By THOMAS HUKAHU
IT is likely that most Papua New Guineans who enter Port Moresby from Australia, after a long stay in the continent Down Under, would be coming from Brisbane and Cairns in Queensland, or Perth in Western Australia.
Queensland is closer to home and you can find many PNG professionals in Perth because of the large mining operations going on there. I have peers and former science students who are now working down there as mining engineers or geologists.
It is unlikely that you would have someone from further down south, as in Hobart in Tasmania or Adelaide in South Australia.
Such cities are too far down south for PNG holiday makers to visit, but I have since realised that it is likely that some of the best places in Australia to visit are furthest from PNG, and Adelaide is one of them.
(Charles Moi’s article in Weekender a fortnight gave you brief descriptions about Adelaide, and I will continue with other interesting details and history with photos, as well as educational opportunities in later articles.)
Why am I here in Adelaide?
I was fortunate to have been offered a scholarship by Australia Awards Scholarships PNG (AAS PNG) to start this year at the postgraduate level at Adelaide, something that I had always wanted to do.
At this point of the article, and on behalf of the 90 scholars who were successful in winning an Australia Awards scholarship for this year, I would like to thank the AAS PNG management and officers who worked tirelessly over so many months last year to have gathered us in Port Moresby for assessments and interviews, as well as getting all our university placements in order before our departure to our respective institutions here in Australia. (We also thank the interview panel members for being committed to their tasks to help in the selection process.)
We would like to also thank all our employers and our colleagues who have supported us in attending the different sessions that AAS PNG organised.
Thanks must also go to our family members who have supported us in the long process in getting our papers in order, as well as allowing us time to sit for hours in fixing up our application.
We also would like to thank the Australian Government for initiating and continuing such a prestigious and needful opportunity for Papua New Guineans to obtain a world-class qualification from an Australian university.
Some scholars follow family tradition
For some of us, the AAS awardees, we are second-generation PNG citizens to be travelling down here to Australia to spend a year or two to complete a tertiary education programme. (I am aware that three other young people have parents who were once educated in the continent down under.)
Before I left Port Moresby last month, I flew down my father from our village up north in mainland New Guinea to Port Moresby to spend a week with me and my relatives who are based in the capital city.
I had a little talk with my father then before flying down here on Jan 7 and learned a bit more about his one year of studies in Canberra in 1973, when he was working as a senior teacher and later senior lecturer in teachers’ colleges in our nation.
He told me some interesting things about his time in Canberra and it would be one of my goals this year to visit his alma mater, which is now part of the University of Canberra.
Some of my peers and relatives wondered why I was coming too far down south and I told them I was attracted to the University of Adelaide’s engineering, computer and mathematical sciences faculty for a long time. That is why I applied to come here to Adelaide. (I will tell you more about our campus in a later article.)
However, since being here for almost a month now, I am learning so many interesting stuff about this wonderful city and the surrounding suburbs and towns, as well as the people who live here.
How is Adelaide’s weather like?
Before arriving in Adelaide, one of my cousins who has been down here in Australia numerous times informed me that Adelaide’s weather is hot and dry in summer (the season we are now in).
He was right. And true, on certain days, the temperature could rise to close to 40 degrees Celsius, as on Jan 30. The day was already heating up at 6 am, you could feel the simmering heat as you came out of the house.
You could feel the heat reflected off the concrete sidewalk, and were you to walk between two brick buildings, you could feel the hot air brushing your face, as if about to singe the hair on your legs, arms or hands, if you have not shaved them off yet.
(Best advice on such hot days? Keep to the shades, stay closer to the buildings or under trees.)
Interestingly, on Jan 31, the day was all cloudy and the temperature dropped, and by noon it was drizzling in some parts of the city until late afternoon when it started pouring heavily.
On Feb 1, it was drizzling all morning and it was cold, as if the winter season had started.
That is how Adelaide weather could be in summer, so hot one day and suddenly turning chilly in the afternoon and having heavy rainfall within 36 hours.
We were informed that the weather in Adelaide is like that in Mediterranean, it has hot dry summers and cool-to-mild winters and punctuated fairly equally by the two other seasons of spring and autumn.
Wikipedia states that it is generally rainy during winters.
One of my Aussie colleagues (back in PNG) said in the joking manner that “my hair would fall off in winter”. I would have to wait for four more months to see if that is true.
Names given to Adelaide
Before arriving here, other members of the international school I was working in in PNG last year told me that Adelaide is called the “City of Churches”.
You can see how the city got that nickname, because as you are moving about the city, you can see many churches, many of which were built in the 1800s and early 1900s and featured the solid sandstone structures, and arched roofs with high towers and spires.
Before settlers came to Adelaide and surrounding areas, the Aboriginal group known as the Kaurna people lived here in the Adelaide plains, which extended from the hills in the east to the coast on the west, and from the dry areas up north to the coast in the south. (It is often the case that presenters in a public gathering acknowledge the original custodians of this area before their formal session commences.)
I have since learned that the early settlers from Europe came to Adelaide after South Australia was founded in February 1839 as a province of Britain. Unlike the cities of the states to the east of Adelaide, the early settlers here were not ex-convicts who were resettled in some government initiative to work the land.
The early settlers in South Australia came here to escape the persecution or discrimination that they experienced back in England and other parts of Europe, like Germany. They travelled to this unknown continent in the Southern Hemisphere so that they could practise their faith freely.
Because of that, church buildings are all over the city and surrounding suburbs – those settlers were free to set up camp, construct their church buildings with their elaborate features and worship the God they believed in freely without any fear of being persecuted by a government or larger Christian denomination.
It is for that reason that I titled this article: “Adelaide – Land of the free”.
Well-planned, event host
Adelaide is a well-planned city from the very beginning.
South Australia’s first surveyor-general designed the city in such a way that the main part of the city has four terraces (roads) forming a quadrilateral around the Victoria Square, the centre.
And around the four sides of the city are a ring of parks, known as Adelaide Parklands.
Interestingly, Adelaide has been recognised as one of the most liveable cities in the world.
The city of 1.3 million was voted by Property Council as the most liveable city in Australia in 2010-2012. It was voted by Economist Intelligence Unit as the fifth most liveable city in the world in 2012-2016.
The University of Adelaide’s website states that the city “is blessed with an abundance of green space and minimal traffic congestion, making travel – including walking and cycling – safe, pleasant and easy”.
Adelaide hosts a few international events, including Tour Down Under, a cycling contest which sees riders from around the world competing in. That event took place a few weeks ago and we saw many cyclists, or groups of cyclists, moving about the city.
Adelaide Fringe starts from Feb 11-March 15 and is a world-famous arts festival. WOMADelaide is a music and arts festival and starts in March.
There is also an Adelaide Writers’ Week will be staged about the same time as WOMADelaide and in October there would be the Adelaide Film Festival.
Rundle Mall, a central place
If you want to get fresh vegetables in Adelaide, go to Central Market.
If you want to get Chinese products or a have a Chinese meal on any week of the day, go to China Town, which is just next to Central Market.
However, if you want to buy clothes, food, coffee, do banking or enjoy snacks, the best place at any time of the day is to go to Rundle Mall, which runs along the eastern side of North Terrace and bordered on the south by Glenfell Street, where many residents living out of the city come to catch the bus to go home after work. It is likely that you will see musicians entertaining passersby with their violin, guitar or piano.
An eight-year-old boy named Gabriel caught my attention in the first few days that I was in Adelaide and sorting stuff in Rundle Mall. (His mother usually sits at the side while he performs and get tips from people passing by.)
You can see Gabriel as well as other musicians on weekdays and Saturdays making music to entertain people.
Australian Scholarship applications open
I finish this article with a notice.
If you want to apply for an Australian Awards Scholarships award for 2021, the application has opened on Feb 1 and will close on March 31.
Visit the AAS-PNG website to find out more about that.
Next week: Adelaide Botanic Gardens and Glenelg Beach
l Thomas Hukahu is a freelance writer.