Welcome to South Australia

How far to this pub?

How far did you say it was to that pub?

   ADELAIDE, as avid cricket or cycling fans may know, is the capital of the State of South Australia.  South Australia is a silly name. It is on the southern coast of Australia, but only in the middle, somewhat to the east or right of centre.  It does have 4,800 km of coastline (some of which is boring) but that’s less than half the coast of southern Australia.

     It used to have a great chunk of the northern coastline as well, until the Northern Territory of South Australia was given quasi-independence and was taken over by the chaps in Canberra, which is pretty much what has been happening to all the other states and territories for the past 118 years.  Despite the Constitution.

     It is the driest state on the driest continent in the world.  That’s a problem, but South Australians are proud of it.

     They produce more wine than they could possibly drink, which wasn’t a problem until they began producing more wine than anyone else wanted to drink.

     They won’t have a bar of nuclear power and are reluctant to provide even a national dump for low level nuclear waste, but they are so proud of having the world’s biggest uranium mine that they give it almost unlimited access to the nation’s greatest source of fresh water — free, gratis and for nothing.

     Forget fission: around 50 per cent of South Australia’s electricity comes from solar and wind.  It is home to the world’s biggest grid-connected battery, is setting up a number of virtual power plants using solar panels on people’s houses, and has became a net exporter of energy to the eastern states.

    South Australia is proud of the fact that it was never a convict settlement, and has steadily expanded  its prison system.

     The Mediterranean climate is near-perfect, the metropolitan area is as flat as a pancake, the state hosts one of the world’s great cycle races, and the city has some of the best — and some of the worst — cycle lanes in the world.

     On the other hand, South Australia led the nation, and most of the world, in rights for women, Aboriginal people and homosexuals. In many respects, it still does.

     It is home to people from more than 200 countries.  Most of them, most of the time, are very, very happy to be here.

     Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp began in Adelaide and he still controls the state’s two mass circulation newspapers, The Advertiser and the Sunday Mail,  as well as Adelaide’s suburban give-aways, the Messenger.

    Rupert’s few media rivals hang on by their website fingernails.  But now there is another small breath of fresh AIR in Adelaide.