George Town, Malaysia

George Town is the capital of Penang, which was founded in 1786 by Captain Francis Light. 50 years later Adelaide was founded by his son, Colonel William Light, so it was only natural that the two should develop a sister city relationship.

About George Town

Like Adelaide, George Town is steeped in history and proudly preserves it. So much so, in 2008 George Town became a UNESCO Heritage site due to its well preserved cultural and historic heritage.

You’ll notice a strong focus on arts and culture in George Town. Colourful street art is everywhere, particularly in the city centre. Many of the artworks are in 3D, calling for you to interact with it. There is now a tourism trail developed specifically for street art.

Similar to Adelaide, George Town has a distinctive food scene. Influenced by the Chinese-Malay culture and surrounding abundance of spices, you can choose from high-class dining to street food and hawker stalls at night markets. When it all gets too much, George Town is only 30 minutes from beautiful beaches.

How the relationship began

Recognising Australia, and Adelaide’s increasing connection with its neighbours in the Asia Pacific regions, in 1972 the then Premier of South Australia, the Honourable Don Dunstan, suggested that the City of Adelaide should consider establishing links with George Town in Penang, Malaysia.

On 19 February 1973, the City of Adelaide proposed the establishment of a Sister City relationship with George Town. This was adopted on 8 December 1973, when Dr Lim Chong Eu, the then Chief Minister of Penang signed the agreement. Today the relationship continues to foster business, sporting, cultural and tourism opportunities.


In March parts of Adelaide were, for a week, transformed into colourful corners of Malaysia, as the city celebrated North Malaysia week.

In April, the President of the Penang Council visited Adelaide. They were accompanied by a contingency of 80 from George Town.

340 citizens of Penang visited Adelaide, injecting over $500,000.00 into the city’s economy.

28 dragon boat competitors from Penang visited Adelaide for the Dragon Boat Championships.

Following the success of the South Australian television show "Postcards," a segment called "Postcards from George Town" was produced.

Malaysian Airlines introduced direct flights from Adelaide to Malaysia, as well as an increase in the number of flights. These flights resulted in a significant increase in visitation between Adelaide and Malaysia, and a significant increase in the amount of produce (particularly fruit and vegetables) and commodities being exported from Adelaide to Penang.

The City of Adelaide and George Town, Penang celebrated the 45th anniversary of their sister city relationship. In July, a delegation from Adelaide visited Penang. In September, a delegation from Penang Global Tourism visited Adelaide, meeting with City of Adelaide officials to discuss collaborations in cultural exchange.

In November 2019, George Town hosted the second annual ASEAN-Australia Education Dialogue. As George Town’s sister-city, the City of Adelaide was a sponsor of the event.
The Dialogue provided an opportunity for thought leaders, key government officials, business representatives and education practitioners from ASEAN and Australia, to come together to share ideas, build connections, and identify new regional opportunities.

Find out more about George Town