While Adelaide still has a very British feel to it, like most modern Australian cities it is cosmopolitan and multicultural. The surrounding wine region shows the positive effects of waves of immigration from Europe, in particular from Germany, in creating a region where good wine and good food are taken for granted.
Yet, South Australia is not simply a hedonist’s playground – no bad thing in itself, but it also has plenty to nourish the brain as well as the body.
The city has developed a reputation for academic excellence and Adelaide is keen to capitalise on these qualifications. This “Thinking City” is making extensive efforts to capture scientific and medical congresses in particular.
The major project in the city this year has been International Surgical Week, a multi-event programme that brings together 1,400 expert surgeons in various fields to network and exchange experience with their peers.
Organised by the International Society of Surgeons (ISS), this year’s was the organisation’s 43rd congress.
The event had both a scientific and social programme, including numerous specialist wings of the ISS covering disciplines such as digestive surgery, breast surgery and so on, each with their own organising committee and programme.
These events took years to prepare and required patience and tenacity.
Originally bid for back in 1999 by Adelaide Convention Tourism Authority (ACTA) with support from partners – the Adelaide Convention Centre and SAPMEA, a locally based specialist medical events and education organiser, Adelaide was announced as the host city in 2001.
Damien Kitto, ACTA CEO, says: “The very nature of the bidding process is testament to the prestige of hosting this conference. After liaising with our partners, ACTA embarked on an extensive bidding process spanning four years, which included a personal representation by an ACTA team member in Vienna. Ten years on, we’re thrilled to be able to welcome the delegates to Adelaide.”
As a sign of the city’s permanent commitment to the scientific community, Adelaide’s former Stock Exchange has been transformed into the Science Exchange, home of the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus). The Science Exchange is designed to bring science closer to the wider community. The refurbished building will include a 200-seater auditorium and bar, flexible event and exhibition spaces, a members’ resource centre, media centre and office space.
Adelaide’s convention centre and range of five-star hotels will easily satisfy organisers looking for small- to medium-size events in an urban environment. However, it would be a huge mistake to stick to the city limits. Adelaide is also a gateway to some of the southern hemisphere’s greatest wine and food locations, set in beautiful countryside with fascinating small towns.
Just outside the city is Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills, a town settled by German emigrants. They brought their food and wine specialities with them and the towns have a distinctly Teutonic flavour to them in their architecture and cuisine.
Most groups will want to head for the nearby Barossa Valley, which takes its name from a battle at Barrosa, near Cadiz in Spain during the Napoleonic Wars.
The Barossa is home to some of the best-known names in Australian wine, such as Penfolds and the legendary Wolf Blass, a post-war German immigrant who is widely credited with taking Australian wine to new levels of professionalism.
Corporate groups are spoilt for choice here. You can arrange a simple wine-tasting tour, stopping off at different vineyards to sample the various vintages or opt for something more adventurous.
At Penfolds, your team can don white lab coats and enter the blending room. Here you will be given wine samples from three grape varieties: Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre (GSM). Each grape provides a different element and your GSM blend can be subtly adapted to your own palate. Your instructor will offer some advice on which proportions have proven most popular in recent years with consumers but the choice is your own. You have three attempts to work out your favourite blend, and when complete, you can make a final blend to take home in a Penfolds labelled bottle.
As wine drinking has become more popular in Asia, interest in how to appreciate wine and to learn more about the science behind the grape has grown and can provide the elements of a fascinating programme for your group.
Both Penfolds and Wolf Blass wineries have function space and substantial experience in catering to corporate groups.
Another option is Château Tanunda (www.chateautanunda.com). This has a Grand Ballroom which can cater for up to 470 people for sit-down functions. It can also be used for product launches, conferences, dinners and lunches. The Long Room, which offers spectacular views of the Valley, caters for up to 80 people at one grand table or conference style up to 120 people. The small and intimate Château Boardroom can cater for up to 12 people for special degustation dinners, private wine tastings and small meetings.
The Château also offers the opportunity of outdoor events.
The Cricket Oval, provides space for cricket matches, outdoor concerts and other events. In front of the Château is the Château Forecourt for alfresco dining events or product launches. Next to the Cellar Door is the Croquet Green and Terrace for networking or teambuilding.
