Gay Vacations in Sydney, Australia

Aerial view of the Harbor Bridge in Sydney, Australia
Sydney's Harbor Bridge, Australia (courtesy, Tourism Australia)

Sydney Highlights

  • Sydney is a summer city. Although winter (June-August) temps are moderate, you really want to experience Sydney in all its glory during its summer (late November through early March), especially for the huge Mardi Gras (happening every February or March) and the Sleaze Ball (in November).
  • Learn the lingo. Aussies love nicknaming, shortening their English, and creating playful slang for everything. A primer: Always say "G'day." "Bloke" means "guy," "mate" means "buddy," "cozzie" or "budgie smuggler" means "Speedo." "She’ll be right" means "Everything will be OK."
  • Don't stand up for Melbourne! Sydneysiders and Melbournites have a longstanding rivalry that is both friendly and serious. Melbourne residents see Sydney locals as silly sun-bleached party boys, while Sydneysiders see their Melbourne cousins as stuck up and dour. Don't get caught in between!

Sydney is easily the LGBT capital of the Southern Hemisphere, even overshadowing Rio. Where else could a very queer Mardi Gras be televised on national TV, with grandparents and children staking out spots on the parade route hours beforehand? Sydney has a form of civil unions, and gays can be found all over the city, cavorting on the beaches, performing drag in a cornucopia of "hotels" (the Australian names for pubs), living casually out, and generally making the city feel like a San Francisco with better weather!

Sydney’s main LGBT strip is along Oxford Street running through Darlinghurst and Paddington, with neighboring Surry Hills also colored very lavender. Lesbians congregate in Newton and Leichhardt (a.k.a. "Dykeheart"), and gay women are more visible here than in many American cities. You spot queers ogling the famous Aussie lifeguards in their skimpy gear at the beaches of Manly and Bondi. And gay-filled beaches abound as well, from Tamarama (a.k.a. Glamarama) and adjoining Bondi to four local nude beaches—Obelisk, Cobblers, Washaway, and Lady Bay—all within Sydney National Park northeast of central Sydney.

Beyond the gay and lesbian scene, Sydney is a world-class tourist destination in its own right. Catch a top-tier performance at the Sydney Opera House, take a guided climb over the Harbour Bridge, check out the excellent Sydney Aquarium at the renovated Darling Harbour, or take day trips to go hiking in the nearby Blue Mountains, wine tasting in the Hunter Valley, or whale watching near Port Stephens. No matter what you see and do, almost everyone wants to move to the glorious land of Oz after just one visit.

Published: 16 Jul 2008 | Last Updated: 9 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »