Cosmopolitan Melbourne is Australia's more refined gay destination. Amazing restaurants tempt foodies with cuisines from around the world. Buildings ranging in style from neoclassical to modern draw architecture buffs. And the gay scene, split between the arty queers and the leather studs, has something for everyone.
The city, built during the gold rush of the 19th century, is extraordinarily well planned. Explore such inner-city laneways (narrow, pedestrian-only streets) as Hosier Lane and Degraves Street, and you'll find a selection of cafes that rival the best in Europe. The two National Galleries, one displaying Australian art, the other showing international works, are known for their world-class exhibitions.
While Melbourne has a gay scene to satisfy just about everyone, you can't help but notice how much the city caters to the artsy types and leather aficionados. With posters plastered around the city promoting events like Trough Faggot, those with open minds and adventurous spirits will be well rewarded. Of course, everyone comes together on Sunday afternoon for drinks at the Railway Hotel.
Melbourne has a pleasantly high concentration of Greeks and Italians, so if tall, dark and handsome is your thing, you'll be busy during your stay.
Most international flights arrive at Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport, about 14 miles northwest of the city. Some discount domestic carriers arrive at Avalon Airport, about 31 miles southwest of the city. It's not a great option, since it's farther from the city and requires expensive and time-consuming connections. From Tullamarine, the economical SkyBus takes you downtown for about $14. Taxis are also an option, but they cost upward of $45.
Melbourne has amazing public transportation. Buy a Daily Metcard for unlimited travel on trams, trains and buses (about $6 from convenience stores). Get to know the trams, since they are the best way to get around the city. See Metlink for information.
As you explore the city by foot, pay attention to the weather. Dress in layers since Melbourne is famous for having three seasons in a single day.
To the south of the city are the daytime gay areas: South Yarra, Prahran and St Kilda. Commercial Road is the subtly gay strip in this part of the city. Nearby you will find the biggest gay club and a sprinkling of cafes, bars and stores popular with the boys.
Up north, there is a different mix of gay distractions. During the day, visit the great boutiques, quirky galleries and stylish restaurants along Brunswick Street. At night, the suburbs of Fitzroy, Collingwood and Abbotsford really come alive.
Currency and Money
The local currency is the Australian dollar. You shouldn’t have trouble finding ATMs in most urban areas.
Media & resources
The GayNewsNetwork website has well-researched, up-to-date business and events listings and a special Australia-wide summer (December-March) guide online reader.
AXN: CULT is a new national magazine "dedicated to people, places and artistry that subvert the status quo..." -- trailblazing photography and design to provocative theater and new ways to party.
Travel OUT in Sale, will get you from Melbourne to places like Kathmandu or Ho Chi Minh City; on Atlantis or Orion cruises, or help with more local travel services in Australia.
Joy 94.9FM is the local LGBTIQ radio station - check them out online from anywhere in the world, live 24/7 (iPad, iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows or iTunes).
See our listings tab for map locations and website links for gay Melbourne businesses and more.
The Midsumma Festival gay arts and culture festival events kick off January 16, 2011, with events all over town. The Pride March heads down Fitzroy Street in St Kilda to Catana Gardens on February 6. Melbourne Queer Film Festival is an annual 11-day program of international gay films, this year March 17-27, 2011.
See the events tab above for more.
169 Drummond Gay Accommodation (169 Drummond; 61-3-9663-3081), gay B&B on residential street, 24-hour access, laundry facilities, garden entertaining areas, dining room, stores, restaurants, coffee shops, tram to gay districts.
The Cullen (164 Commercial Rd; 61-3-9098-1555), new boutique art hotel in the gayborhood, one of four planned, two restaurants, hair salon; displays paintings and sculpures from local contemporary enfant terrible, Adam Cullen.
The Laird Hotel (149 Gipps St; 61-3-9417-2832), popular male-only guest rooms In Collingwood/Abbotsford, TV and breakfast room, laundry facilities, three bars, pool room, and beer garden with crowd all year long.
Prahran Manor (117 Williams Rd; 61-3-9833-7065), five boutique suites in gay neighborhood, private baths, kitchenettes, sunny common lounge, indoor swim spa, courtyard deck BBQ, wine, WiFi.
The Prince (2 Acland St, St Kilda; 61-3-9536-1111), boutique hotel fine lodgings, minutes from beach, two restaurants include Circa, bars, spa retreat, live music club.
