Queensland is awesome, everyone knows that! With its beautiful weather, gorgeous beaches and friendly people, it’s all your best holidays wrapped into one bundle.
It used to be that people looked down on Queenslanders as uncultured and conservative, but that’s all quickly changing. Brisbane is the fastest growing city in Australia, with people from the South flooding up to enjoy the lifestyle and pace of life, and who can blame them! Brisbane has an array of clubs, festivals and places to visit that are unique and interesting to anyone in the GLBTI crowd.
The subtropical weather makes Queensland the ideal place for festivals, and we have a staggering amount of GLBTI festivals that cater to all tastes and interests.
Brisbane Pride Festival is a month-long celebration of diversity that is in the three largest GLBTI events in Australia, not to mention one of the longest running after starting in 1990 as a protest march. Covering everything from Pub Crawls, art events, performance spectaculars and dance celebrations, Pride Festival is a huge celebration of diversity and fun, attracting over 50,000 to the event. Now moved to September each year, you can expect warm daytime temperatures and plenty of sunshine.
September 16th, 2012
Also not to be sniffed at is Brisbane’s Big Gay Day in March, a huge party event that sees a mix of local and international performers on one big stage. Having run for the last ten years, Big Gay Day takes place in the street near the Wickham Hotel, attracting over 6,000 people to party the warm night away.
The Annual Brisbane Queer Film Festival (BQFF) is a great event in April that takes place over a week at the beautiful Brisbane Powerhouse. Featuring a selection of films hand picked each year, it’s a great way to catch up on some culture after all that partying!
Brisbane is also home to Northern Exposure in October, a BrisBears event that sees a flood of furry men descend onto the city for a week of fun. Similarly is Brisbane Leather Pride in July, which offers the leather community a week to party and celebrate.
Nightlife in Brisbane? While we suffer a 3am lockout up here we do have a smattering of gay clubs and one night events to enjoy.
The Sportsman Hotel in Spring Hill is one of Brisbane’s oldest venues, having been a gay pub for 20 years. It’s a relaxed and fun atmosphere with three separate bars to drink at, with meals available seven days and accommodation upstairs. ‘Sporties’ as it’s affectionately known is also home to BrisBears and BootCo. the Bears and Leather clubs respectively.
The Wickham Hotel is a classic ‘Queenslander’, converted into one of Brisbane’s best known GLBTI venues. Open late seven days a week it’s a fun place to catch up for drinks or have a big night at. Also much loved is The Beat Mega Club , featuring eight separate bars that are a mix of GLTBI and heterosexual spaces (upstairs bars are gay, downstairs are straight). Known for its young crowd, it’s a fun and easy space to party in. Both The Beat and The Wickham Hotel are located in Fortitude Valley, the main live music, shopping and entertainment precinct of Brisbane. Regular one night events of note are Fluffy @ Family , Scarlett (girls only) and White Wolf (guys only) parties.
Brisbane is also home to the biggest Sex On Premises Venues in Queensland, with its two saunas – Wet Sauna and Bodyline , and two cruise clubs – The Den and Klub Kruise give plenty of options for some action!
Brisbane’s best beaches
If you’re looking to get a tan be sure to keep the clothing optional Alexander Bay in mind. A few hours north of Brisbane it’s just near the beautiful Noosa on the Sunshine Coast. Nothing like soaking up some sun in the buff! If you’re looking to stay along the coast Horizons at Peregian is gay owned and friendly, with rooms overlooking the beautiful Peregian Beach, and for something a bit more intimate and men’s only The Hideaway resort is also on Peregian Beach and is clothing optional. The Sunshine Coast also holds an annual Mardi Gras Recovery week that starts in March, perfect for chilling out after the big event.
The Gold Coast
Travel south for an hour and you’ll hit The Gold Coast, one of the major tourist destinations in Queensland. It’s the home of Surfers Paradise, three big amusement parks, hot life savers and beautiful beaches. The Gold Coast also offers a huge array of shopping.
The Gold Coast is home to gay club Escape, located in the heart of Surfers Paradise and hosting regular special events each weekend plus themed nights during the week.
Gold Coast Gay Day is one of the biggest events on the Gold Coast calendar, featuring local entertainment, stalls and music. Held in the beautiful May sunshine it’s a fun day, and a great taste of Queensland life.
The Rainbow Region
Only two hours drive south of Brisbane and your across the border and into Northern New South Wales, known as the ‘Rainbow Region’. Practically part of Queensland, it shares the lush sub climate and great lifestyle.
Byron Bay is a bustling tourist destination that is incredibly popular with over seas travellers, sharing Queensland ideals of great beaches and friendly people. Byron thrives on its alternate lifestyle, offering up some amazing shopping in the main street and the huge markets on the weekend.
Northern New South Wales is home to one of Australia’s largest parties, Tropical Fruits , an annual event that takes place over the last week of December, with the main party happening on New Year’s Eve. Held in Lismore, a short drive from Byron Bay, its one of the ‘not to be missed’ gay events attracting a huge crowd, and offering a selection of entertainment from dance floors to art shows to men and women only spaces.
Looking to take in some rays? Be sure to check out Kings Beach just outside of Byron Bay, it’s clothing optional and gets quite a few visitors for some fun and sun.
Cairns and Tropical Pride
Queensland is a big place, with the state taking up the same space as both Melbourne and Sydney put together. Up in Northern Queensland where the weather is hot and the landscape tropical is a little gay Mecca. Cairns is home to the Tropical Pride festival which celebrates the small city’s GLBTI diversity and is a week long event in August with street parades, community fairs and a dance party.
Cairns’ gay-friendly drinking spot is the Vibe Bar on Lake Street with a friendly atmosphere, and the crew of Out Cairns hold parties on the first Saturday night of most months.
Looking for a place to stay in Cairns? Turtle Cove is resort-style accommodation located on its own private beach out of the city and Skinny Dipps is in the heart of the CBD but has a private swimming pool to relax at. Want to meet some locals for fun? Check out Head Office right in the CBD. Cairns also offers lots of gay or gay friendly tours for those wanting to take in the scenery or swim on the stunning Great Barrier Reef.
Just four hours drive south of Cairns is Townsville, a small and quiet sea side shire that recently had its first gay pride festival. Unique to Townsville is The Sovereign Hotel , the only gay bar for miles around. Set in a beautiful Queenslander style hotel, its gives a slice of gay life that’s very different to the Brisbane clubs, but offers a fun and relaxed atmosphere to meet the locals in.
Its easy to see that Queensland offers a unique spin on gay life, so come and visit us sometime!
Editor’s note: This article first appeared in September 2010, but was modified in December 2012 with updated information.