The Most Amazing Facts About Adelaide and South Australia


Farmers Union Iced Coffee

Statistics from 2008 show that Famers Union Iced Coffee (FUIC) outsold Coca-Cola at a ratio of almost 3:1 in South Australia. South Australia is the only place worldwide where the phenomenon of a milk drink outselling a cola product occurs. It is quite remarkable that it not only occurs in South Australia but by such a significant margin. The only other locations that Cola products are outsold by other drinks are in Peru (Inca Kola) and in Scotland (Irn-Bru.)

Farmer's Union Iced Coffee


The amount of FUIC drunk each year in South Australia equates to about 22.5 litres per resident of South Australia. Such is the prevalence of FUIC in South Australia, that the locally produced third edition of the Mitsubishi Magna had square cup holders to hold FUIC. It should be noted that Mitsubishi does own FUIC.


Hungry Jack’s vs Burger King

Have you ever wondered why there is a dearth of Burger King restaurants in Australia yet an abundance of the similarly marketed Hungry Jack’s? During the 1970s, Jack Cowin attempted to create Burger King restaurants in Australia. Unfortunately for Cowin, the Burger King name had already been trademarked in 1962 by a single takeaway restaurant in Adelaide (see image.) This was located on the corner of Anzac Highway and Leader Street in Everard Park and would later expand to 17 restaurants across Australia. In 1962, the name Burger King belonged to a fairly tiny yet burgeoning burger chain located in America. By the time that the American Burger King stores wanted to expand into Australia, they were unable to use the Burger King name due to trademark.

The original Burger King on Anzac Highway


There is more to this winding and often confusing Burger King/Hungry Jack’s dichotomy however the essence of the fact is that Burger King originally couldn’t expand into Australia due to the trademark on the name by a restaurant on Anzac Highway.


The Third Most Expensive Building in the World

The new Royal Adelaide Hospital, upon completion, will be the third most expensive building in the world, at a cost of $2.7billion Australian. The only buildings that have cost more money to produce have been the One World Trade Centre in New York and Romanian dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu’s Palace of the Parliament. The new Royal Adelaide Hospital will also set the record for being the largest building in Australia ever built in terms of floor space.

New Royal Adelaide hospital


The second most expensive building built in Australia is also found in Adelaide and surprisingly is the Myer Centre building. Peculiarly, the Myer Centre building is the equal 12th most expensive building in the world. Another source lists the Gold Coast University hospital as the 2nd most expensive building in Australia. It should be noted that the list of the most expensive buildings in the world takes into account currency movements and only includes building that were built since 1976.

Myer Centre Building


Adelaide Famous in Iran

As bizarre as it seems, obscure Adelaide landmarks are well known in Iran. A Japanese anime TV series titled, ‘Lucy of the Southern Rainbow’ was produced in Japan in the 1980s. It was based on the book ‘Southern Rainbow’ written by Australian author Phyllis Piddington. The story tells of a girl called Lucy and her travails as she moves with her family from England to Adelaide. The TV show was dubbed into multiple languages including; Arabic, French, German, Italian, Persian and Spanish. The TV show was very well received in Iran and considered a staple of growing up. It was known by the name ‘Immigrants’ in Iran. Across the 50 episode series, countless Adelaide landmarks are mentioned from the Post Office clock in the CBD right through to Glenelg and Colonel William Light. It is extraordinary to think of a large portion of the Iranian population being aware of humble Adelaide’s landmarks!

Lucy of the Southern Rainbow


Some enthusiastic Japanese fans of ‘Lucy of the Southern Rainbow’ have written a translated synopsis of each episode at the bottom of this link. 


Largest in the Southern Hemisphere

  • The Adelaide Christmas Pageant is the largest Christmas parade in the southern hemisphere. An estimated 400,000 people gathered along the parade route in 2015 to watch the floats and other entertainment. Amazingly, this is equivalent to approximately one in every three residents of Adelaide attending the event. The Adelaide Christmas Pageant was inspired by the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Toronto Santa Claus Parade.

Adelaide Christmas Pageant.jpg


  • The largest cinema complex in the southern hemisphere is located at Westfield Marion. This Event Cinemas site at Marion features 26 screens.

Westfield Marion Cinema


  • This isn’t a ‘largest’ in the southern hemisphere but an ‘only’ in the southern hemisphere. The only giant pandas in the southern hemisphere are housed at the Adelaide Zoo. They are named Wang Wang and Fu Ni. There are only 7 other giant panda exhibits in the world.

Wang Wang and Funi


  • The Adelaide Central Market is the largest fresh produce market that is undercover in the southern hemisphere.

Adelaide Central Market


  • The Adelaide Fringe Festival is the largest arts festival in the southern hemisphere and second largest worldwide.