The Quest Prahran Hotel (9 Balmoral St; 61-3-9823-8888), serviced apartments, easy walk from area gay clubs, and multitude of restaurants, cafes and eateries, including the Prahran Market,
Saville Hotel (3 Commercial Rd; 61-3-9867-2755) profits from proximity to much of Melbourne's gay life in South Yarra/ Prahran. This "affordable alternative" has a motel-like feel, rooms usually rented by the night.
Going out -- Northside/Abbotsford
The 86 (185 Smith St, Collingwood), new cocktail bar, cabaret and drag burlesque shows, dancing, live comedy acts, queer circus; Vietnamese meals and tapas snacks by Coconut Palms.
A Bar called Barry (64 Smith St, Collingwood), Queer Thursdays camp night, pop, RnB, dancing, videos, pool games, Saturday Barryoke and dance mix.
Commercial Hotel (238 Whitehall St, Yarraville) aka "the Mersh" club and restaurant. Saturday drag shows, huge beer garden, resident DJs and live bands.
DT's (164 Church St, Richmond) longtime neighborhood favorite, laid-back comfortable gay pub, crowd of all kinds and ages. Raffles and "theatrics" plus barbecue dinners, drag shows, games, exotic tropical folliage beer garden retreat.
The Laird Hotel (149 Gipps St, Collingwood), every night men-only bar where Melbourne Leathermen meet; three bars, beer garden, bear events, underwear parties and pool games on the house. Southern Hibernation, Men-On-Men Art, and Mooning parties.
Libation (302 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy), small, exquisite lounge with a bohemian tinge, side alcoves for a little privacy, popular Sunday afternoons.
The Peel (Peel and Wellington Streets, Collingwood), usually younger guys in abundance, crowd varies with night, as do DJs; each his own mood. Dance floor "full-on" after midnight, lounge and game rooms chill-out space.
Sircuit (103 Smith St, Collingwood), predominantly men most nights, men-only Wednesday, Friday, Saturday. Pool tables and smoking area overlook street. Upstairs: coffee lounge, huge maze/cruise area, private rooms/booths, porn lounges, smoking and wash-up areas. Butt Naked fully nude (underwear optional) parties.
CLOSED - October 2012: Neverwhere (185 Smith St, Fitzroy), dancing, bands, comedy, Sunday All Dragged Up & NoWhere to Show.
Going out -- Melbourne City and Southside
In South Yarra and Prahran, Commercial Road rules the roost and St Kilda is nearby to the Southwest.
Abode (374 St Kilda Rd, St Kilda), Australia's first, only fixed location, alternative/fetish club. BlueAfterGlow are their BDsM theatrical erotic performance art events; dancing at Mezzanine dance club.
Bar 362 (362 St Kilda Rd, St Kilda), live rock and acoustic sets, drag shows, DJs play in two bars, hip, funky crowd, no attitude, gay and straight rockers, trannies, cowboys, and bikers mix it up.
DnM (119 Commercial Rd, S Yarra), drag shows, pool games, male strippers, male & female go-gos, full menu food service, DJs, dancing, mixed crowd, former Xchange.
The Greyhound Hotel (1 Brighton Rd, St Kilda) informal gay pub,aka the GH; excellent live music, local bands, drag shows, karaoke nights, cheap beer, unpolished, fun, unpretentious hangout. Suits to bikers, trannies, young and old at old-style St Kilda mainstay.
Heaven's Door (147 Commercial Rd), cocktail lounge, four dance floors, diva hostesses, drag shows, sexy dancers, hot DJs play House and R'n'B, mostly young mix, ages 18-up, goes until 5am; Asian Treasure nights with performers and dancers.
Prince of Wales (29 Fitzroy St, St Kilda), stately pub/club, live bands, gay and straight mixed crowd.
Going out -- various dates/venues
Beyond Black are leather fetish events with dress code at various venues around Melbourne. Check their website for upcoming dates.
Future Music produces some of the best area music festivals, concerts & other events.
Saunas, Sex Clubs, Escorts
Club 80 (10 Peel St), playful sex club just up from The Peel bar, communal areas, cubicles, glory holes, clothing optional, internet access, art house movies along with porn.
Stableboys (44 Gladstone St; The-stable.com.au), European-style male brothel close to casino in South Melbourne, luxurious rooms/showers, guys 18-23, no-pressure on-site selection, stallions, stable boys and trannies.
