Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gay Travel in Austrailia

by Andrew Copestake, Demand Media

With the annual Sydney Mardi Gras as its crowning glory, Australia is a prized destination for gay travelers, but its attractions extend beyond one festival. Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne are home to diverse gay populations and barely a month goes by without a gay event somewhere in the country, whether it's watching movies at Melbourne's Queer Film Festival or unwinding at Mardi Gras Recovery Week in Noosa. For those seeking a less hectic pace, rural areas, especially in Tasmania and along the Queensland coast, offer dozens of gay-owned hotels.

Gay Hubs

Sydney is one of the world's most gay-friendly destinations with a host of bars and restaurants in Darlinghurst and Paddington, while North Bondi beach entices sun-worshipers by day. Melbourne's reputation for culture attracts gay travelers who congregate around the restaurants and galleries of Commercial Road. Coastal Queensland is the preferred choice for a beach vacation; although nightlife is scant, a handful of gay beaches provide respite, while Cairns boasts the largest concentration of gay-exclusive resorts in Australia.


Before making a reservation, check whether hotels are members of Gay and Lesbian Tourism Australia, a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to hotels looking to welcome gay guests. Some travelers prefer to stay in gay-owned accommodations. Turtle Cove, 45 miles north of Cairns, provides easy access to the Great Barrier Reef and has 30 rooms, all with private balconies that overlook the beach or tropical gardens. In Tasmania, Corinda's Cottages features three cottages equipped with kitchen and laundry facilities. Set in a fairytale garden, where a flock of Fantail doves serenade guests from an ornate dovecote, the rooms are crammed with antiques, providing a temporary distraction from the island's dense rainforests, wild coastline and mountain peaks.


Australia's gay festivals can help determine the best time to visit. For film fans Melbourne hosts Australia's oldest queer film festival every March, screening films from across the globe. Adelaide's Feast Festival is Australia's second largest gay festival, featuring two weeks of sports and cultural events, as well as a picnic in Pinky Flat park. Sydney Mardi Gras, one of the most flamboyant street parades in the world, also holds two weeks of cultural events from the end of February. When Mardi Gras ends, hundreds of revelers retreat to Noosa for Recovery Week, a seven-day program of cocktail evenings, boat cruises and pool parties.

Gay Press

Many of Australia's cities have gay magazines that provide up-to-date club listings and are available for free in gay venues. "SX" is Sydney's weekly publication, distributed in the cafes of Oxford Street and at The Bookshop, a gay bookstore in Darlinghurst. "Q Magazine" is Melbourne's monthly free magazine, "Queensland Pride" covers Brisbane, Cairns and the coastal resorts each month, while bi-monthly "Fuse" lists details of Canberra's scene.

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