Adelaide – the Festival City.
It is one of the reasons I praise my ancestors who not only decided to jump on leaky boats from European ports for the arduous colonial sea voyage to Australia but had the sense to make South Australia, rather than the eastern seaboard, their destination.
As a born and mostly bred South Australian (there is a part of my childhood linked to the Northern Territory but I digress), my whole life has been imbued with the creativity and excitement that comes with having one of the most significants arts festivals in the world on your doorstep. Even when I have lived away from Adelaide and South Australia this influence remained with me.
While we are all aware of Mad March with the flurry of Adelaide Festival, Adelaide Writers Week, the Fringe and Womadelaide; Adelaide is in fact a hive of cultural expression all year round. No matter where your creative instincts may lie, should it be either in fine arts, music, crafts, performing arts or writing, there are a myriad of events that we can indulge in for the remaining 11 months of the year. This includes the Cabaret Festival, the Guitar Festival, the Umbrella Winter City Sounds, SALA, OzAsia or Feast. Then there are our cultural institutions such as the Festival Centre, State Theatre Company, State Opera, the Art Gallery of South Australia and the South Australian Museum that provide further opportunities for cultural pursuits. You can see why Adelaide’s nick name – Radelaide – has emerged.
If that isn’t enough inspiration for creatives living in Adelaide there are the artistic support networks located around the city. From my own writing perspective I have gained much from Writers SA with their resources, services and regular courses.
This cultural intensity also leads to some amazing community based and informal artistic and creative support around Radelaide. A good example of this level of support for me has been a local social media based writers’ group which I joined last year. Not only has it been a great source of support while embarking on the latest WIP but is also has also provided a forum to discuss and share articles and ideas on the writing craft.
The group – Writers of Adelaide – is quite an eclectic group with the membership ranging from those lucky ones who have reached publication status to others, like me, still wrangling that first draft together. One of its great joys for me is the opportunity to swap notes on juggling the writing life with real life, reminding us all as we sit down to write whether it is at our computers, on other electronic devices or handwriting down ideas with pen and paper, that we are not alone. The other thing we all have in common is our passion for writing.
This year the group has evolved away from our computer screens to now include monthly face to face catch ups providing further support to the creative life. A more recent innovation has been the establishment of a blog chain. With many of us sporting blogs we felt the concept provided an avenue for cross promoting each other’s blogs in turn hopefully generating more followers for us all. It also greatly helps in providing a blog topic prompt. It is in fact this month’s blog chain topic – Adelaide a source of inspiration for your writing or your job – is providing the mojo for this post.
Away from the support for creativity this city provides, Adelaide itself is a great source of inspiration as a writer. A former journalist with The Advertiser (Adelaide’s daily morning newspaper) I was fortunate to meet so many interesting people and cover some great events across this city during my time on the editorial floor. It won’t surprise me if any of them ever pop up in my own writing some time.
Away from the glitter and glam as a city renowned for its support of the arts and culture, there is a darker side of Adelaide. A dark side that also provides a source of inspiration for writers – its predilection for the unusual, brutal and in some cases still unsolved, crimes. Radelaide with its hot summers and long western coastline of sandy beaches provides a backdrop to one of the most baffling crimes ever – the mystery of the Beaumont Children. Having grown up and gone to school in Glenelg I must confess the spectre of that mystery very much played into my childhood consciousness. It was easy for my parents and teachers to just mention the Beaumont name for us to be very aware of stranger danger. There was no need to invent fictional ogres.
I was still at school when the victims of The Family and Truro murders went missing (a further contributing factor towards stranger danger awareness) and was at The Advertiser during the subsequent trials for those convicted. Where else but in South Australia could you come up with the Snowtown body in the barrels case?
They say that truth can be stranger than fiction and Radelaide certainly knows how to write a damn good crime story.
It comes as no surprise that this history has attracted the interest of writers and was certainly a topic of conversation at Adelaide Writers Week in 1984. The event’s major drawcard British writer Salman Rushdie certainly got tongues wagging (and much newprint produced) when he declared the city the perfect setting for a Stephen King novel or horror film. “Adelaide,” he said “is Amityville or Salem.”
Away from the dark side, the romantic soul of Adelaide with its food and wine, gardens, parks and relatively close proximity to the Mount Lofty Ranges and South Coast also provides inspiration. Friend and romance writer Victoria Purman has included Adelaide (and other parts of the state) in her published works and one of my all time favourite local novels, Where The Queens All Strayed by Barbara Hanrahan is very much an ode to Radelaide.
Adelaide – the Festival City. I am a very lucky writer to be able to call her home and revel in the source of creativity and inspiration she provides to me.
I am the last Writers of Adelaide blogger to post my thoughts on Radelaide but the group through this blog chain have all provided some great takes on just what makes this city tick for them. For some it is an inspiring place to raise a family while for those who have come from elsewhere, inspiration has come through the joy of discovering Adelaide and ultimately deciding this was a good place to establish roots.
So while this is my creative take on Adelaide please feel free to look at what my fellow Writers of Adelaide colleagues have had to say about this grand girl: