Norwood – The Inner East with a Bit of Class

(pic - Story) Norwood - Title

It was Christmas Eve and since I had finished work early I grabbed an old friend and decided to go and explore the suburbs to the east of Adelaide, especially since it had been quite a while since I had ventured down this way (and that there were a number of pubs that I also wished to visit, and catalogue). Being daylight saving (and the middle of summer – well not really, but Christmas is supposed to be on the summer solstice, at least here in Australia) it mean that we were going to have a lot more time, or at least daylight, to be able to explore. Unfortunately there doesn’t happen to be any trains that head out this way (so no train videos unfortunately), but we were able to make most of our way by foot, at least for the most part – we caught a bus to the first pub.

Anyway, here is a map of the route we took:

(pic - Story) Norwood - Map

The numbers are the pubs that we visited – there was an 11th one (the Brittania Hotel) but that is just off the map. Anyway, this is the key:

  1. Royal Kent Town Hotel
  2. The Kent Town Hotel (though it is known as the Jungle Bar)
  3. The Maid and Magpie
  4. The Alma
  5. The Avenues
  6. The Mayfield
  7. The Republic
  8. The Bath
  9. Finn McCool’s Irish Pub
  10. The Colonist
  11. The Britannia (which is a little off the Map).

Kent Town

We started our trek at the Royal Kent Town Hotel, which was actually a fairly nice and quiet place to begin our journey. Mind you there wasn’t anything hugely fantastic about this place, though it did have a nice beer garden. However since it was pretty hot outside we relegated ourselves to the sports bar. I do remember it being a lot more lively in the past, however it seems as if those days are long gone and it is now just one of those quiet bars at the edge of the city.

We then made our way through Kent Town, which I have to admit seems to be a light industrial area with a few old houses and businesses. Actually we first made our way along North Terrace where you pass by one of Adelaide’s exclusive schools -St Peters, which is supposed to be the Anglican Collage. Nearby you have Prince Alfred College, and not surprisingly there is a huge amount of rivalry between the two. Actually, I knew quite a few boys that went to St Peters (namely because Anglican ministers get huge discounts if they send their children there) and I won’t repeat some of the names they referred to their rival.

Shortly we found ourselves at the Kent Town Hotel. Years ago this place was known as The Tap Inn, namely because of the wall at the entrance that was full of taps (all of them with water flowing). It also had a huge golf theme, which included a driving range out the back and a mini-golf course on the roof. However things changed and when we stepped in here for a beer I discovered that it was now a jungle themed pub. Mind you that sort of made it somewhat similar to the Ovingham Hotel, which is also known as the Bombay Bicycle Club. Mind you they are owned by the same person so I guess he can do what he likes with his pubs. Once again it was pretty quite. However, there was one thing that I thought was really cool (and something that I haven’t seen in either Sydney or Melbourne – which is surprising) and that is a screen that lists all of the beers on tap and includes the colour, the percentage of alcohol, and even cooler, how much was left in the barrel.

(pic - Story) Norwood - Jungle Bar Screen

After spending quite sometime exploring the place (and remember the times when we used to all pile down here on a Thursday night – the pit is still there by the way) we then made our way towards out next destination, which involved walking past some more businesses, and old terrace houses – and this was the Maid and Magpie Hotel. Mind you, I’ve always like the intersection where it is located, so I took a few photos before heading into the pub.

Well, it seems like the Maid and Magpie has changed quite a lot since I was last here. I remember when it was basically a pretty quiet hotel but it seems as if the crowds that used to flock to the Old Kent Town have now made their way up here. The placed was packed, but at least we managed to find a seat where we could have our beers. While one could argue that the reason it was packed was because it was Christmas Eve, I would probably point out that there were nowhere near as many people in the last two pubs we had visited. However, to capitalise on its new found popularity, they had fenced off a part of the carpark (closest to the pub of course) thrown a heap of sand across the ground, set up some tents (and a DJ) and called it a beach party).

Maybe we have grown a bit too old for some of these really popular pubs, or maybe we actually don’t like pushing through people while holding a drink (or they are doing the same) so after we finished our beers we headed off to our next destination).