Subway Sauna (Vault 13, Banana Alley Vaults, at Queensbridge St), at heart of the central business district with rooms, cruise areas, porn video lounge, wet areas and cafe.
Ten Plus (59 Porter St, Prahran), no-attitude cruise club in two buildings, mixed bag of people, outdoor area, theme rooms, and group areas, sling rooms, glory holes, free internet, and porn.
Wet on Wellington (162 Wellington St), Melbourne's only sauna with 25-meter heated lap pool, licensed bar, steam and sauna rooms, roof-top sundeck and patio, movie theater, private rooms and lockers -- plus porn lounges, maze area and suckatorium.
To the south on Port Phillip Bay, in Seaford: Shed 16 (16 Cumberland Dr), gay & bi men's sauna, spa, movies, internet, gym, yard, games, cafe/bar, sling, dark room/suckatorium and maze. Off our map - see website Shed16.com.a
For escorts in Melbourne and beyond see Rent Boys Australia and ManSex. Madesco Escorts luxury male and executive escort service, has models, VIP and high-class escorts available in most large Australian cities, including Melbourne.
Heavenly Solutions (13 Izett St), a gay-owned and operated salon, offers waxing, facials, massage, wraps and beauty treatments in the thick of it all.
Fitness First (560 Church St) in the suburb of Richmond, draws lots of gays with a state-of-the-art gym.
Melbourne is a paradise for gays looking to indulge in a bit of fashion shopping. There is an abundance of men's stores featuring well-known local talent. Maybe because of the cooler weather, Melbourne's fashion palette is all about blacks, whites and the shades of gray in between.
Arthur Galan (187/189 Little Collins St, Central Business District), Melbourne brand casual clothes with contemporary feel.
Assin (138 Little Collins St, basement, Central Business District), brutal minimalism, international fashion brands such as Lanvin and Dior Homme displayed against steel and concrete.
Bang (41 Cato St) touts sports gear, party apparel, underwear and accessories for the fashion-conscious.
Beat Bookshop (157 Commercial Rd) adult bookshop vends all kinds of pleasure implements and fantasy enhancements. The popular upstairs lounge and video room may provide even more immediate sensual gratification.
Calibre (218-242 Little Collins St, Central Business District), Melbourne fashions aimed at the well-dressed business executive.
David Jones (Bourke St, Central Business District), one of two big department stores, with big brand names.
Eagle Leather (58 Hoddle St, Abbotsville) is a store and community center of sorts, with leather and fetish clothing, accessories, toys, books and magazines plus bear items. Open daily except Monday, they have an online store too.
Hares & Hyenas (63 Johnston St, Fitzroy), gay and lesbian bookshop with information, free local gay papers, T-shirts, posters, cards, and art.
INYA (53 and 59 Izett St), former Shaft and Faboo; calendars, rainbow gear, lubes, dildos, fleshlights, porn DVDs, magazines, and special items: Bandangles silicon bracelet fashion accessories (color coded like the hanky codes).
Jack London (301 Swanston St, Central Business District), Melbourne brands with a dapper touch.
Kwamee by Francis (Shop 568 Chapel St, South Yarra), a wild card brand that goes against the grain with wild colors.
Lucrezia and De Sade (441 Brunswick St) is the southern sister of Sax Fetish in Sydney. Custom designed and ready-to-wear leather and denim fetish garments are designed and manufactured here.
Mannhaus (130 Hoddle St, Abbotsford), sells leather, rubber, and lifestyle gear.
Myer (Lonsdale St, Central Business District, one of two grand department stores, this one favored by younger and hipper clients.
Nique (205 Chapel St, Prahan), Assin's friendlier, more accessible cousin.
Check out annual fashion extravaganzas like the March L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival; and the August-September Melbourne Spring Fashion Week of fashion shows and parties promoting upcoming spring and summer collections.
The Konk (149 Commercial Rd) cafe and bar serves brunch and dinners featuring a modern Australian blend of traditional and spicy Asian flavors, at seating inside, or on their courtyard. There's an art gallery upstairs, and customers may use their secure WiFi access. Open until 1am.
The Red Tongue Cafe (275 Brunswick St, Fitzroy), open every day at the Paris end of one of Melbourne's most interesting streets, has great outdoor seating. Fully licensed, they serve gourmet pizzas, lunch, dinner, breakfast all day, and have take-out too.
Thousand Pound Bend (361 Little Lonsdale St), central restaurant/café, art gallery, bar, cinema screenings and performance space.