Out the back of this pub is Shangri-La, the legendary paradise where everyone is happy and time almost stands still. Well, it may not be the Tibetan utopia from Lost Horizon, but it is very easy to lose a whole afternoon in this outdoor courtyard chatting with friends and making new ones, especially on weekends. It’s quite popular on a balmy evening as well, although it can get a bit crowded.
Another outdoor courtyard that’s very popular during the summer. Rustic wooden benches under gum trees that are home to cheeky possums are a great spot to sip a beer in the dappled sunlight. Weekends attract large crowds, and the free barbecues and themed nights help make it a relaxed experience. Frequented mostly by Melbourne’s gay bear and leather fraternities (who aren’t as scary as they sound), it’s pretty free of attitude, which is as it should be.
The Prince, too, has always had a strong connection with the gay community, and its footpath enclosure on Fitzroy Street is the perfect place to sit with friends and a bottle of wine to watch and critique the passing parade with a queer eye. It has it all in summer – location, style, sunshine and street performance. And it’s also a prime viewing spot for Pride March in February.
It’s not just the gay bars that attract a queer crowd; the railway in Windsor is an ‘unofficial’ gay gathering place on a Sunday afternoon, and why not? Its rooftop bar is the perfect location for a bevvie in the sun, and it’s staggering distance from many of its homosexual adherents. It’s also proof that the divide between gay bars and straight bars is crumbling. And that can’t be a bad thing.