Nuriootpa is home to one of Australia’s food icons, Maggie Beer (www.maggiebeer.com.au). Run by Beer and her daughters Elli and Saskia, this pheasant farm and farm kitchen can be used for cooking classes, gourmet lunches and dinners and has meeting space for small groups.
Of course, the Barossa offers more than just wine drinking. Event organisers also need to remember that a wine programme will not necessarily suit everyone in their group. Religious and cultural restrictions may make a wine programme inappropriate for some, so always offer an alternative.
The Novotel Barossa Valley Resort, which actually lies next to Jacob’s Creek, can offer treatments at its Endota Spa for both men and women and provides a relaxing option for those who prefer a non-wine alternative. The hotel, set in gorgeous countryside, also has a golf course, tennis facilities and even an archery field for those who would like to combine pampering with some more active physical pursuits.
South Australia provides planners with a wealth of high-end choices in an environment that is laid-back and yet still delivers professional service. Adelaide is certainly a city worth thinking about.
PS Harun, general secretary of Transform World Connection, Singapore, knows Australia well, having studied there for several years.
"Adelaide is a very unique place. Everything (hotels, conference venues, etc) is within walking distance. I was impressed that all parties such as hotels, PCOs and the state government worked together as Team Adelaide. This will give us more confidence and assurance in having the meeting there. Adelaide is a good place to combine meetings and leisure activities at the same time."
Jenny Watson of the LawAustralia secretariat, was delighted by what Adelaide has to offer and the role of the ACTA but less than impressed by her chosen venue for a forthcoming event.
"I enjoyed the Destination SA event (organised by the Adelaide Convention Tourism Authority) as it exposed me to many options in Adelaide. I wish I had been there long before.
"I have an event in Adelaide in October. It will be held at the Hyatt Regency. I'm locked into the Hyatt, which I believe is going to become an InterContinental in the next few weeks. I have been less than happy with the hotel and service to date. The room they want to put us in is 'butt ugly'. It has a pole in the middle of the room, which does not appear on any floor plan.
"We are meant to have our gala dinner in the room which I have now flatly refused. It cannot accommodate us in Blakes, its private dining/function room for the Saturday night, so we have to go to another hotel. Of course, this causes problems of getting everyone there. We are going to have a Tastes of SA dinner in Blakes on the Friday night to fulfil our food and beverage limits in the contract which should be done, but I have not received the menu.
"Adelaide appears to be the wedding capital of the world. And every venue we queried for alternatives was, of course, booked out. So buyer beware. The advertising and amount of exposure SA tourism has done is obviously paying off.
"However, I am looking forward to it, and my husband will be joining me for a holiday to follow."
South Australia has well-established green credentials. The state generates 48 percent of the nation’s wind power and 46 percent of the grid-connected solar energy. The state has the highest uptake of solar hot water in Australia and the lowest carbon footprint per household. Public transport within the city includes electric trams and the world’s first solar-powered bus.
This green trend is also seen in Adelaide’s main purpose-built venue. Alec Gilbert, chief executive of the Adelaide Convention Centre, is proud of his team’s innovative approach to environmental issues.
“We’ve been awarded the Green Globe silver accreditation for our efforts and we have pioneered a number of imaginative solutions for dealing with waste.”
Alongside carbon-offset programmes and the use of recycled paper the centre has created a worm farm. The worms feast on 350kg of organic waste each week and the compost is used to fertilise a nearby garden.
Human beings get fed by the centre too. As part of a corporate social responsibility programme, the centre cooperates with Foodbank South Australia, by processing unused food to provide meals to the needy.
Adelaide has direct connections to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore on Malaysia and Singapore Airlines respectively. However, most Asian cities have connections and code shares via Sydney or Melbourne.
Adelaide enjoys cool winters, hot dry summers and mild weather in autumn and spring.
The authority on visas for Australia is the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, visit www.immi.gov.au
Adelaide Convention Tourism Authority
Perth’s location on the western edge of Australia gives your group room to breathe and explore, writes Kenny Coyle
Perth is closer to Indonesia’s capital Jakarta than Australia’s capital Canberra, a reminder of just how large the country is. It also gives Western Australia a character very different from its eastern coastal cousins.
It’s certainly an internationally recognised city. Perth was recently ranked fifth best destination in the world for business travel by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
The report assessed 140 cities worldwide based on stability, healthcare, education, infrastructure and culture and environment, giving each one a rating out of 100.
