Out Down Under - Melbourne  
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Party on the Northside...
Melbourne’s Northside is seen as more indie, artsy and alternative. Within it are lots of Leather/Bear orientated venues, as well as lesbian venues and some of the best Sex on Site venues in Melbourne. The welcoming Glasshouse Hotel is the biggest girl-focused (but not women exclusive) bar and club boasting an amazing range of events that are likely to stimulate your party appetite. Libation and Neverwhere also hugely popular for girls, though again, not exclusive. But if you pop along to All Dragged Up at Neverwhere on a Sunday for one of the most fun and interesting events on the Northside.

If its manly men you’re after then look no further than The Laird Hotel, celebrating 30 years this year, it is a Melbourne institution. Home to Vicbears (Melbourne’s bear organization) and Melbourne Leather Men as well as Melbourne’s newly formed gay rugby group, The Melbourne Chargers. It’s a full time Men only bar, with the legal right to refuse entry to women and it respectfully enforces this every day. It also has great accommodation, but book early.

Sircuit Bar is a relative newbie on the scene but easily the most international in approach to gay bars. It really is a one stop shop for a gay man, blending club, pub, performance, cruising and sex on site venue into one super-hot melting pot for sexy men. It too is men only Monday to Saturday, but all genders are welcome to party there on Sundays.

The recently renovated Peel Hotel is ‘the’ full time gay club of the Northside. It’s a really fun night out and a melting pot of Melbourne’s gay scene. A word of warning though, the Peel has a randomly enforced entry policy regarding girls, and has the legal right to refuse straights and women. This can make going there with your girlfriends and lesbian mates tricky at the best of times.

If you’re looking for somewhere private to go with someone or to meet someone, then you’re definitely on the right side of town. Wet on Wellington is one of the top saunas in the area. Or you could try Club 80, one of the coolest sex on site venues in the world. With its remarkable industrial design it’s a must see, even if you don’t actually have sex there. The venue also hosts monthly events for more extreme interests. The Gatehouse is Melbourne’s best kept secret and is the perfect gay accommodation for dirty leather boys. Each room boasts a brilliant dungeon play space downstairs with a proper mezzanine bedroom upstairs. It’s all conveniently located within walking distance from the clubs in the area.

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Party on the Southside...
While it is really unfair to generalize, the Southside is seen as more twinky, clubbing and fashion orientated. It boasts a strong gay male population and also has many male cruising areas. The gay Southside centre is Commercial Road, conveniently located near Chapel Street – Melbourne’s shopping and café mecca. It’s where you’ll find a bevvy of gay clubs, cafes and shops. The big full time gay clubs here include the twink-favoured Xchange Hotel, and the queen of nightclubs the Market Hotel (one of the few music directed gay clubs, open till 7am). The Market often hosts big name DJs and performers, and is your safest best for a decent night out on any Friday or Saturday night. Also on the street are free entry bars Heaven’s Door Bar (a young fun bar / hosts Asian nights on Wednesdays) and Priscilla’s Bar (free entry).

Melbourne’s best gay news source is Southern Star whose offices are located off Chapel Street. There are lots of great bars located in and off the well-known Chapel Street, and a couple of them host regular gay events. Unusual but very fun Sundays happen at the Railway Hotel – normally a very straight club, from 3pm on Sundays it gets taken over by a sea of gays in an unofficial weekly tradition. It’s a Melbourne gay ‘must do’.

Another place worth checking out is Love Machine which is gay only on Sundays. If you’re feeling frisky, then head over to Inya or the Beat Bookshop (which actually has a cruise lounge) to get inspired by toys, products, the latest gay info and the free gay papers. If you’re feeling even friskier, then head down to the Sex On Site venues 55 Porter Street and just next door Ten Plus (a clothing optional venue and a great place to buy amyl) conveniently located just off Commercial Road and near clubs.

Just 2km down from Commercial Road, you’ll find the GH Hotel, the current palace of Melbourne drag in St Kilda, as well as a stack of great cafes and shops in Carlisle Street, Acland Street and Fitzroy Street. Also in St Kilda is the notorious Prince Of Wales Hotel. The hotel is itself one of the best designer hotels in the state, and is one of the hippest boutique hotels in the world. The downstairs front bar is gay on Monday nights. The Prince Bandroom hosts some of the world’s greatest music talents and DJs, and is also the regular home of Melbourne’s longest running girls’ night Girlbar.

St Kilda’s Fitzroy Street is the location of Melbourne’s gay Pride March which happens in February each year, ending in a huge beach party on St Kilda Beach – a perfect spot for a bit of eye candy in Summer. In the area, Victoria Street is often called ‘Little Vietnam’ and is heaven for lovers of great Asian food. Richmond is also home to a fantastic Melbourne gay pub with the sweetest beer garden ever, DTs Hotel.

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Away from the bright lights...
Victoria’s rural surrounds boast a rich farming history, a relaxation mecca, and excellent wine. Just an hour out of the CBD is the regions renowned spa and wine country, and lush forest areas (Healsville and the Dandenongs) littered with an abundance of exquisite B+Bs. Healsville Animal Sanctuary and William Rickets Sanctuary are really worth seeing.

Bendigo and Ballarat are huge regional centres, and is home to Victoria’s gold mining and founding history. Australia’s largest rural festival, Chillout and its runner up Spring Migration are in Victoria, around Daylesford and Yakandanda, making these regions relatively gay friendly for regional centres. For those more into sea side get aways, you can’t go past towns like Apollo Bay and Inverloch.

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