Stepney

While Google Maps suggests that this part of Adelaide is actually St Peters – it isn’t – St Peters ends along Payneham Road – this part of Adelaide is actually Stepney. I ought to know because I worked at an engineering firm for about a year. Okay, maybe I should have made more of an effort to learn from this job, however the reality was that I wanted to spend more time with my friends (and I was a pretty bad employee as well). However, if I could go back in time and pass a message on to myself (which I would no doubt ignore anyway) it wouldn’t be to make more of an effort at this job, it would be to not waste my time playing computer games, but learn how to program them, and to take advantage of friends who also had such an interest – and not waste my time chasing tail.

Our next stop was the Alma Tavern, which was also fairly quiet, but still a pretty decent pub. In fact it was the beer garden that was really cool, and we could have spent the rest of the evening here, if it wasn’t for the fact that there were other places to visit. Mind you, one of the staff tried selling us tickets to go into a draw for a free beer, and while free beer is never a bad thing, unfortunately there were a few more places that I wished to visit, and not a huge amount of time in which to do it, so we made our way onwards.

Which took me past my old workplace (which was intentional). Mind you, I seemed to have a much greater understanding of what they did now than I did when I was working there. Well, I actually did know what was going on, but I guess the knowledge that one accumulates with age helps one understand things better. Anyway, what that did was that they would automate systems, usually on an industrial scale. In fact they were one of the companies at the forefront of automation technologies (or so they said, but then again no company ever claims to be second-best – they are always the best – you don’t succeed otherwise, though at time time I was a little surprised that every company I worked for would sell ‘the best’ product).

The workplace was across the road from a park, which I traversed every so often when I wanted to have some lunch down at the local shopping centre. Nothing much had changed in the park, as far as I could remember, but it was still a nice walk down memory lane. Anyway, that took us to the Avenues Shopping Centre (which is a bit of a classy establishment, but then again it is in the inner city) and the Avenues Tavern, which I have to admit doesn’t come anywhere close to the class that the shopping centre has (they don’t even have craft beer on tap).

So we continued on our way, and this time through the backstreets of Stepney (or is it Maylands – I’m not sure) to a pub that is basically hidden out of site of the local population – the Maylands Hotel. This seems to have the class that the Avenues seems to lack, and I do remember coming here a number of years ago to watch a football game with some friends. I’m not sure how the game turned out, or whether the team that I wanted to win (which was the one playing the Crows) won, but I do remember teaching some girls how to kick a football. Anyway, we went out to the beer garden (which is technically not a beer garden because you can’t take your beers out there – though we did), spent a little time here and then continued on our trek.

You might have noticed that I have put up a number of pictures of houses. Well, that is because I have grown to admire some of the older buildings well, everywhere, and after spending a lot of time wandering the backstreets of Northcote and Fitzroy, I wanted to see what the older houses in Adelaide looked like. Well, they are built, in most cases, on larger blocks of land, and aren’t squashed up nearly as much as those in the larger cities. That probably has a lot to do with the smaller population that Adelaide always seems to have had (it was a city built on farming, unlike Melbourne, which was built on a mountain of gold).

We headed towards the Republic Hotel (which I have to say wasn’t that crash hot – with the exception of this alcove where you could have a private meal with a few friends) along Magill Road. As we were walking along (as the sun was setting in the horizon) I walked past the old Maylands Tram Depot. This was quite interesting because I didn’t realise that any of the old tram depots still existed. Okay, I have already written a piece on the Adelaide Tram network, but it was still cool to see that this old building still remained. Mind you, Magill Road use to have a tram line running up the centre (which is not surprising because there is a tram depot on it).

Norwood

So, after leaving the Republic Hotel after another quiet beer (yes, I know, that’s seven beers so far, but I assure you that I was still very compous-mentus) we made our way into Norwood. The Republic happens to be next to Norwood Bowls, one of the few bowling alleys in Adelaide. I have found myself here a few times, and usually, but not always, end up at the Republic for a beer afterwards. So, we crossed Osborne Terrace, which is a road with a really wide medium strip, and headed into the back streets, where I took a few more photos. Mind you, one of the owners busted me taking a photo of her house and was a little perplexed, until I pointed out that I wasn’t some developer – just a guy who likes old houses. Anyway, there was a use for these photos – this blog.

