Recently awarded the most liveable city in Australia, and the third most liveable city in the world (after Auckland and Osaka), a study has also shown that South Australia is the most considerate state! Here are some fun facts about our home state that you may not have heard before!
1. South Australia was freely settled, unlike the rest of Australia!
On 28 December 1836, the State of South Australia was established by Governor Hindmarsh as a free settlement for British settlers. Colonel William Light chose the location of the City of Adelaide, and designed its grid layout with 6 city squares, gardens and parklands surrounding the city.
2. Lake Eyre is the largest Salt Lake in Australia
Officially known as Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre, when filled completely is both the largest lake in Australia and is also the lowest natural point at 15 metres below sea level. The last time it was filled completely was in 2001, which usually only happens about four times in a century. When dry, it has also been the site of many land-speed record attempts!
3. There are 18 wine regions in South Australia
Everyone has heard of the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and the Clare Valley, but these are just the tip of the iceberg (so to speak) … within an hour of Adelaide there is also the Southern Fleurieu, Langhorne Creek, Adelaide Hills and Adelaide Plains regions. Venturing a bit further afield, we have the Riverland, Coonawarra, Kangaroo Island, and Southern Flinders Ranges to name but a few! South Australia accounts for over half of Australia’s wine production and almost 80% of the country’s premium wine is produced here too, from some of the oldest vines in the world.
4. Churches or Festivals?
Adelaide is known as the City of Churches, and part of the Festival State! When Adelaide was founded, it was a city of religious tolerance and gained the moniker due to the diversity of faiths that were represented here. These days, our many festivals and sporting events (… Mad March, anyone?...) have given us the name of the Festival State, including the Adelaide Fringe which is the biggest arts festival in the Southern Hemisphere (and second largest in the world behind the Edinburgh Fringe Festival).
5. The Opal Capital
Coober Pedy, about 850 kms (or 9 hours drive) north of Adelaide, produces 70% of the world’s opal supply. Due to the hot and harsh desert climate, many of the residents live underground in ‘dugouts’, where the temperature remains constant and comfortable year-round. The local Coober Pedy Golf Course is mostly used at night due to the heat, completely free of grass, and players can keep any opals they find while playing! It is also the only golf club in the world to have reciprocal rights to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Scotland.
6. A City of Firsts
Adelaide was the first Australian capital city to be linked by telegraph to London, back in 1872. Then, in 1881, the University of Adelaide was the first in Australia to allow women to study, and in 1885 Edith Dornwell was the first woman to graduate from the university with a degree in Science. South Australia was the first state in Australia (second only to New Zealand in the world) to allow women to vote in 1895, also the first in the world to give equal political rights to women and men.
7. Home to Anna Creek Station
Larger than Israel (Slovenia, Montenegro, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta, too!), and 8 times larger than the largest ranch in the USA, Anna Creek Station is the world’s largest working cattle station. At 5.851 million acres, or 23,677 square kilometres, this enormous station is located just 160 km from Coober Pedy.
8. Farmers Union Iced Coffee is more popular than Coke
South Australia is one of the very few places on the planet where the local drink, in this case, Farmers Union Iced Coffee, outsells Coca- Cola! Additionally, the iconic beverage is the only milk-based drink anywhere in the world to outperform it’s fizzy rival! … “It’s a Farmers Union Iced Coffee, or it’s nothing.”
9. Conservatories and Glasshouses
Adelaide is also home to both the largest single-span conservatory and the oldest glasshouse in the Southern Hemisphere. The Bicentennial Conservatory was built in 1988 to celebrate Australia’s Bicentenary, and has received many awards, including the 9th best building in Australia and the youngest building to ever receive Heritage Listing. On the other hand, the Palm House is a restored Victorian Glasshouse imported from Germany in 1875 and is thought to be the only glasshouse of its kind still in existence in the world. Both of these incredible buildings are located in the stunning Adelaide Botanic Gardens.
10. The Flinders Ranges and the beginning of life on Earth
Dr Reginald Sprigg, founder of SANTOS and the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, was enjoying his lunch one day in 1946 while working for the SA Government exploring abandoned mines in the Flinders Ranges when he discovered some fossils. At first thought to be of Early Cambrian age, it was later discovered that these fossils are of the oldest complex life ever found on earth, dating back some 600 million years, and resulted in the creation of the Ediacaran Period, the first new geological period to be created in over a hundred and twenty years.
All images by Dennis Bunnik