Keep Your Chin Up Down Under
It’s that mysterious place down under full of soft beaches, kangaroos and friendly folk cooking on their barbecues.
It’s where crocodiles meet hunters, dingos steal babies, buses of drag queens drive into the outback and a singer named Kylie Minogue can become an international pop sensation.
Australia is an amazing country that has so much to offer that it’s amazing it started as a place to send convicts. Its LGBT community is thriving and on an island which is mainly desert, its major cities are so distinct and unique from one to the next, it’s hard too just visit one of them.
We’ve made it a little easier by sharing just a snippet of some of the cities that everyone must visit in Australia, and we guarantee that once you go to Oz, you will want to make it a regular visit…
Sun, sand and surf, and all parts of the Land of Queens
Australia is often depicted in movies as having a lot of friendly people, sunshine, stunning beaches, hot surfers in speedos and putting shrimps on “barbies”.
This is mostly all true, and can be found in spades in Queensland, the northeastern-most state of the country — its capital is Brisbane. The city is known by locals as “Bris-Vegas”. It has some of the best weather, most popular destination for vacations, and it is home to some of the best theme parks, rain forests and marine life in the world — all located a short trip away from the city.
Brisbane itself is on the smaller size, compared to the likes of Sydney or Melbourne. The local people are always warm and friendly, and their relaxed attitudes are infectious. The city has had some major changes and redevelopments to keep it current and modern. One of the major draw cards of recent years for Brisbane has been the redevelopment of their South Bank precinct, which runs along the Brisbane River.
The first major big Ferris wheel in Australia sits on the bank — use it to get a good view of the city from a high altitude. Also along the precinct is where you will find a huge manmade beach with sand, water, slides and various water depths for swimming and playing. For the art lovers, The Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, or GOMA, is one of the latest additions to the South Bank precinct and is the largest modern art gallery in Australia, holding some of the most interesting and fascinating pieces including a huge selection of Aboriginal art work and a quick.
Now if you did want to stay and dance away in Brisbane, the gay nightlife, although small and cozy, can be found. But please be aware that there is a state lockout beginning at 3 a.m. Wherever you are at three, that’s where you must stay. Most popular venues are The Wickham Hotel or The Beat Mega Club. Both are located in Fortitude Valley, the main live music, shopping and entertainment precincts of Brisbane. See the Fluffy @ Family, Scarlett (girls only) and White Wolf (guys only) parties for something clubbier.
Getting around this fabulous city, busses and trains are the most common mode of transport. Some of the best beaches can be found on the beaches up the coast of Queensland. Alexander Bay, near Noosa on the Sunshine Coast, for example, has some gay friendly accommodation choices. An hour south of Brisbane you will find the Gold Coast. It’s the home of Surfers Paradise, a tourist and party city which has many massive amusement parks, sexy hot lifeguards, and beautiful beaches with massive waves for every mad surfer. The Gold Coast also has great shopping full of designer and local brands. The Gold Coast is home to one great gay club called Escape where all the tanned and buff locals hang out.
Way north of Brisbane and at the top of Queensland itself is Cairns, where you will find one of the biggest Australian draw cards: The Great Barrier Reef. The reef can be seen from outer space and is made up of 900 islands down the coast.
So Brisbane, and Queensland, is the place to be when you want a nice tan, relaxing on a soft beach and to go searching for Nemo. It is the ultimate beach summer Australian gay getaway. The options on things to do are countless, but more often than not, it will involve you getting wet.
If you don’t leave with sand in your shoes, a sunglasses tan line and a big smile on your face, you did not visit Brisbane or Queensland.
The hidden Australian secret
Melbourne is the second largest city in Australia and proudly holds the title for being the arts, sporting, food and shopping capital of the country.
It is where the Australian Tennis Open is held, the largest shopping centre in the Southern Hemisphere has been built and is also the birthplace of pop music superstar Kylie Minogue.
The city has a very European inspired feel to it, which is very noticeable in both the city’s main historic structures and in its famous hidden roads, which houses many of the coolest restaurants, bars, cafes and some of the most unique shopping. All of it adds up to one of the most frequently visited Aussie cities. It gets named one of the “Most Livable” cities in the world year after year.
