Australia’s capital city is sometimes dismissed as just a company town. It’s true that the government is Canberra’s major industry, but after a long week of tending to politics, its young, highly educated population likes to let its hair down.
Canberra, a compromise capital, situated between Sydney and Melbourne, is a planned city. Construction began in 1913 from plans drawn up by a team of Chicago architects. Like Washington DC the city is situated in a district, the Australian Capital Territory or ACT, and has wide open green spaces, and embassies from around the world. There is so much natural vegetation that it’s often called the “bush capital.” The architecture is largely modern. It’s not always beautiful, but it can be striking, such as at the Shine Dome and the National Museum of Australia. Much of the downtown gets quiet in the evening, but the area around Bunda Street stays lively with many restaurants and bars.
The gay community here is thriving. The annual SpringOut festival, takes place in November. (Remember, the seasons are reversed down under.) Events range from croquet to nude yoga. The Canberra Bush Dance is a big LGBT dance and BBQ festival event in singlets, jeans, twirling dresses, chaps, check-shirts, rhinestones, hats and boots.
Your first taste of Canberra will be the Canberra Airport. To reach the center take a taxi, or the Royal Coach Airport Express shuttle bus for $12 each way. Purchase tickets at the car park customer service office opposite the bus stop just outsdie the arrivals hall, or book ahead at their website.
Currency and Money
The local currency is the Australian dollar. You shouldn’t have trouble finding ATMs in most urban areas.
Media & Resources
DNA is a national glossy magazine with some very impressive photography.
Fuse Magazine is another national gay publication with info on the local gay scene.
Out in Canberra and BMAMag are the general-public websites for dining, nightlife and style information.
For map locations and website links to the businesses below, and more, see our gay Canberra listings pages.
Peppers Gallery Hotel (15 Edinburgh Ave; 61-7-5665-4426), 80 rooms/suites, contemporary boutique hotel and restaurant/bar, with gym, landscaped gardens, near retail shops.
For a dozen local hotels and guesthouses see our map and listings pages.
16 West (16 West Row), Wednesday-Saturday 4pm-2am LGBTQ+ meeting space; Happy Hour drinks, karaoke, WiFi, DJ dance party Saturday nights.
Cube Nightclub (33 Petrie Plaza), Thursday through Sunday, gay dance and party club, shows, men/women mix, karaoke.
Mustang Ranch & Champions Lounge (Unit 19, Molonglo Mall), Canberra’s men’s space, open 7 days, morning to midnight; big screen TV cinema lounge, internet computers, free tea and coffee, upstairs playrooms, orgy room, showers.
The Phoenix (23 East Row, Civic), gay-friendly young/alternative mixed crowd pub, live music, movie nights, poetry readings.
Tilley's Divine Cafe Gallery (Brigalow at Wattle St), old fashioned wooden booths, 7-days breakfast, lunch and dinner, art, poetry readings, live music concerts, jazz, swing, dancing.
Gay Crash is a monthly take-over of a Canberra straight bar for one night only, to make it ours.
Cafe Essen (6 Garema Place) casual, popular hearty breakfasts, brunch, lunch, 30 coffee varieties, tea, from 7am.
Cream Cafe & Bar (Bunda Street FG10), contemporary Asian, European/Mediterranean food, vegetarian-friendly, breakfast, lunch and dinner, Sunday treats, early take-out coffeeshop, full bar.
Eat Your Words Cafe (2/71 Dundas Court), big breakfasts, eggs benedict, pancakes, lunch entrees, smoothies, sandwiches, pasta salads, croissants and muffins.
Idelic Cafe (62 Giles St, Kingston), big breakfasts 7am to noon, all-day Saturday, benedicts, omelets, pancakes, bagels, extras, quiche, lunch, wraps, tarts, cakes, desserts.
Tosolini's Ristorante (London Circuit at East Row), traditional Italian cooking, comfortable, relaxed atmosphere, Italian wines, good coffee.
See more restaurants at our map & listings pages.