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, 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. The SkyBus takes you downtown for $19. PTV Airport buses will also get you into town, for just $3.90. Taxis are another option, but at a likely cost of $45-55.
Some discount domestic carriers arrive at Avalon Airport, about 31 miles southwest of the city. Farther from the city, it requires more expensive and time-consuming connections. such as the Avalon Airport Shuttle at $22 to the CSB.
Melbourne has amazing public transportation. Buy a myki smartcard at the airport or from over 800 retail outlets across metropolitan and regional Victoria, including all 7-Eleven stores. The myki Visitor Value Pack costs $14, good for for one full day’s travel on trains, trams and buses throughout Zones 1 and 2, plus some area discounts. Top up your card with myki money to pay-as-you-go for additional 2-hour fares at $3.90. Trams are the best way to get around downtown. See PTV for full details.
The Melbourne Bike Share system serves the central business district of Melbourne and St Kilda. For unlimited 30-minute rides between 49 stations subscriptions start at $3 per day, and free helmets are provided. Going over 30 minutes will incur additional fees. Casual daily or weekly riders may use a credit card at any bike station to receive a bike unlocking code, valid for one bike for one trip. See details online, or find the Spotcycle app at GooglePlay or iTunes.
To travel around Melbourne in high style, venture out to the Yarra Valley for lunch, or fly over the rugged Victorian coastline, check out Microflite Helicopter Services tours and charters.
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.
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 gay magazine with some very impressive photography.
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.
Fuse Magazine has national coverage of gay Australia from their Canberra base.
Joy 94.9FM is the local LGBTIQ radio station - check them out online from anywhere in the world, live 24/7, on any platform.
MCV Magazine is dead, along with fellow Evo Media publications such as Cult, SX (NSW), Queensland Pride (Brisbane), Blaze (SA), and their Gay News Network website. See this OutinPerth article on the subject.
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 in mid-January, with a month of events and performances all over town. The Pride March heads down Fitzroy Street in St Kilda to Catana Gardens in late January. Melbourne Queer Film Festival is an annual 11-day program of international gay films in March-April.
See our events pages 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), six guest rooms above the bar In Collingwood/Abbotsford; TV, gay adult channel, 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), 40 serviced apartments, easy walk from area gay clubs, and multitude of restaurants, cafes and eateries, including the Prahran Market,
Going out -- Northside/Abbotsford
The 86 (185 Smith St, Collingwood), mixed cocktail bar, cabaret and drag burlesque shows, dancing, live comedy acts, queer circus; Vietnamese meals and tapas snacks by Coconut Palms.
Bottom End (579 Little Collins St, CBD), mixed 18+ bar/pub, American-style diner; upstairs Banana:Peach "Melbourne’s largest, nay, grandest 24-hour Palais de Danse" with a rotation of Friday electronic music nights; monthly Swagger gay RnB queens/ hip-hop events from InTheDark; and weekly Saturday Hot Load homodances.
Commercial Club 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.
Imperial Hotel (2-8 Bourke St), iconic pub near Parliament House, mixed sports bar, large rooftop deck restaurant and bar, outdoor or indoor meals.
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.
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, all-welcome Thursday/Sunday, men-only Wednesday/Friday/Saturday. Butt Naked (underwear optional) first Mondays. DJs, pool tables and shows. Upstairs coffee lounge, huge maze/cruise area, private rooms/booths, barber, porn cinema. Also periodic Beef dance parties for men and Adam nude evenings for guys.
Going out -- Melbourne City and Southside
In South Yarra and Prahran, Commercial Road rules the roost and St Kilda is nearby to the Southwest.
Love Machine (228A Malvern Rd, Prahran), R&B, and House music dance club on three floors, mixed gay/straight men/women crowd; Gossip Sunday gay nights.
Prince Bandroom (29 Fitzroy St, St Kilda), stately pub/club, live bands, gay and straight mixed crowd.
Railway Hotel (29 Chapel St, Windsor), beer garden, deck bar, restaurant, and liquor store.
Saint Martins Place (374 St Kilda Rd, St Kilda), alternative/fetish club. BDsM theatrical erotic performance art events, burleque and dancing.
Going out -- mixed and various dates/venues
Barba Party, monthly Sydney or Melboune dance party sponsored by The BeardedHomo at various venues.
Poof Doof at Chasers (386 Chapel St, South Yarra), popular Saturday theme night dance party, "... delicious house music & deluded dancers" - "Melbourne's favourte gay rave. Every Saturday from 10:30pm until the last man goes homo."
Rock City gay party productions does events around town, including New Year's, Australia Day, and other holiday specials.
Thick 'n' Juicy monthly theme dance party for men at various venues, including 24 Moons (2 Arthurton Rd, Northcote); hundreds of hunks, fire eating and spinning, visuals, freaky roving performers, sexy gogo dancers, dark play room.
The Beyond leather/fetish events with dress code appear to be on permanent hiatus.
Saunas, Sex Clubs, Escorts
Bay City Sauna (482 Glen Huntly Rd, Elsternwick), south of Melbourne gay/bisexual sauna/steam, café/bar, dark room, cabins, WiFi. The Melbourne Swingers sponsor a pan-sexual swingers playground here for men, women, and trans.
Club 80 (10 Peel St), playful sex club just up from The Peel bar, communal areas, cubicles, glory holes, clothing optional naked parties, internet access, art house movies along with porn.
Peninsula Sauna (16 Cumberland Dr, Seaford), hot spa, steam room, dry sauna, outdoor courtyard, Internet stations, small gym, slings, porn lounge, maze, darkroom, professional masseur, cafe/bar.
Subway Sauna (Vault 13, Banana Alley Vaults, Flinders at Queensbridge St), at heart of the central business district with rooms, cruise areas, porn video lounge, wet areas and cafe.
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, sling room, maze area and suckatorium.
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 (568 Chapel St, South Yarra), Melbourne brand casual clothing with contemporary feel for men and women.
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.
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 (80 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.
Jack London (301 Swanston St, Central Business District), Melbourne brands with a dapper touch.
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 (139 Langridge St, Collingwood), sells leather, rubber, and lifestyle gear; Mister B products.
Myer (Bourke St, Central Business District), one of two grand department stores, fashions favored by younger and hipper clients.
Nique (201 Chapel St, Prahan), Assin's friendlier, more accessible cousin. Also in Brighton, CBD, Fitzroy, St Kilda and other locations.
CLOSED: Bang (41 Cato St) - see their Sydney store and online shopping for sports gear, party apparel, underwear and accessories.
Check out annual fashion extravaganzas like the March Melbourne Fashion Festival; and the August-September Melbourne Spring Fashion Week of fashion shows and parties promoting upcoming spring and summer collections.