Well, that was the last of our treks through the back streets as we then stepped out onto the Parade. The Parade is one of Adelaide’s major cafe strips, at least between Osborne Terrace and Portrush Road. It’s also a fairly classy part of Adelaide, but then Norwood has always had a bit of class about it. It isn’t really an inner-city hipster abode (I’m not sure if there is a suburb that you could ascribe to that, though I suspect that Norwood may end up that way in the not too distant future). I used to come here regularly, namely because friends would always come and watch a movie at the cinemas there. Mind you, it’s is a little annoying late at night because the only way to get here without a car is by bus, and buses are never the most reliable of public transport options.

Anyway, I wandered up towards Portrush Road, where I took some photos of the old post office (I believe – I always thought it was the town hall, but that is a little further down), the old church, and the water tower, before heading to our next pub – The Bath Hotel.

I have to say that the Bath Hotel was absolutely packed – but then again that’s not all that surprising because it has always been a really popular place. In fact I’ve been here a number of times, which included a work Christmas lunch. It’s a pretty decent place, and they have even opened a pizzeria – craft beer bar in the adjacent building. Mind you, the one thing that they don’t have is Coopers Ale on tap. This was surprising because pretty much every pub has Coopers Pale Ale on tap, but I suspect that there may have been some dispute, or contractual issues, that meant they weren’t able to offer it.

It was now starting to get dark, but there was still enough time to complete our adventure, so we headed down the Parade to the next pub – Finn McCools. However due to the fact that it would soon be dark, I continued on, namely because I wanted to get a photo of the oval before it was too late. Norwood Oval is one of the larger ovals in Adelaide and is home to the Norwood Football Club – aka the Redlegs. Mind you, they still have a pretty large supporter base, but what I really like is the oval.

In fact, while coming down here I made another discovery – next to the oval is where one of Adelaide’s last Presbyterian Churches is located. When the Uniting Church formed in the mid-70s a number of Presbyterian Churches refused to come to the party, and basically voted to retain their autonomy – you wouldn’t know this living in South Australia, especially where the narrative is that the Presbyterian Church is a relic of a bygone age. Well, from what I see in Melbourne, this is just blatantly not true. Still, all but a few churches in the South-east, and a couple in the city, ended up joining the Uniting Church in South Australia.

Night Falls

Well, that was going to be the end of my outdoor photos, but we still had a couple of more pubs to visit. The first was Finn McCools, which I have to admit has this really cool room that has a number of replica shop fronts on the wall. Mind you the pub isn’t that crash hot, especially since the options available on tap are minimal. They do have an outdoor area, but it’s like on the side of the road, but we had our beer and then headed towards the Colonialist Tavern.

It was now starting to get late, but it was clear that the party was still in full swing at the Colonialist. I haven’t actually been here all that much, but it certainly seemed to be a pretty popular pub. The only other time I came here was some friends decided to have a boys night out – which meant no girls. I simply liked the idea of checking out a pub that I had never visited before. However after another beer (and I wasn’t staggering around, despite the fact that that was number 10, though we were only drinking pots/schooners/midis (aka small ones) for a number of reasons – one of them being that we could make it to the end.

(pic - Story) Norwood - Colonist

It was getting dark now, and this was certainly the case when we arrived at the final hotel – the Brittannia. Mind you, I’m not sure if the pub is called the Brittania because of the name of this notoriously painful intersection, or whether it is the other way round (I suspect the other way round because, most likely, the pub pre-dated the intersection). Anyway, the pub was pretty quiet, so it was a decent way to finish off the night.

(pic - Story) Norwood - Britannia Hotel

However it wasn’t the end of the night, namely because my friend decided that we should walk back to the station, as opposed to catching a cab. This meant trekking through the parklands, which isn’t something that is recommended, especially at night. Still, I like a challenge, and wandering through semi-native parkland, with eucalyptus trees towering about you, is a bit of an experience. Still we managed to arrive at the end of Rundle Street without too much trouble, and then made our way to the railway station, where we had our final beer at the casino, and I ended up catching a horrible cab-ride home (no wonder people are flocking to Uber – especially if you have cabbies like the one I hand, who simply had to argue with me all the way home).

 

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Norwood – The Inner East with a Bit of Class by David Alfred Sarkies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you wish to use this work commercially please feel free to contact me.


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