January 10-16 – Double vision in Adelaide
When we arrived at the Adelaide train station, David and Jeannette were there to greet us. I’d seen pictures so recognized them instantly. But even if I hadn’t, the resemblance between David and Robin would have been unmistakable.
It’s not just that they are identical twins. In their forty years apart, they have aged differently and are no longer exact copies. However, in their mannerisms, their voices, their patterns of speech, and thought processes, they are a match. They even fart in stereo.
Jeannette gave me a fuzzy little koala as I stepped off the train, a welcoming gesture typical of her warm and generous spirit. Other than photographs, it’s the first souvenir of our time in Australia and likely the only one I’ll bring back to Canada.
David may know more about Adelaide than any of its other million-plus residents so our first forays into the city’s beautiful heart have been rich in historic detail. Though we have only scratched the surface of the city’s historic sites, I have already gained an appreciation for a city that was deliberately ringed by parkland and founded on principles of freedom of religion.
Adelaide was founded in 1836 by the British government as a free colony, with no convict labour. The site was chosen by Colonel William Light, who planned the city and surveyed the surrounding countryside for farming. All peoples of all religions were welcome to settle in the colony. Hence many different churches were built in the city, to the point where it became known as “the city of churches”.
There was no consultation with the Aboriginal people. After land was surveyed, settlers bought by the city blocks or farmland. The proceeds of the sale then paid the ship fare for working class people to be brought out to work for the landowners. This system was known as the Wakefield System.
The week in Adelaide has been a flurry of activity, except for Tuesday, when Robin and I vegetated after we were both hit by a mysterious tummy bug. Even that day we mustered enough energy to join David and Jeannette for a visit to the Adelaide Central Market. We strolled past most of the fruit, vegetable, meat, and deli stalls, gathering ingredients for the dinner Robin and I wanted to prepare the next night. Into our bags went free-range chicken, goat cheese, aged cheddar, crisp salad vegetables, mango, ripe strawberries, and creamy Greek yoghurt (for marinating the chicken).
In our week in Adelaide we have enjoyed walks along sandy beaches that stretch for miles. Our walks have taken us along West Beach and from Brighton to Seacliff Beaches and back.
At Kingston we walked a small part of the Tjilbruke Trail. David told us the Dreamtime legend of the much-respected Kaurna ancestor. His grief was so deep when his nephew was killed that the Dreaming Tracks along which he carried the young man’s body to a cave burial is marked by his tears. Wherever his tears fell, a freshwater spring marks his passage, reminding those who walk between and Rapid Bay (Patparno) of his grief Kingston (Tulukdank).
Another day we joined the Marion Rotary Club for an evening at the University of South Australia’s planetarium on its Mawson Lakes campus. Two Mondays in a row we’ve gone on beach walks with the Marion Probus Club.
We have laughed our way through a superb production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikkado at the Adelaide Festival Theatre. And we have enjoyed an Aussie barbecue beside the River Torrens, followed by our first chance to watch live tennis at the World Tennis Challenge (WTC) in the Memorial Drive Tennis Courts.
For the WTC, four players now on the world circuit (Mark Philipossus, Taylor Dent, Fabrice Santoro, and Joachim Johansson for you tennis enthusiasts) played demonstration matches, with Dent and Santoro giving us the most high-powered game of the evening. The other matches paired past champions and current hotshots in a team competition among four countries: France, Sweden, the U.S., and, of course, Australia.
With nothing to lose, the past champs could salt their sets with crowd-pleasing antics. In the singles, French player Henri Leconte was clown prince. In the final games—doubles that paired the current and past champions—any semblance of serious play gave way to comedy. Our stomachs were sore from laughing by the time the winning points were made.
The surprise we’d been promised during the barbecue turned out to be Mansour Bahrami. His first appearance was during the doubles. We wondered who this short, fit but clearly elder tennis statesman was. He looked too old to have much staying power on the court.
Turns out he is an Iranian-born tennis great. Burning to play but too poor to buy equipment, the young Bahrami took up a frying pan and broom handle and rigged up a tennis racket. His chance at world status was curtailed when professional sports were banned in Iran, so he emigrated to France. At thirty he was too old to become a world champion, but he has been a favourite on the Champions Tour since 1994 and is considered the best tennis entertainer on the circuit.
Side note: Robin had his eye on another part of the tennis show, the pre-game fashion models in their bikinis. I’ll drop in one of the photos he took.