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South Australia, Australia

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South Australia is just that. The state overlooks the Great Australian Bight (or Bite, because it is a section of coastline that looks like somebody has taken a big bite out of Australia) and is shaped like a large square block cut out of the middle bit of southern mainland Australia. Settled mostly by European pioneers, it has a large German, Dutch and Irish heritage. Towns throughout the state are either small pockets out in the desert (but not too many because this is where a lot of testing with things that go 'boom' is done - the main one being at a place called Woomera) or all along the coast - where fishing, surfing and whale-watching are popular pastimes.

One of the proudest facts the state holds on to is that it was the second place in the world, after New Zealand, to grant universal suffrage (that is, to allow everyone including women to vote) in 1894. This forward-thinking can probably be attributed to the fact that most crow-eaters1 are keen to get on with things - and hang the consequences. They did, however, somewhat spoil this good move by taking away the right to vote from Native Australians (Aborigines) in 1902.

The capital of South Australia is Adelaide, a very quiet and slow-paced city that is most famous for its high percentage of churches, almost severe drinking laws, but quite Dutch-like regulations concerning cannabis (in comparison to the other states of Australia). It can be inferred thus that many people from Adelaide are quite religious, enjoy a tipple when they can, and are very mellow, or extremely paranoid, most of the time. Of course, this is a sweeping generalisation. Many South Australians are hard-working types who like a good hearty meal and telling a tall-tale or two when given the opportunity. Despite the aforementioned drinking laws, the Adelaide Hills are home to some fine wineries, which is probably the limit of the capital's tourist appeal, ever since the Formula One Grand Prix left for Melbourne. So it's not Adelaide really, more the surrounding countryside, that attracts anyone to South Australia.

The state has much to see. Off the coast, sitting in the Great Australian Bight, is the small Kangaroo Island, which has many native animals and no introduced wildlife. It is a sanctuary as such, and apparently the only rabbit to be found there is in a cave - a stalactite is shaped like one!

The Coorong, a stretch of land along the coastline from Victoria to Adelaide, is another natural wonder where you can camp and enjoy what the seaside has to offer - from cool Antarctic blasts of wind through to thieving pelicans.

On the other side of Adelaide is the Nullarbor Plain, a very flat, empty area with a long and straight road - popular with motorcyclists and truck drivers.

For those with more esoteric tastes, you can see the Big Lobster, the Big Rocking Horse, or even (perhaps a little bizarrely) an almost completely unchanged German 'pioneer' village - Hahndorf2.

Then there's the wineries. Not to be outdone by Victorian wines, the Coonawarra, Barossa and Clare Valley regions are home to some spot-on drops.

Food-wise, South Australian delicacies are either based on good old-fashioned German home cooking or seafood. Lobsters and many other crustaceans are popular, as are deep-sea fish. Along the coast fisheries are big business, while inland cattle or horse ranches are run by jackeroos and jilleroos a-plenty.

South Australia is perhaps the only place in Oz to get a true surf 'n' turf-style meal, with steak and lobster sitting side by side on a plate. The only other gastronomic delight that South Australia is famous for is the 'pie floater' - a meat pie delicately placed so it is floating in a bowl of mushy green pea soup. Mmmmm. So, South Australia is the kind of state with something for everyone: desert, churches, Oktoberfest, floating pies and pelicans.

Just be careful if you discuss the 'Crows' (Adelaide's Aussie Rules team). The locals can be a bit touchy about them, as some years they're either very, very good or very, very bad.

1Slang term for a South Australian.2Many towns in South Australia lost their original names during the First World War, so high was the anti-German sentiment.

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