Adelaide Fringe Festival


  • The Bicentennial Conservatory is the largest single span glasshouse in the southern hemisphere. It measures 100 metres in length, 47 metres in width and 27 metres in height. The Bicentennial Conservatory is located in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens.



  • The Adelaide Botanic Gardens are also home to the oldest glasshouse in the southern hemisphere- the palm house. The palm house was imported from Bremen, Germany to Adelaide in 1875. The uniqueness of the palm house is emphasised by the fact that it is thought to be the only Victorian glasshouse of its type in the world.

Palm House


The Royal Adelaide Show

The Royal Adelaide Show is thought to hold the world record for the most number of times a show has been held in the world. The Royal Adelaide Show has even surpassed the number of shows held by the ‘Royal Bath and West England Society’ which was founded in 1777. In 2015, the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society held its 240th Royal Adelaide Show. The first show was held in the yard of a pub in Grenfell Street in the year 1840. For many years the show was held in spring and autumn which is why 240 shows have been held across 176 years. The Royal Adelaide Show is the biggest event in South Australia and is attended by around 500,000 people each year.

The Royal Adelaide Show


Stobie Poles

The iconic South Australian Stobie poles are poles consisting of two steel beams filled in with concrete. They serve the purpose of holding up power lines and are essentially a replacement for wooded power poles. Invented in 1924 by James Stobie, the poles were created to thwart South Australia’s problem of limited timber supplies as well as to avoid the common problem of termite infestations. Originally, large holes were placed in the stobie poles (see the left pole on the image below) however they are now filled in with concrete (image below, on the right.)

Stobie Poles


At Angle Park, the SA Power Network facility remains the sole manufacturer of the poles in the world, producing 20-40 per day. There are estimated to be a massive 725,000 stobie poles in South Australia, equating to about one pole per two residents of the state. There exists a sprinkling of stobie poles outside of South Australia, located in; Broken Hill, Tasmania, Darwin and remote Western Australia settlements. Despite this, stobie poles are somewhat a symbol of the state and considered quintessentially South Australian.


Port River Dolphins

Adelaide is the place in the world where wild dolphins live closest to the metropolitan area of a city. There are thought to be over 300 individual dolphins that visit the Port River, located just a 20 minute drive from the Adelaide CBD. The Fremantle Port Harbour in Western Australia also houses dolphins although this is further from the CBD of Perth. Outside of the Fremantle Harbour and Port River, there are no other metropolitan areas in the world with wild dolphins. The dolphins that frolic in the Port River have become renowned for ‘tail walking.’ This phenomenon involves the dolphin leaping out of the water and propelling itself backwards whilst remaining vertical. The Port River dolphins are the only wild dolphins in the world that have mastered ‘tail walking.’ A video of the Port River dolphins performing this feat can be seen below.


The Southern Expressway

The Southern Expressway, starting and finishing on Main South Road was the world’s longest reversible one-way freeway. At 21 kilometres in length, it was completed in 1997. Up until 2014, the expressway was open for 10 hours in one direction then 10 hours in the opposite direction. While the Southern Expressway was being built and for many years after it was opened, a specific FM radio station, created by the Department of Transport could be picked up by cars in the vicinity. The radio station consisted of promotional material and community information pertaining to the expressway. The broadcasts also featured a theme song for the expressway which prompted the then transport minister to claim is was the only road in the world to have its own jingle. Since August 2014, the Southern Expressway has been made two-way, relinquishing the title of the world’s longest reversible one-way freeway.

Southern Expressway real


The O-Bahn

Another Adelaide oddity is the O-Bahn. The O-Bahn connecting the city with the north-eastern suburbs is one of only two O-Bahn’s in the world. The O-Bahn is essentially a system by which a normal bus that drives on the road is then able to drive on a specialised purpose built track just for buses. Adelaide’s O-Bahn is also the world’s second longest guided busway at 12 kilometres in length. The Adelaide O-Bahn originally held the world record as the world’s longest guided busway until the Cambridgeshire guided busway opened in 2011 at 25 kilometres in length.



There are some well thought out contingencies in place regarding accidents on the Adelaide O-Bahn. A specifically designed vehicle by the name Dumbo is used along the Adelaide O-Bahn in instances of buses breaking down. There are also numerous signs to warn cars that they are not permitted on the O-Bahn tracks. A ‘Sump buster’ is also in place that is designed to rip a car’s oil pan out if it mistakenly gets onto the O-Bahn tracks. Despite this, a tourist managed to travel 2 kilometres along the O-Bahn in 2007. Each year there are 4 cars on average that gain access onto the O-Bahn tracks and require removal by a crane.


Ediacaran Period

Reginald Sprigg was working for the South Australian government in 1946 with the aim of finding abandoned mines that could be reused. He was searching the Ediacaran Hills in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia. What Sprigg discovered was fossils of the earliest complex organisms on earth. In essence, Sprigg found the beginning of visible life on earth. This caused a paradigm shift in the field of evolutionary biology as no evidence of life had been found before the famous era of the Cambrian explosion of life.

