The Hornet Guide to Gay Sydney
Sydney, Australia’s largest city, is unsurprisingly a massive tourist hub drawing over 13 million visitors. And no wonder, with such iconic attractions as the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Sydney offers not just site-seeing, but magnificent opportunities for outdoor activities.
Australia is one of the most LGBTQ-friendly countries in the world, and recently legalized marriage equality. And with its annual three-week-long Mardi Gras festival, gay Sydney is the most LGBTQ-friendly city in the country.
Fun facts about Sydney
Though many people think Sydney is Australia’s capitol city, that’s actually Canberra, which is southwest of Sydney. Sidney, however, is the capital of New South Wales, its state. It’s also the most populous city in Australia, and one of the most diverse. Chinese and Arabic are the two most common languages here other than English.
Sydney also has a sordid, colorful past. In the 1920s and 1930s, it was known as “Sin City” due to the convicts initially settling here in the early 1900s. Organized crime ran rampant; two famous Australian ladies, Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh, ruled the brothels and the underworld then. (Of course, that’s long-gone now; modern Sydney is beautiful and safe.)
Famous local attractions
If this is your first time in Sydney, you need to visit sites like Opera House and Harbour Bridge; they’re iconic for a reason. But there are many other famous attractions, like the Royal Botanic Garden, worth a visit. You’ll learn Aboriginal history and culture as you explore its three major botanical gardens.
For sun worshippers, both Bondi and Manly Beaches are the top spots to soak up the sun. Bondi, Sydney’s most famous beach, is the perfect spot for a day of relaxing, swimming and surfing. Plus, there are plenty of shops and restaurants along the beach.
Another fun local attraction is The Rocks. Located near Sydney’s city center, The Rocks has many historic sites like Cadmans Cottage. There is stunning architecture and plenty of souvenir shops to check out. The Rocks Market, a weekend event featuring vendors selling local products is another popular attraction.
With such a substantial Chinese population, Sydney’s Chinatown area is thriving. The Chinese Garden of Friendship has beautiful bamboo plants and splashy waterfalls. It’s also the home of the Water Pavilion of Lotus Fragrance, the Twin Pavilion and a tea house, so you’ll want to save some time to fully experience the garden.
Finally, head to the Tower Eye in the heart of the city for the best view of Sydney. With its 360º view of the Sydney skyline, it’s the perfect spot for selfies.
Of course, such famous places attract loads of tourists. So if you’re looking for some quieter sites to see, we’ve got you covered. If you’re near the Harbour Bridge, hop on a ferry and go check out the history of Cockatoo Island.
If you’re interested in street art, the Forgotten Songs installation at Angel Place, is a collaboration between the worlds of art and ornithology, paying homage to 50 bird species that once thrived in Sydney.
There are a couple of off-the-beaten-path museums in Sydney worth exploring. If you’re not squeamish, try the Museum of Human Disease. You’ll get to see a collection of 2,000 human tissue specimens. If the medical world fascinates you, this is the place to go.
On the other hand, if you’re a true crime buff, the Justice & Police Museum lets you explore Sydney’s dark past. Built on the site of the Water Police station, once the city’s busiest, visitors can check out actual 1890s holding cells.
Gay Sydney nightlife
Gay Sydney nightlife, just like the rest of the city, has a lot to offer. The Colombian, one of our must-visit spots has outstanding drag performances and theme nights in a fun, friendly environment.
The Stonewall Hotel has gorgeous go-go boys dancing on Thursday nights. On Sunday, it’s “Polly’s Follies,” a cabaret show now celebrating its 25th year. Whether you want to socialize or dance the night away, check out Stonewall Hotel for non-stop fun.
ARQ Sydney offers two floors of entertainment. Upstairs is The Arena, a venue with the latest sound equipment making it the best place to spend a night clubbing. Downstairs, Vortex offers an intimate space, hosting weekly drag and cabaret shows.
The Imperial Erskineville is a one-stop entertainment center. If you want fine dining, Priscilla, on the ground floor, is open seven days a week for delicious food and tasty cocktails. In the Basement, there’s live performances and every Friday is its high-energy Drag Xtravaganza.
Gay Sydney events
Both Pride and Mardi Gras are the marquee events of gay Sydney. Sydney Pride kicks off its official celebration in June with different parties, an LGBTQIA film festival and events throughout the month.
And if you love partying with thousands of people, Gay Mardi Gras happens around March every year. Running since 1978, it’s one big celebration you won’t want to miss. Billed as one of the largest festivals in the world, Mardi Gras attracts people all over the world. In addition to the massive party and events across Sydney, there are also academic discussions and the Mardi Gras Film Festival celebrating gay Sydney’s long history.
Are you ready for a trip to gay Sydney?