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Full Circle

Day 135: On the Ghan to Adelaide

Michael Palin - Full CircleSouthern Australia, unlike New South Wales, was never a convict colony. It has a tolerant tradition and according to my Rough Guide was 'the first state to legalize gay love'. Adelaide, its capital, is a city trying to wriggle free from a solid, serious provincial past and have a bit of fun. The lavish Italianate town hall is open for weddings and concerts, the stern mercantile buildings of King William Street are likely to have a live band playing at a bar in the basement. There is a casino in the old railway station and behind the reverently inscribed on the sandstone facade of the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange - 'The Earth is the Lord's and the Fulness Thereof' - lies a whole new neighbourhood of expensive apartment housing. Beneath the sober classical portico of the Parliament Building is a banner reading 'Stop media persecution of the rave community!' A young blonde woman is assuring a large vociferous crowd that 'My party is the only one that will offer you unequivocal support.'

Rundle Street is a gauntlet of pleasure spots, everything from pubs and wine bars to cafes, coffee shops and restaurants. The pavements are stocked two or three deep with tables at which sit a lot of young, modern Australians in chinos and collarless cotton shirts or flimsy summer dresses eating olive bread and drinking the latest Chardonnay. After ten days in the Outback I feel as though I've landed on another planet.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 135
  • Country/sea: Australia
  • Place: Adelaide
  • Book page no: 193

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