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 look at Canberra will be the Canberra Airport. To reach the center take a taxi, or the Ride On Demand shuttle bus for $12 in either direction. Purchase tickets at the car park customer service office opposite the bus stop just outsdie the arrivals hall, or book ahead at their website. Transport Canberra’s ACTION buses offer public transportation into the center on their number 11 and 11A routes. Cash fares of $4.80 may be paid on the bus, at the time of travel.
This is a city that was planned with the car in mind, so renting one is a good idea - see Canberra Car Hire for information. There are also taxis, and Action buses for getting around -- see Myway for public transport smartcards and fare information.
Currency and Money
The local currency is the Australian dollar. You shouldn’t have trouble finding ATMs in most urban areas.
Gay rights in Australia
LGBT people are protected from discrimination and enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as other Australians. On December 9, 2017 the country became the 25th in the world to legalise same-sex marriage.
Most laws affecting LGBT and intersex rights are made by its states and territories. Between 1975 and 1997, the states and territories progressively repealed anti-homosexuality laws inherited from Britain, and each jurisdiction now has an equal age of consent of 16 for all sexual acts (except Tasmania and South Australia at 17). All, with the exception of the Northern Territory, allow both joint and step-parent same-sex adoption. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression is prohibited.
For a sane voice in the political discussion of sex and drugs, see the Australian Reason Party website.
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.
Emen8, "Australia's biggest and boldest online sexual health and wellbeing initiative for gay men, bisexual men and men who have sex with men!" also has travel and events highlights and tips on fashion and design.
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.
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.
CLOSED: 16 West (16 West Row), LGBTQ+ meeting space/drinks, karaoke, WiFi, Saturday dance party.
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.
EQ Café & Lounge (70 Kent St, Inner South), gay-friendly coffee bar/ restaurant breakfast, lunch; heated outdoor area.
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.
Muse (Canberra Ave at Giles St, Kingston), East Hotel new and used bookshop, event space, fine wines, literary salon and restaurant; breakfast from 6:30am (Sa/Su 7am), lunch and dinner; guest authors and OUTBIZ LGBTIQ networking events.
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.