Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Festival State

Post-euro trip impressions of Adelaide:

So after purchasing a plentiful amount of postcards whilst overseas I was lead to wonder what kinds of postcards had been created for little Adelaide, my own home town. It was a curious mystery and my quest proved quite worth while. It turns out Adelaide, though the 3rd biggest city on the continent, doesn’t have the greatest tourist industry. Not really that surprising.

The people who work in that tourist info box in the middle of the mall are all old, probably bored and retired. People who work in the shops selling ‘Adelaide’  tourism items, are all Asians or at least not your ‘typical’ Australian. I will, though, admit that this is true of almost every tourist shop I entered around the world. We don’t really have any history. We don’t really have anything particularly outstanding or worth while to show anyone. There are a lot of suburbs. I guess it’s pretty good if you want to get drunk ‘wine tasting’ at the Jacobs creek quality winery but someone’s got to drive all the way out to McLaren vale and that’s always a down side. We have a mall with some mediocre chain shops in it, personally I think that the Giant Rocking Horse is the best thing we’ve got going for us – mind you, I couldn’t find a single postcard for that.

I wondered what we’d do if there was a free tour – where we’d take people, what on earth there was in the city centre (the rocking horse is inconveniently located in Gumuracha and if you wonder where that is you’ve pretty much just answered your own question) to take a tour to. There are lots of chain stores, but I’m sure they have those at home. There’s the botanical gardens… and the torrens. It probably made a better tourist attraction when there was no water in it because it was funny and there were lots of things like bikes and cars in the river. And then there’s the pop eye and those paddle boats, they’re pretty good – but you couldn’t really take a walking tour on the paddle boats. We have a zoo… you could tell them that story about the guy who impaled himself on the zoo fence. And of course there’s the malls balls (yes, two big silver balls in the middle of the mall, wow), but once again I swear more people took photos in front of them when they were off being polished! And the council had the bright idea of putting a fence with a big picture of what the balls normally looked like. Genius.

So on Adelaide postcards, the #3 most repeated image was that church that they just spent like 3 years covering up and fixing near Victoria Square. You know, it’s all old and big, every city is supposed to have one so I guess that they’re excited that we’re not left out anymore because you can finally see ours!

#2 was probably a draw between a ‘sky view’ of the city – not very interesting if you ask me, but there are always people looking to buy boring things and I guess its an accurate summary of the city. And the good old Torrens/torrens and the popeye/torrens and the paddle boats and the pop eye etc received similar attention. I guess its our only river, even if it is full of carps and only 1 meter deep – the tourists can’t see that through the algae so let them believe something better! Oh and I did see a few postcards of the ‘old glenelg trams’ and I’m sorry but I highly doubt that any tourist would have even seen the trams because they NEVER use them! What are the chances of one of our few tourists getting on the exact one and only tram that they use, what, once a week? And they’re supposed to be up there in our history and tourist promotion!

And the #1 postcard for Adelaide city was THE PIGS. My personal theory is that this is the government’s way of trying to justify spending such a ridiculous amount of money on them. There was even a postcard saying ‘look at our $70 000 bronze pigs’ – they actually want people to know that this is what they have decided to invest their money in!! a poor attempt at reverse psychology, and so if they print a bunch of postcards then they will give the impression people actually are coming to Adelaide to see the pigs. The best postcard was one with a side shot of the pigs and right behind them is this old lady with grey hair sitting by herself on a bench. But seriously, of all the things you can build a statue of to ‘improve the city’ why would you choose pigs? Why not ducks – something, anything! a little more savoury. There’s actually one going through a bin! Admittedly I have seen a relatively large number or asian tourists and their small children posing on top of them. But I still don’t understand how pigs ever came through the council board as being a good idea.

There wasn’t a single postcard of the mall’s balls and I really think that they are a much better tourist attraction than a bunch of pigs! And ‘city art’ attractions, well, we’ve got the balls, the pigs, there are those big pieces of twisted metal poles on light square – possibly made by the same uninspired person who made the malls balls. Then there’s the weird origami things they put on the torrens, they’re quite pretty really – probably the best thing we’ve got going for us on a poor basis of comparison. And then there’s the moderate obstruction nearby the festival theatre, that big colourful chimney and all those blue cubes. What is that! What were they thinking! It’s massive and would have cost a fortune and is kind of okay because it looks like we’re stuck in the 80’s which is kind of funny but I’m not sure if it was intended as a joke. There’s a wall covered in different match box cars down a little alley way in the city which I am sure no tourist will ever find but it is the only art I would ever desire to recommend someone take the time to look at.

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