February 9, 2020
People & Places

Get to know your town – on foot

One Small Step is our new weekly guide to better living in South Australia. Today, slip on your sensible shoes and get to know your city more intimately, with our guide to Adelaide walking tours.

Stuart Symons leads a Modernist Adelaide walking tour.


Adelaide historian Stuart Symons’ passion for mid-century architecture and design prompted him to launch his Modernist Adelaide walking tours so he could introduce others to the city’s iconic ’50s, ’60s and ’70s buildings.

Over the past two years around 1400 people have joined the tours, which promise to immerse you in “a mid-century jet age of Mad Men-era Adelaide, when a new wave of modernist architecture redefined the city’s streetscapes and skyline”.

The next one is scheduled for March 1, and will depart at 11am from Crack Kitchen (in the 1950s former Bank of Adelaide building) at 13 Franklin Street, with tickets available on the Modernist Adelaide Facebook page.

Symons, who recently published a book showcasing 100 Modernist Adelaide Buildings, says interest in the era reflects a growing appreciation of building design features that blend character, functionality and comfort: “It wasn’t just about aesthetics, it was about making life better.”

One of Adelaide’s modernist gems.


Adelaide is home to a vibrant street-art scene, but many of our best murals are hidden down laneways or behind buildings. The Adelaide Fringe’s Street Art Explosion map enables you to create your own street-art walking tour, with the 2020 edition including 100 murals in the city and many more waiting to be discovered in the suburbs.

There are murals by artists such as Vans the Omega, Jimmy C, Ghostpatrol, Elizabeth Close and Peter Drew, as well as lesser-known and even unknown painters. The Street Art Explosion program also commissions new murals each year, with the latest including Donovan Christie’s Cornerstone of the Community – Comic Edition in Sym Choon Lane in the East End, and a series of murals by Dave Court, William Maggs and Juanita Klobas on the Deaf Can:Do building on Grange Road.

Download the full mural list and map on the Fringe website, get your walking shoes on, and choose your own adventure.

Donovan Christie works on a mural on Sym Choon Lane, a new addition to the 2020 Street Art Explosion map.


Ryan Carmody had just returned from living and working in Spain, and travelling Europe, when he started hosting tours in Adelaide’s CBD.

While travelling, he’d been on plenty of free, tips-based walking tours and wanted to bring the concept to Adelaide — he started Adelaide Free Walking Tour, and later changed its name to the current incarnation, Tours Around Adelaide.

His first tour was for four British girls, with a script he’d only rehearsed once. It went smoothly and over the first six months, interest grew rapidly.

“I try and put a bit of everything in the tour,” Ryan says. It starts with some fun facts and a wander to the Mall’s balls, Adelaide Arcade and some of the street art around the city.

Ryan’s favourite stop on the tour is Adelaide Town Hall, where he tells visitors about The Beatles’ tour in June 1964.

“I love the Beatles story about how the biggest crowd to ever come out and welcome them to any city in the world was in Adelaide, with approximately 300,000 people.

“It’s also interesting as Ringo Starr didn’t come to Adelaide. He was sick so a guy called Jimmy Nicol stepped in for him for the four shows in Adelaide.

“Ringo Starr re-joined the band very soon after they came to Adelaide and Jimmy Nicol was sent home.”

Moving from the ’60s to the current day, Ryan takes his group to Leigh and Peel streets to chat about more recent developments, and then to Ryan’s pick of the best coffee in town – Bonobo Espresso.

Then it’s another step back in time over at Parliament House to hear about South Australia’s colonial history. It wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the riverbank to see the Popeye and Adelaide Oval.

“I really like telling people about how Adelaide has changed quite a bit over the past seven to eight years. With the addition of the laneways, the Mall upgrade, adding more street art and the Adelaide Oval redevelopment, I think this city has really become one of the best places to live in Australia, if not the world.”

As much as Ryan imparts his wisdom to others, it’s what he gets out of the tours that stays with him.

“I think I have learnt so much about the world by meeting so many different people from all over. It is interesting having chats about people’s countries and getting their point of view.”

Details: toursaroundadelaide.com.au

Ryan Carmody conducting one of his free tours.


He’s the man with the blue cap, walking around the city, leading groups of curious history buffs.

Bob Brady, who runs Yella Umbrella Walking Tours, garnered a passion for local history while volunteering at the State Library of South Australia. As part of his volunteering, Bob took a TAFE course to run tours in the historic building.

It was there that he had the idea of using his knowledge and skills to educate people about both the library and the wider CBD.

Bob has been running his company for six years, and averages three tours each week. He’s the man to keep the crowds informed and entertained, leaning on his background in amateur theatre. 

Bob Brady’s tours focus on history.

Bob’s tour is a look at South Australia’s past, from Kaurna culture, to the colonial history.

“I start from before Europeans arrived here, through to the first governor, William Light laying out the city and the suffragette movement,” Bob says.

Bob tells his stories with a backdrop of important sites in Adelaide; the Kaurna installation at the InterContinental, Parliament House, Government House, the State Library, Adelaide Town Hall and the place Bob says has the best coffee in the city — Caffe L’Incontro in Gays Arcade.

“I suggest people do the tour at the beginning of their stay here because everything else they do, they’ll be able to link in our various stages of evolution here.”

Bob estimates he’s hosted 500 tours, and he would have clocked up many kilometres, with each tour taking around two and a half hours. It keeps him fit, and also keeps his mind ticking along.

“I’m always learning new things to bring to the tours. The more you can tell people, the better the reaction.”

One of Bob’s favourite places to take his groups is one of Adelaide’s architectural treasures.

“I love showing people the Mortlock wing at the library — especially children. I’ll say to them, ‘We’re now about to enter Hogwarts’.”

For details and ticket prices go here – yellaumbrellawalkingtours.com.au

One Small Step is our new guide to better living in South Australia.

Read our first story in the series: Take a step towards fitness – without spending anything

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