Ranging Far and Wide 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...
Brisbane: 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.
Melbourne: 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.