and Monarto Zoo is soon to become the largest zoo in the world.
- Adelaide is home to beautiful botanical gardens with an interesting South African section.
- The television series McLeod's Daughters was shot near Gawler.