Adelaide, South Australia… the City of Churches. I had only 36 hours in this place but my schedule was jam-packed!
I settled into what I can only refer to as the Canadian equivalent of “no-tell motel” accommodations. Shabby. No chic. Its patron, a well-past-middle-aged woman, was pinched and terse. I even tried to throw some Canadian-prairie-girl charm her way, but nothing could penetrate that harsh, sphincter-tight veneer. The one redeeming factor of this motel (and its owner for that matter) was that it is nestled in the boutique area of Hyde Park; close to shops, restaurants and cafes. I have to believe that this is the only reason that this motel is the accommodation of choice for the plant breeders and agronomists.
Plant breeders and agronomists in Australia are an interesting lot; not unlike many of their aggie Canadian counterparts. I had the distinction of being only woman amongst this crew as we made our way to the Hyde Park Hotel for dinner and a few pints. These blokes were at times loud and opinionated, but I found them to have a humourous and healthy cynicism towards life and work. They were witty, quick to tease and laugh – overall a really charming bunch that made me feel right at home (even as the lone ‘Sheila’ in the group). We dined on seafood and lamb, exchanging animated quips on topics ranging from plant breeding techniques/strategies to politics to the finer points of cricket (admittedly, I am still a bit lost on this latter bit). I was introduced to common Australian expressions such as “nick off!” and “its your shout!”. ‘Its your shout’ resounded regularly… and I kept up with these chaps – beer after beer, glass of wine after glass of wine. Then I topped all that off with two fingers of Talisker for good measure. Oy.
The Pulse Breeding Australia meetings were held at the University of Adelaide, Waite Campus. Needless to say, after a night of over-imbibing, my liver and my brain were both a bit sluggish the morning of the meetings. Despite this, the germplasm enhancement meetings at the Plant Research Centre were very enlightening. I was the social science ‘thorn’ amongst the scientist/plant breeder ‘roses’; but quite happy to sit quietly and observe.
The Plant Research Centre (photos below) is headquarters to South Australia’s Research and Development Institute (SARDI). It is a stunning facility, built several years ago for the wee cost of $30M AUS (rumoured, not verified – seems to me like it would have been more than that – can you verify @Atomeclectic?). The greenhouses are situated on the top floor while the labs, phytotron, and other resources and facilities are below deck; the entire structure appears to be cut into the side of a rolling hill.
My last night in Adelaide found me exploring new parts of the city, enjoying a wonderful sushi dinner in the good company of F of PBA and B of GRDC. I had met up with and interviewed B at the Crop Updates meetings in Perth the previous week and we arranged to meet this week for dinner in Adelaide. It was so good to sit down with these ladies, in less formal surroundings, and chat about family, travel and work. The evening was finished off with all of us enjoying flat whites and gellato at a nearby coffee shop. What a great way to end my short stay in Adelaide.
Highlights of this leg of the journey: Good fun with plant breeders and agronomists. Seeing a world centre of excellence in ag research and development (University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus and all of its facilities)
Lowlights: Crappy internet connections at shabby, crap motel (thank you Plant Research Centre for letting me tap into your wireless). Missing the festivities of the Adelaide Film Festival and the Adelaide Fringe Festival both, of which, were on while I was there. The slight hangover wasn’t that great either – but worth it… what the heck, the ‘hangover’ will go under “highlights”!