Melbourne is one the easiest and accessible cities to move around in as the city has been laid out on a big grid format and operates one of the largest tram networks in the world. Weather-wise, Melbourne is proudly known for having “Four Seasons in one day” as it can go from very hot too cold too wet in minutes, making choosing the right outfit too wear from day too day quite the challenge.
If you do have nothing too wear, Melbourne is the perfect place to start a new style or see a fashion trend emerge. It is the undisputed fashion and shopping city of Australia, with hundreds of boutiques, outlet stores, many markets and massive shopping malls, all tastes are catered for making it impossible to come out empty-handed.
So for local recommendations: You must check out the historic Queen Victoria Market, Chapel and Fitzroy Streets for a little something unique. Melbourne is also home to one of the biggest malls in the world, with Chadstone Shopping Centre, which has 530 stores and is expanding in the next few years. It’s only a 20-minute bus ride from the city’s center.
The arts scene is massive in Melbourne (with all the sculptures and art pieces scattered around the city, it is impossible to keep your camera on the ready). Museums and galleries are very popular and house many international and local exhibitions throughout the year. Melbourne has also been the premier city for big Broadway musicals for decades, and the tradition continues with the upcoming world premier of “King Kong: The Musical,” as well as the return of the blockbuster “Wicked: The Broadway Musical”. With some of the most gorgeous and detailed theaters in the country, it’s no wonder producers look to Melbourne for a good place to try out their new productions before moving them too Broadway
For those into watching men get sweaty, Melbourne also holds the title for being the Sporting capital of the country. The rugby, cricket, Grand Prix, and the Australian Tennis Open are all played and competed in the city. The Australian national sport is Australian Rules Football, or A.F.L., and originated in Melbourne. This physical, and often brutal game, sparks heated debates among locals, but going to a stadium, and feeling the atmosphere while eating an Aussie meat pie with ketchup is a tradition.
For gay culture, Melbourne is one of the more forward and accepting cities. Most of the gay community resides a quick 10-minute tram ride outside the city in the suburbs of St. Kilda, Prahran or Collingwood, where you’ll also find the bars, clubs and gay friendly meeting spots in the city. There are now gay bars and gay-themed nights across the city. The Peel Bar, for example, has a dance floor with pop classics and Drag Queens. The Laird has the hairy bears, and the Greyhound Hotel has the dance club scene covered. In late January and February there is a LGBT festival called Midsumma, which is full of social events and has become a major city attraction.
For a quick weekend getaway, just a short 90-minute drive north of the city is a country town called Daylesford. It is an extremely LGBT-friendly Aussie country town located in the bush land with some of the most amazing spas and massage treatment houses, as well as hot springs and markets. There’s nothing quite like relaxing in the Australian bush in a spa with a Kangaroo bouncing around nearby.
A world of its own
Some things never change.
This is the city of Perth. Located in Western Australia, the biggest state of Australia, occupying over one third of the country, it holds the title for the most remote city in Australia. When you want to get away from it all, literally, this is the place you come to.
It takes approximately 4 hours flying time from any major east coast city to Perth. Any turbulence you might experience on your flight over shouldn’t be any cause for alarm, as it is just you going back in time a few years, or even some decades, before landing in Perth. If you want to know what Australia was like in the 90s, even 80s, then Perth is a must see. its warm and comfortable feel can only be matched by its welcoming people.
Perth’s popularity comes from gorgeous beaches, delicious wine and a booming mining community in the north. It is its own little world and has its own special charm that makes it the most unique of all the cities in Australia.
The face of the city has changed with Perth recently acquiring a new sporting Arena for the cricket and football teams, which have grown considerably over time, to a new Arts and Culture Centre for learning and State Theatre, so Perth can now host major musicals and plays like they couldn’t before.
Concerts and shows now stop in Perth, saving many locals the trip over to the more seasoned East coast. And currently under construction is Elizabeth Quay, a new harbor front for the CBD. With such popular beaches and water events in Perth, it was decided to open it up with a harbor.
Perth is home to King’s Park. Located in central Perth is the largest inner-city park in the world at 2.52 square miles and is a big attraction for runners, stressed workers and those who just want to relax and read a book under a tree. Being in the centre, it gives easy access to the many shops and restaurants located in the CBD.
Perth has also a full calendar of festivals all year round such as the International Arts Festival, the Perth Fringe Festival, Beaufourt Street Festival.
