FUCK#!NG ADELAIDE — underrated urban space and place in this great city
Words by Sarah Hamilton
Adelaide, the city of wine. Adelaide, the city of culture. Adelaide, the city of nostalgia? Although us Adelaidians love to project our home as being this pulsating creator of artisanal foods, contemporary arts and international festivals, we still have a soft spot for the places which have always been there to remind of us of who we really are. The places, which, in 20 years, when we’ve all grown up and are living far away will make us miss the simplicity of our youth, of small-town living, of everything that is uniquely Adelaide.
The Exeter Hotel is a historic piece of Adelaide glory situated in the heart of The East End. Founded by Robert Radford in 1851, this pub has been the meeting place for students, workers, lost souls and everyone else in-between. The Exeter, or “the Ex” as it’s colloquially known, doesn’t feature much in tourist brochures about the city. There’s no glitz, there’s no glam, there’s just a pure functionality that makes this place special in Adelaide. It’s the place we go when our hearts get broken, when we have some good news to share with friends, when we need some solace from the troubles of our busy lives. There’s nothing quite like drinking an Exeter cider against the backdrop of the iconic green-tiled walls and mosaic tables; seeing friends from all over the city congregate in this tiny-shared space of Adelaide’s diverse population. Drinking at The Exeter is an important celebration of our history and the hard work of Robert Radford, a pioneering spirit who first commemorated Adelaide’s passion for a good larger and chat with friends. The Exeter has and always will be the backbone of connection in Adelaide. It brings people from all walks of life to one central melting pot of arts, culture, music and community. Between the landscape of an ever metamorphosing city, The Exeter is a representation of the history and camaraderie which makes this city so great.
Men in Black:
There’s two unsung heroes in Adelaide, protecting us all from intergalactic warfare in our very own suburban streets. Although faded since their first display, the cardboard figures of Men in Black stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones have become a quirky landmark. For 20 years, they have been the unofficial mascots of the city, serving us through questionable state-elections, technological and sociological changes and other important slices of South Australian history. When their Unley Road home was up for sale in 2008, there was furore across the city as to whether these heroes would still be around to protect and serve from their Cross Road fortress. Fortunately, the new owners kept them in their rightful place, restoring balance in the universe. The Men in Black have become an Adelaide staple for the same reason as our dear Exeter. For 20 years, they have seen the city grow, develop and flower into modernity, but for 20 years, they have stayed the same. Having them survive that long is like keeping your childhood jumper till adulthood, although it’s all old and scruffy, you still have it around because it’s always been there to keep you warm and secure. The Men in Black have proven to be this scruffy jumper, this lasting memory from childhood. A reminder that the inherent nature of Adelaide will never change, no matter how many sky-rise buildings and international festivals are planted in our streets.
Hindmarsh Square (Emo Park):
The Hindmarsh Square Playground was supposed to act as an interactive play space for inquisitive Adelaide children. However, since being named South Australia’s best urban landscape project in 2009, the Playground has become the haunt of another type of citizen. Dubbed “emo park” through the South Australian grapevine, The Hindmarsh Playground has become a hangout for disillusioned youths from across the city. Amidst the post-modern bone-structures and concrete fish-carcasses, the teens of Adelaide have found sanctity right in the middle of the city. Emo park has become a city landmark because of its notorious design (which detracts from the red brick architecture of the adjoining Grenfell street), moody atmosphere of delinquent teens and #memes made in its honour on Adelaide tribute pages online. Emo park is not celebrated by all, however, with local businesses complaining that the constant onslaught of youths have destroyed their industry and trade. But this is why Emo park is so important. It’s a rejection of normality and industry, a celebration of Adelaide’s unorthodox and quirky nature and permanent reminder of our famous stubbornness. Emo park is in the memories and hearts of every Adelaide teen who mouthed the words to every My Chemical Romance song blasting from their iPod. It is the graveyard of after school hangouts, Maccas runs, first kisses and heartbreaks. It will always the landmark of our formative years, the messy years, the years where we used too much eye-liner and hairspray.
Oh, the places you’ll go, the sights you’ll see and the people you’ll meet. Wherever you are in the world, these “landmarks” will always be a reminder of home and what it’s like to truly and authentically be Adelaidian.