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Australia is one of the gay-friendliest countries in the world, making it easy for gay and lesbian travelers to enjoy a vacation Down Under and not having to hide their sexuality or relationship. On the contrary – all of Australia’s major cities have a number of LGBT venues and gay and lesbian travelers can also enjoy the nightlife while they are visiting Australia’s vibrant cities. It’s always fun to check out the ‘local scene’ while traveling, so here are some good bars and parties you shouldn’t miss while in Australia:
Melbourne is one of the gay-friendliest cities in Australia, and there is an abundance of choices for a good night out. But this vibrant city, always battling with Sydney for the title of the coolest city in Australia, should be on everyone’s itinerary when visiting the country – if you need more convincing, check out these 40 cool things to do in Melbourne.
One highlight in the gay & lesbian calendar in Melbourne is the Midsumma Festival, which features more than 150 events, ranging from performance art to wild dance parties, over the course of three weeks, leading up to the Gay Pride parade. The festival usually takes place from mid-January to early February and it’s well worth planning your trip around it – Melbourne’s Midsumma is considered not only one of the biggest LGBT celebrations in Australia, but in the entire world!
In addition to our recommendations, check Time Out Melbourne for up-to-date information on LGBT events.The gay night life primarily takes place in the city center, in St Kilda and in Collingwood. LGBT institutions include:
The Greyhound Hotel
Greyhound Hotel is famous for its Saturday night drag show and King Victoria Drag Kings & Bitch Fridays. Check their schedule to see which events are on while you’re in town.
Address: 1 Brighton Road, St Kilda
Libation is one of the more sophisticated LGBT venues, an exquisite lounge for a more low key night out. Libation is open seven days a week.
Address: Corner of Johnson and Brunswick Streets, Fitzroy
Sydney is, together with Melbourne, the most popular tourist destination for gay and lesbian travelers in Australian, but it has one draw that Melbourne doesn’t have: Mardi Gras. Sydney has even been proclaimed ‘gayest city on earth‘ thanks to its Mardi Gras extravaganza, gay beaches and large number of gay bars – a mecca for LGBT travelers who want to get to know Australia’s queer culture. Sydney’s Mardi Gras is Australia’s biggest LGBT tourism event, attracting nearly 500,000 spectators. Not only the parade is a massive event – the after party, usually lined with international performers, is one of the largest parties in the country. For many LGBT travelers who travel to international Pride Events, Mardi Gras is on top of their list. Take a look for yourself – The Guardian covered this year’s festivities with a large photo essay.
Sydney is also known for its Queer Film Fest.
The gay area of Sydney used to be located around Oxford Street, however, in recent years, gay venues have ventured outside of this area and can be found in other parts of town as well.
Palms has been a Sydney institution for decades, plays mainly pop and mainstream music and yes, it is a little tacky, but it makes for a fun night out.
Address: 124 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst
At Stonewall, you have entertainment seven days a week, from gogo show to drag queens – there is always something going on here.
Address: 175 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst
Tripadvisor has a great overview for LGBT travelers, including more bars and clubs and gay-friendly places to stay in Sydney.
Brisbane has a vibrant LGBT community, with an annual Pride Festival that takes places in September of each year and attracts 50,000 people, and a number of gay and lesbian parties.
There are only a few gay bars in Brisbane, and worth a visit are:
The Beat Megaclub
(six different dance floors and five bars)
Address: 677 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley
The Sportsman Hotel
(gay-friendly hotel, bar and nightclub
Address: 130 Leichhardt Street, Spring Hill
Perth has a rather small LGBT scene, but the Connections gay nightclub is the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights. The club is open Wednesday through Sundays, and if you want to see something rather unusual, why not check out Lesbian Mud Wrestling on Wednesday night?
Address: 81 James St. Northbridge
Another popular venue is the Court Hotel (50 Beaufort Street).
For other parties and happenings, check out the very informative OutInPerth.com.
Adelaide’s LGBT community is rather small and there is only one gay nightclub:
The Mars Bar
The Mars bar is a must-visit for LGBT travelers to Adelaide – here’s where the local gay and lesbian scene gathers from Wednesday to Saturday night, and where you can catch a drag show or just dance the night away.
Address: 120 Gouger Street, Adelaide
Cairns has no specific gay and lesbian bars, but a number of gay-friendly venues, and a monthly gay party organized by OUT! Cairns. Check their website for the date of the next party.
Good nightlife spots include Velvet Underground (the biggest nightclub in Cairns) and Salthouse.
Cairns’ Pride is relatively new on Australia’s Pride Calendar, only in its 9th year, but steadily growing. If you happen to plan to be in Cairns in August, it’s definitely worth checking the exact dates and planning your travels around it.