I fully expected to be greeted by a throbbing crowd of Hemsworths when I got off the plane at Melbourne Tullamarine airport a few months ago. That didn’t quite happen – but there are still plenty of hotties to stare at…
Unlike its sister city and rival for tourists attention Sydney, Melbourne doesn’t scream gay. It simply comments on it every now and then without overstating. I think the best way of describing gay Melbourne is to picture how gay you are throughout the week. If Sydney is you being gay on a Saturday, Melbourne is how gay you are on Monday. You’re still plenty gay but you’re less likely to be dancing in a parade in skin-tight silver hot pants on a Monday … Less likely but still could be.
So the gay things you enjoy mid-week are what Melbourne has to offer in spades! Fantastic restaurants, a barrage of cafés on every street corner, wine bars and wineries, spas, museums, theatres, concert halls and festivals. Melbourne is everything a trendy gay could ever want.
Let’s start with Chapel Street, a stretch of road that runs through several of Melbourne’s precincts that if you can remember their names you’ll sound less like a tourist. It runs from South Yarra through Prahan (pronounced puh-ran… seriously), Windsor and St Kilda. If you’re ever feeling homesick for trendy shopping and pretentious twink shop assistants this is the place for you. Famously the home of Melbourne’s first Top Shop as well as a myriad of other brand-name stores, restaurants and cafes, this may be the reason all the gays flock here. Or the fact that all the gays flock here is why they opened a Top Shop; chicken vs egg.
If you’re in the mood to have a few drinks and people-watch or get together over dinner and bitch about what people are wearing, this is where I’ll be doing just that so come join me.
Another thing that Melbourne does well is a good festival. It seems that pretty much every weekend the city centre is shutting down in celebration of one thing or another, and for 3 weeks in the summer Melbourne celebrates all things gay with the Midsumma Festival. A huge range of shows, exhibitions, concerts and events culminating in the Pride March in St Kilda (the area by the beach where all the Brits and gays tend to flock) topped off with a massive beach party towards the end of March.
At the same time of year, there is also the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Melbourne Queer Film Festival and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (See I told you they do a good festival.) This makes January – March an ideal time to visit with so much going on and weather in which short-shorts are almost compulsory.
If you fancy a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, Daylesford is just a 90-minute drive away and is more than gay-friendly; in fact it’s gay-centric. The area boasts the highest concentration of mineral springs in the country and so spa breaks, massage and holistic treatments are in abundance out here combined with breath-taking mountain views it makes for the perfect little romantic getaway.
Having said all that, you’re gonna want to go out and get drunk at some point and while there is no dedicated gay area as in some cities there are still some great haunts for a great gay night out.
The first venue that people mention is the Greyhound Hotel, this is a massive venue with several different rooms within and always a great show to be seen. The greyhound is a gay venue from Wednesday – Sunday but it open for other events and functions throughout the week.
Another great venue is The Peel Hotel over in Collingwood (not quite in the city centre or as the Melbournians call it the CBD but close enough to walk/stumble). The Peel is a great venue if you want a wide variety of music throughout the night and, as it opens at 9pm until 8 am, it’s usually the place to go after you’ve been kicked out everywhere else.
The imaginatively titled Poof Doof is a Saturday night event held in the CBD (central business district, in case you didn’t know) on Little Collins St. Not so much a gay club Poof Doof is held in the equally suggestively titled Bottom End Pub, which believe it or not isn’t a gay bar! It’s just a cool, trendy pub/bar/dance floor that is transformed into a perfectly seedy gay disco from 11 pm on Saturdays.
There’s a hidden upstairs entrance that I could not find the first two times I went there and a strict “no photos” policy which means what happens in the disco, stays in the disco.
Other gay venues include but are not limited to: IQ in Collingwood, Pretty Please in St Kilda and Love Machine over in Chapel Street; all of which have been described as young and a bit pretentious… which maybe your thing or not.
Lesbian club-wise there are a few gay-friendly and centric venues geared towards the ladies such as Alia bar in Collingwood and DnM in South Yarra. Having said that when I was there, DnM had a drag show with hot male AND female dancers, alongside Carly Rae Jepsen remixes and break-dancing miniature lesbians … now that was a fun night.
Melbourne is a fantastic city and one of my absolute favourites in all the world; and just because it isn’t in your face gay, doesn’t mean it can’t be.
Travel is such a huge part of modern life, and having grown up overseas and lived as a digital nomad no one gets that more than me.
As the world gets smaller we’re constantly looking for new and exciting places to visit that are safe and welcoming to the LGBT+ community.