Ediacaran Fossil


Other Precambrian fossils had been found before Sprigg’s discovery however they weren’t organic. In 2004, the first new geological period in 120 years was named as the Ediacaran period after the hills in South Australia that Sprigg found his fossils. Many of Sprigg’s fossils are currently on display at the South Australian museum yet most people walk past them without a glance. Reginald Sprigg also helped found the large oil and gas company- SANTOS.


Anna Creek Station

Anna Creek Station, located relatively near Coober Pedy, is the world’s largest working cattle station. Originally the station held sheep however dingo attacks caused them to switch their focus to cattle. The size of Anna Creek Station is put simply- enormous. At 6 million acres in size, it is larger than the country of Israel. It is also larger than 10 European countries including; Slovenia, Montenegro, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta. The second largest cattle station in the world, Alexandria Station in the Northern territory is almost 2 million acres smaller than Anna Creek Station. Anna Creek Station is more than 7 times larger than the USA’s largest ranch. Interestingly, light aircraft are used on Anna Creek Station to spot animals that need rounding up.

Anna Creek Station


Shot by a Camel

The man who introduced the first camel into Australia was shot by his camel. John Horrocks came to South Australia in 1839. He was one of the very early settlers of the Clare Valley, established the first vineyard in this region and established the town of Penwortham, 10 kilometres south of Clare. Horrocks was the first person to bring a camel into Australia and used it as an exploration aid. The camel named Harry arrived at Port Adelaide in 1840. On one of his exploration trips, the camel attacked the expedition’s cook- biting a large chunk out of his head.  A few days later, Horrocks was planning to shoot a bird at Lake Dutton, 100 kilometres north of Port Augusta. Horrocks wrote, “The camel gave a lurch to one side, and caught his pack in the cock of my gun, which discharged the barrel I was unloading.” The bullet removed the middle finger on his right hand and a row of his teeth. As a result of being shot by his camel, Horrocks ordered that the camel also be shot. Approximately a month after being shot by his camel, Horrocks passed away from the consequential gangrene.

 John Horrocks


Part 2: ‘More Amazing Facts About Adelaide and South Australia’ can be found here.


I’ve also written some other articles covering amazing Adelaide:

‘49 Entertaining Things to do in Adelaide’ can be found here.

‘51 Free Things to do in Adelaide’ can be found here.

‘The 20 Most Famous People who have Lived in Adelaide’ can be found here.



  1. An Interesting read.

    However, the section on the O-Bahn. Sorry, I had to laugh at that one.

    “The O-Bahn connecting the city with the north-eastern suburbs is one of only two O-Bahn’s in the world.”

    followed by

    “Adelaide’s O-Bahn is also the world’s second longest guided busway”

    So then, doesn’t that make it the world’s shortest O-Bahn? 🙂

    Also, regarding Stobie Poles. There’s a row of them (11) at Bundalaguah in Gippsland, Victoria. They’re all fitted with red enamel SEC DANGER HT signs that were used in the 1950s and 60s. I took photos of them last week.

    1. @Darren H
      Thanks for the comment! Regarding the O-Bahn, I can now see how it reads that it is one of two in the world- almost ironically the second longest, yet shortest! It reminds me of the question pertaining to finding the “smallest giant.” I think there is however a distinction between O-Bahns and guided busways. O-Bahns belong to a subset of guided busways. The only other ‘Bahn’ in the world is the U-Bahn in Essen Germany (which is shorter than the Adelaide O-Bahn). There are however many guided busways in the world, perhaps dozens including many in the UK, some in Eastern Asia and Eastern Europe.

      Thanks for the info about the stobie poles in Bundalaguah, that is interesting to read. It is nice to think that something symbolically South Australian has made its way to Victoria (that hasn’t been stolen like the Grand Prix!)

  2. Burger King was quite an experience with waitresses on roller skates taking orders and then delivering them on trays that were attached to the window frame in the car door

  3. Here are some more. Amscol Ice Cream, Golden North Ice Cream, Haighs Chocolates, Ditters and Charlesworth Nuts. The Adelaide Railway Station. In the 1950’s the best capital city station in Australia.

  4. Pity you didnt cover items that were invented in South Australia or by South australians new and old like WIFI, Hills Hoist, Tanks, Sunscreen,cask wine electro-encephalograph, humicrib just to name a few

    1. I have almost finished writing a sequel to this post regarding more interesting facts about Adelaide and S.A. In it I write about tanks, sunscreen, cask wine and mention the Hills Hoist. I found one source (the insidesouthaustralia website) stating that John O’Sullivan was South Australian. I’ve been unable to verify this anywhere else. Do you have any more information about this? Cheers

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