Western Australia’s continuing role in mineral production for products such as iron ore, nickel, gold and aluminum, which are in strong demand for the still expanding economies of China, Vietnam and a number of other Asian countries. The state is also rich in natural gas and petroleum.
Perth lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi says: “Perth is a major business destination with great links to the developing economies of Asia.”
Christine McLean, managing director of the Perth Convention Bureau, says that although Perth is a city to do business in, it also offers the “fresh air and open spaces” that are rarely found in many other Asia-Pacific business hubs.
Infrastructure in the city is first-class. The international airport has some regular flights to Asian destinations but is well connected to other Australian cities for connections (see Access in Fast Facts box).
There is a good range of quality accommodation in the five- and four-star categories but organisers should be aware that they will need to book accommodation early as Perth is not suffering from low rates of guestroom occupancy even over the past year although rates are competitive.
Five-star hotels in the city such as the Hyatt Regency, Sheraton Perth and Parmelia Hilton are all busy enough.
The city also has Duxton, Novotel, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn brands, so organisers have plenty of scope for their delegates’ needs and budgets.
Two hotels that have very different attractions at the higher end of the spectrum are the InterContinental Burswood Resort Perth and The Richardson Hotel and Spa.
The Burswood complex hosts both the 405-room InterContinental and a 291-room Holiday Inn with a convention centre, theatre, indoor stadium and a casino.
The Richardson is Perth’s luxury boutique property. This 74-suite hotel can also host exclusive corporate dinners as well as your VIP speakers or high achievers.
For large-scale events, the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre is ideal, holding conferences ranging in size from between 95 and 2,500 delegates.
Fremantle, or Freo to the locals, is an historic port and one still very much alive. The Western Australian economy is ticking along nicely by comparison with other developed economies, boosted by strong demand for its minerals by developing countries such as China. The port is about 20km downstream from Perth.
However, Fremantle isn’t simply a port city but a town with a pronounced bohemian feel. It has preserved its colonial era buildings better than any other comparable city in Australia. The University of Notre Dame occupies a host of restored buildings along its Croke and Henry Streets campus areas that give a real feeling of stepping back a century or so.
Fremantle has also preserved rows and rows of whalers’ cottages although it’s safe to say that property prices have risen substantially since they were last occupied by people of that profession.
The best way to get your team around town is on a Fremantle Tram Tour. Its route will take you round the town up to the Fremantle War Memorial that offers a panoramic view of the city.
The tram will also pass by Cappuccino Strip, a street full of cafes and bistros. Don’t look too hard for a Starbucks outlet though. Despite the whaling connections with Moby Dick, Fremantle has a substantial Italian population and there are no shortage of authentic family-run cafés here.
Another easily accessible destination from Perth, weather permitting, of course, is Rottnest Island. Aside from its beaches the island is an A Class Reserve with a large selection of wildlife, and there are a numbr of restaurants and small hotels.
Dorothy Hu works as a national administration manager for the Chinese arm of a large US-owned insurance company at its Shanghai head office.
Her top agents are no strangers to Australia and have even gone as far afield as Egypt. So finding new destinations that will excite them is a constant challenge.
“Western Australia has a lot of activities and great venues that would suit my group,” Hu says.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA – UNIQUE VENUES
Go for gold
Western Australia’s Gold Rush in the late 19th century saw thousands of men and women descend into the region seeking their fortune in Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie. A lucky few found it.
The Perth Mint was established in 1899, originally as part of the British Mint, and is one of Perth’s listed historic buildings.
Absolutely not to be missed for your event programme is a Gold Pour. Pure gold is heated to molten temperatures and transformed before your eyes into a solid gold bar. The brick walls of the melting house are embedded with gold dust, accumulated over decades of continuous refining.
You can arrange for your high achievers to receive their own specially engraved gold-plated or pure gold medallion with their name and company logo. The Mint’s Grand Foyer, Shop, Boardroom, Dining Room, Melt House and lawn gardens are available for hire and make a perfect backdrop for a Gold Rush-themed evening.
Fremantle Prison was a working institution until 1991 and handled thousands of prisoners over the years. Some of the relics commemorate some of the more barbaric punishments, such as the gallows and the whipping post. The building is intensely atmospheric and can be used to theme events with a difference. Its most popular package is Jailhouse Rock, with live bands and food and drink that is considerably better than previous inmates enjoyed. You can even dress your group in prison uniform for the evening.
