LGBT events, gay clubs and bars and all that's queer in Melbourne


The best gay bars in Melbourne

You would think what with the fanfare surrounding Sydney's annual Mardi Gras festival that the harbour city was the clear ringleader of Australia's gay scene, but Melbourne certainly gives its sibling some decent rivalry. After you're all partied out (for tonight), tick off our five ways to show your pride in Melbourne, or up your 'extra-curricular' game by visiting our top five sex shops.

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Sex and dating

Sex on premises venues in Melbourne

Guys, looking to get some action without navigating Grindr? You can always go to an SOPV. Here are Melbourne’s top five gay saunas and cruise lounges – remember to play safe. While you're at it, check out our list of top gay bars and pick-up bars.

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Gay and lesbian

The best outdoor queer-friendly bars in Melbourne

Summer’s the perfect time for birds of a feather to preen themselves, particularly if you're already out and about getting your Midsumma fix. We've found four outdoor bars for al fresco drinking and perving. Looking to push on? Check out the best gay bars and karaoke spots in Melbourne.

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Gay and lesbian

Hares & Hyenas

Having been in operation for over 20 years, you’d expect Hares & Hyenas to be a well-oiled machine… but this humble-looking bookshop is more like a super power-packing transformer. Bookshelves stuffed with fiction, biographies, humour, photography, erotica, religion, gender, coming out, fanzines, health and educational tomes can be wheeled away so that the room is adapted into a venue with theatre seating, a stage, and a lighting and sound system. Whatever mode it’s in, there’s a fully licensed bar and café, and an exhibition lining the walls at all times. Hares & Hyenas is the project of Rowland Thomson and Crusader Hillis, who met at Melbourne University in 1975 and became partners a few years later. In the 1980s, Hillis owned an art-house video shop in Elwood, while Thomson co-owned Dizzy Spinners on Brunswick Street – an early incarnation of the current Polyester Records. In 1991 they joined forces to open Hares & Hyenas, which moved all over Melbourne before settling in Johnston Street’s Spanish quarter, where they’ve been made to feel welcome. “The changes in 20 years are fairly staggering,” notes Thomson. “People only used to come in wearing sunglasses.” It’s now become a hub for not only the queer community, but anyone interested in socialising in a literary setting. Hares & Hyenas plays host to two book groups, a stitch’n’bitch, ButchFemmeTrans, Rainbow Girls and Rainbow Guys, to name but a few regular meet-ups, and has put on 350 spoken word events. “We also did

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Things to do

Heineken City Shapers Festival

Heineken is inviting Melburnians with a taste for mystery and world travel to a brand new event on Thursday August 4. Heineken City Shapers Festival will see guests boarding an exclusive Heineken train to be transported to a hidden warehouse. Here, they’ll find a dynamic festival space packed with unique experiences that channel the spirit of a number of vibrant cities of the world. Savour food, music and art and entertainment from around the globe. Experience the vibe of a bustling Asian city and a chic New York jazz club. Witness dazzling performances and unexpected reveals. Enjoy a climactic performance from a surprise international act. To get tickets to what’s destined to be one of the biggest parties of 2016, all you have to do is head to the event page at In partnership with the festival, Time Out is activating similar events in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, all of them inspired by the cities of the world that have shaped each Australian city's dining scene, music and nightlife.  Keep up to date with the Heineken City Shapers Festival by following @Heineken_au and the hashtags #CityShapersFestival #OpenYourCity.      

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Sport and fitness Buy tickets

RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride – a rolling bike festival

Experience Victoria as you never have before at the RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride, where you'll ride through Victoria's beautiful scenery from the Grampians to the Great Ocean Road. The annual bike ride has been running for 30 years and is quite possibly the best-kept secret in local travel, for two unbeatable reasons: you can experience great scenery by day and a party atmosphere by night.  Riders can opt to do a three, five or nine-day ride across Victoria. The three-day option (188km) runs along the coast from Apollo Bay, Bellbrae, Queenscliff to Geelong from December 1-4. The five-day course (339km) runs from the historic town of Halls Gap and winds down to the coast past the Twelve Apostles to finish at Apollo Bay from November 26 to December 1. For riders who are in it for the long haul, there's the nine-day ride from Halls Gap to Geelong (527km) from November 26 to December 4. This event is open to riders of all ages (children included), though a reasonable level of fitness is expected. While the rides will cover plenty of distance, full support and service from the RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride will ensure no one gets left behind. Everything is included in the ticket price: the support team will provide three meals a day, toilets, hot showers at the campsites and luggage transfers. Don't have a tent? There are rental options available.  It's not all about the riding either – once you get off the saddle, the evenings will take on a festival atmosphere with live mu

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