Adelaide is the most overlooked of Australia’s principal cities. You could spend weeks in Australia and never suspect it was there, for it rarely makes the news or gets a mention in anyone’s conversation. It is to Australia essentially what Australia is to the world – a place pleasantly regarded but far away and seldom thought about. And yet it is unquestionably a lovely city. Everyone is agreed on that, including millions who have never been there. – Bill Bryson, Down Under, p.160
Since making the decision to leave this small capital of Adelaide in South Australia, I’ve decided to document places I like to visit around town and how I’ve come to enjoy my occasional outings.
The first post of this series is Rundle Mall. This is the main shopping strip in ‘town’ (not ‘city’ like one might say of the CBD in Melbourne, for example). It is located between Pulteney Street and King William Road. Like any other mall, it is free from traffic and home to many of Australia’s well-known brands such as Esprit, Sportsgirl, Cotton On, Boost Juice, Zamels, Diva, Nine West, Jurlique, Sportscraft, Witchery, Body Shop, Kikki-K and Smiggle, just to name a few that are actually located on the mall itself. Myer, David Jones, Harris Scarfe and Target also have stores here.
Kikki-K and Smiggle are personal favourites that have only recently opened in the Mall in March 2010. It is quite astounding as I have been a fan of these stores since living in Melbourne (until 2006). These, I would dare say, are a much anticipated (and needed) addition to the mall. I always browse for fun, and I confess this is the furthest east I trek when I’m shopping. Seriously, if you are looking for cute or classy stationery pieces, these are the stores for you, located next to each other. How cute.
What did I do before these stores came to town? Well, the furthest east I would venture was Borders, and occasionally Dymocks. I’m a member and mail-list receiver of both these stores. I LOVE BOOKS! Both stores have different stock and are worth checking out, however, Borders has the bigger floor space – and the cafe, where you can read magazines off the shelves… hard to beat, really.
Before I go any further I should mention the various arcades within the mall. I personally don’t really shop in them but there are quite a few, including Regent Arcade, which you can see above, and Adelaide Arcade (and I guess Myer Centre and City Cross are classed as arcades too). Being from Gold Coast and Melbourne, I really don’t do closed-in spaces and shops and old facades. My opinion is that this Mall is in desperate need of an update? or upgrade? I love old buildings and architecture but it’s only beautiful if maintained immaculately. There, I’ve said it.
Today I started snapping the pictures from the middle of the mall. The photos may appear in random order if you know these shops but when you come by car or from the uni, a good starting point is Gawler Place (where I use the carpark a lot).
Cibo Espresso is an Adelaide chain of coffee shops, dotted throughout town and its suburbs. The Mall has a tiny espresso bar, but if you are looking for a quiet sit down with a group of friends, I recommend heading East (towards Target and beyond) and keep walking a block down to Frome Street, on the corner of which is a 2-story Cibo store. The coffee here is very good and rates highly in my mind (I would say I am a fussy coffee drinker having lived in Melbourne and married to an ex-barista), as far as chain coffee stores go.
Now a little more about the history of the Mall itself. I say ‘little bit’ because as far as I can tell, there is really only a little to say about its history. According to Wikipedia it was opened in 1976 and named after John Rundle (1791-1864), a British politician who arrived in Australia in 1840. Indisputably, the most interesting piece of history(?) regarding the Rundle Mall is that there are 6 ghosts in Regent Arcade… how bizarre.
Anyway, as you walk down the length of the mall, you will come across various sculptures. The first of these is a work called Spheres by Bert Flugelman.
I must confess, although I have frequented this mall for 4 years I have never really warmed to these balls.
Since I have shown you a picture of these balls and David Jones in the background, I must introduce you to an underground food court located beneath the department store. The food court itself is quite dated but there is a cafe in need of special mention.
T-bar is an Adelaide owned cafe and tea retailer. They have a few shops around town too; I love this place and they have fantastic chai (syrup or leaf, they’ll always ask – I recommend syrup!). You can also have light meals here. Whenever I have to wait for my husband to finish work, I come here for a beautiful chocolate chai (served with little chocolate pellets which you mix into the drink), perhaps with a ‘bap’ or a ‘flat’ – interesting names for little buns and flat bread.
So now back to the sculptures. The second one located in the mall, I find quite charming, Slide by John Dowie.
The last is a set of pigs located towards the west of the mall. I have mixed feelings about them. Apparently children love them but I find them a little bit gross.
Located near these odd looking pigs is my favourite arcade, the City Cross. Inside is a small collection of shops and a really nice food court (and the cleanest in the mall!). 2 of my favourite shops are located here, the Face Shop (cosmetics and skincare) and Fireflies [regrettably no URL] (homewares and gifts). Whenever I’m in the city I always visit them just to look around.
I love Fireflies because they have everything from handbags and accessories to teas, home fragrances and inspirational books. The best part is that you always feel a little bit special when a sales attendant comes up and says, “Did you know you can look inside the drawers for more items?” Then you spend the next 20 minutes opening every drawer to catch a glimpse of every charming piece they have in stock. What an absolutely lovable shop!
City Cross is usually the furthest west I would walk (in my heels), but I cannot finish an article on Rundle Mall without mentioning a South Australian icon, Haigh’s Chocolates!
This particular Haigh’s store is located on the corner of the mall and King William Rd, in the building interestingly known as the Beehive Corner, originally owned by the above-mentioned John Rundle. Ironically on the other corner is Darrel Lea (which I also love, but they’re not South Australian! They’re from Sydney!). This photo is the upper half of Beehive Corner…
The proximity of the two stores creates interesting competition, Haigh’s vs Darrel Lea – however, if you are a visitor to Adelaide, it’s a no brainer which to choose. Haigh’s are famous for their chocolate frogs! I also love the fact that every time I purchase anything, they always give me other samplers to try for free!
Speaking from personal experience, Haigh’s taste best in ADELAIDE (i.e. better than Haigh’s in other states). If you have more time in Adelaide, you might enjoy a visit to the factory and a tour of its facilities in Greenhill Road. I did the tour and loved it!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my overview of Rundle Mall! If you are a visitor looking for a particular store not mentioned in my post, why not visit the Information Booth located in the Mall towards the King William Rd end of shops? Otherwise I hope you’ve been able to find a few points of interest to keep your eye out for, next time you’re heading to Rundle Mall.