Cabaret Cave, Yanchep Natural Park
Situated 50km north of Perth, Yanchep Natural Park provides a good chance to see kangaroos and koalas in this protected environment. Cabaret Cave was converted to an underground function centre in the 1930s, with some major modifications to its structure, including a concrete floor, doors and wall seating. The venue consists of two chambers developed as a supper room and a ballroom opened in 1932.
The Cabaret Cave has been upgraded to hold conferences, seminars, social function or special theme event.
The main chamber is approximately 48m long and up to 12m wide forming the function area within the cave. The second chamber serves as a food preparation/kitchen area.
The cave is serviced with power and water for lighting and catering purposes and is naturally air-conditioned. It has a capacity for 50 to 120 people in banquet style or 200 people (no tables) for cocktails. After dinner, the buffet table is cleared away allowing plenty of room to kick up your heels on the dance floor.
Western Australian Maritime Museum, Fremantle
The Maritime Function Centre, Victoria Quay, in the port of Fremantle provides a stunning water backdrop for your event. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows showcase historic Fremantle Harbour to the north and the pearling lugger Trixen and award-winning Museum Galleries on the southern side.?The Kailis Family Boardroom harbour views and state-of-the-art technology, including electronic whiteboard, DVD, video, large plasma screen TV for your meeting or seminar.?The NWS Shipping Theatre is on the lower level of the Western Australian Maritime Museum. The theatre is equipped with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment and theatrical lighting.
The museum’s link to Western Australia’s fishing and whaling industries and the relics of a bygone era provide a fascinating insight into the history of the state as well as an unusual setting for a maritime themed event.
Loretta De Stefani, Director Business Development- Corporate and Incentives, Perth Convention Bureau
1. Tell us about an unusual or unique venue in Perth and why it's special, is it the view, the atmosphere, history or some other factor that makes it special?
Perth boasts a plethora of unique venues. On any event organiser’s list should be the historic Fremantle Prison and Yanchep National Park's Cabaret Cave.
At Fremantle Prison, guests can combine both team building and a unique dining experience by exploring the maze of underground tunnels and then surfacing for a long table banquet and evening of Jailhouse Rock!
Cabaret Cave is a natural cave situated in a tranquil bush setting. It is visually spectacular for gala dinners and the entertainment will appreciate the sensational acoustics.
2. Do you have any favourite restaurants or bars or nightlife areas that delegates should check out on their own outside the formal programmes?
A visit to Perth would not be complete without dining at Fraser’s Restaurant high above the city in beautiful Kings Park. Waterside venues along the Swan River such as Halo, Matilda Bay and the Old Brewery Grill are also not to be missed.
In the city, the small bar scene is thriving – try Andaluz, Helvetica and Canton for a funky late night hangout.
Head to Fremantle for a laid- back vibe and sample a locally brewed beer at famous Little Creatures Brewery on Fishing Boat Harbour. Or for those that enjoy the finer things in life, Mt Lawley's sophisticated Ellington Jazz Club and Must Wine Bar are well, a must!
3. If there was one thing to do in or around Perth as a group activity, what would it be?
Sailing on the sparkling Swan River. Groups can either recreate the thrill of the America’s Cup Yacht race or sit back, relax and sip on champagne while keeping an eye out for dolphins, pelicans and black swans.
4. If Perth was a person, how would you describe it? How does Perth's personality make it different from other Australian cities?
Perth is friendly, refreshing, engaging and vibrant. Perth’s friendly atmosphere provides visitors with a warm welcome. The fresh environment and clean open spaces give delegates the chance to gain a fresh perspective on business with space to think, breathe and connect.
Perth is linked with regular flights to Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Brunei and Denpasar in Bali, Indonesia.
The summer months are hot with an average temperature of 29 degrees Celsius during the day, and 17 degrees Celsius at night. The warm summer days are cooled down in the afternoon with the “Fremantle Doctor”, a strong sea breeze that blows in from the ocean. The “Doctor” blows away the hot air trapped above the Perth Metropolitan Area and the Darling Ranges. The winter months in Perth are from June to August and are mild.
See the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs. Visit its website at www.immi.gov.au
Perth Convention Bureau