Perth is best known for its beaches, such as Cottesloe Beach, which has delicate soft sand and huge waves that attracts world surfers to its shores every summer. Because the beaches are all up the West coast of Australia, and the city is so remote, it’s easy to find a place, or even a whole stretch of remote beach. A quick drive from the city you will find the tucked-away Swanbourne Beach at the northern end of North Cottesloe — it is a well-known gay friendly beach.
Perth’s gay nightclub is called Connection and is located in the city area of Northbridge. Arrive early and entry is free. Wednesday night is Lesbian Mud Wrestling. It’s a good atmosphere with a more dance club feel to it, for a mixed crowd. And then with the tagline ‘Life’s Too Short To Play It Straight’, The Court is another must-do venue during any visit to Perth. It has a cute bar area at the front and a massive outdoor area and bar behind, where you can buy wood fired pizzas and dance the night away.
Perth has very strong ties to the LGBT community with Western Australia becoming one of the more progressive states in Australia, in regards to Gay rights. More recently, same-sex couples were allowed to jointly adopt children, and de facto gay couples are legally recognized, though no formal partnership register exists yet.
Perth casts a spell on everyone who comes to visit. Being so far away has its perks. Perth is a world of its own — and that’s not a bad thing.
Home to a harbor, a House and a bus called Priscilla
Sydney has long been associated as the most recognized city within Australia, and thanks to a little sporting event known as the Olympics Games back in 2000.
The spotlight has been put on it as the representative city of the country, and luckily the light is still burning bright. If you ask the locals, they’ll agree: Sydney is both traditional, modern and iconic, and the perfect introduction to Australia for tourists and locals alike.
The most populated city in Australia, the city itself has had a major face lift over the last couple of decades and is now one of the most modern and tourist-friendly cities in the world. Not to mention it is also the beating heart of Australian gay culture. It is home to Bondi Beach, excellent shopping, a thriving nightlife and is also home to some of the most photographed and incredible manmade structures in the world.
So Sydney is most famous for its impressive harbor. As it should be. It can’t be missed, both figuratively and literally. You fly over it on your way into Sydney Airport and the city itself is built around it. The magnificent Opera House and the Harbor Bridge are located there and are both very much deserving of their famous iconic status. Tours inside the Opera House and Bridge climbs are very popular with tourists, as well as ferry rides across the water to get better photos of them both on your way across the water too a beach of the Sydney Zoo.
Sydney is very easy too get around in. Most take the train or bus as a mode of transportation — others simply walk. For shopping, the Queen Victoria Building (QVB) would be the perfect place to start. This gorgeous and historic building has many floors of local and international brands, but the actual building is from another century with carvings and stained glass windows. It is a work of art in itself. The QVB also has underground tunnels connecting it to more of the smaller boutiques and department stores surrounding it. There are also many markets, including the Sydney Market where you can pick up a bargain, or perhaps just an Opera House snow globe for a cheap price.
So after a day of shopping, museums and catching the latest theatre show, it’s nice to relax in a park. Luckily, located in the city center sits Hyde Park. The park, with its fountains, trees and open space is a welcome relief from the fast pace of the city. Also in the city are the Botanical Gardens and Chinese Gardens.
Located on one corner of the park sits Oxford Street — home to gay Sydney. A strip of amazing shops, cafes, restaurants and bars all wearing their rainbow flags proudly. You have a choice of many bars, but you must check out Stonewall for the camp classic and drag queens, then head to the club Arq to dance the night away.
The Australian LGBT community lives and breaths on Oxford and is also the location for the world famous Mardi Gras Parade. Drawing in thousands of locals and international people year after year, the parade itself is a major tourist and draw card for Sydney, and the events and parties that follow are Aussie gay fun at its best. A quick mention must be made for the Imperial Hotel. A quick taxi ride from Oxford would take you there. It is best known for the place that a little bus called Priscilla began her journey and put Australia, and the drag scene, not only into the mainstream public eye but also showed the world that Aussies were just as fabulous as everyone else.
Sydney is a six-movie flight from Los Angeles and is direct with various airlines. It is the perfect introduction to Australia and Aussie style. Any city that has a parade to celebrate being who you are and your lifestyle is not only amazing, but must be visited more than once.