W Hotels x them. Brisbane
The Essential Guide to Queer Brisbane
Brisbane’s cultural scene is uniquely able to transform the city into a truly joyful and accessible place. The city’s varied characters and youth subcultures weave together into a unique, gleeful patchwork.
Brisbane can be as rowdy and inventive as any of Australia’s other eastern states. It’s a place where queer techno parties can happen in bowling clubs and punk gigs go down in suburban cafés. It can just as easily reign it in for some high end shopping, and even serenity when you need a reflective afternoon among friends. In other words, there’s something for everyone here. Though our guide looks at Brisbane through a queer lens, the city is full of gems for anyone, no matter how you identify.
Know Before You Go
1. Plan your days pragmatically! Although Brisbane is well-organized and enticing enough, many of its queer friendly spots lie just outside of the CBD. Traveling to and fro can be annoying, so split up your time sensibly and expect a lot of walking around.
2. Bring a bathing suit and loose fitting clothing. It’s not for nothing that Queensland is home to hordes of surfers and swimmers — there’s also a city beach which is surprisingly perfect for morning swims, and, weirdly, features a plot of land to cultivate organic vegetables.
3. Come with a “no expectations” attitude and be patient. Some of Brisbane’s most precious elements lay just out of sight and are waiting to be discovered.
Neighborhoods to Explore
1. West End
Serving as the primary denomination of youth culture outside of Brisbane’s center, the West End lies on the other side of the river and acts as the most obvious parallel to somewhere like Newtown in Sydney — plenty of vintage stores, quiet eateries and bold young people abound.
2. New Farm
New Farm is a spectacularly outdoorsy locale, with plenty of wide open spaces to chill, picnic and survey Brisbane’s more peaceful side. Historically the domain of Italian migrants, its spatter of delis overlaps nicely with the more recent interest of artists. Mix a tactical calzone purchase with a gallery visit to unwind.
3. Fortitude Valley
Home to Brisbane’s iteration of Chinatown, Fortitude Valley is bustling and remains a central hub of energy both in day and night, being home to some of the city’s most hyperactive LGBTQ+-friendly clubs. More style-focused than somewhere like West End, visiting indie record stores can keep you occupied, European diners remain popular, while the Judith Wright Centre showcases performing arts from contemporary dance to poetry recitals.
Ultimate Access to Brisbane
164c Arthur St
Idyllic and pointedly contemporary, King Arthur put a lot of thought into its presentation and mindful environs — plus, it’s a favourite for locals who’ve graduated from the queer and punk scenes.
569 Brunswick St
Brunswick hotel invites a truly cross-cultural crowd — a genuinely eye-boggling mix of personalities that could not co-exist anywhere else. Although it’s a choice gathering place, its primary appeal lies in its traditional karaoke nights, considered iconic and recognizably Brisbane in all its bravado.
Perched on the side of Brisbane river and well loved by artists all around Australia, GOMA is a genuinely stunning artistic/architectural wonder on its own terms, with its finger on the pulse and a respected curatorial acumen. It’s a huge space, and repeat visits may be necessary.
11 Browning St
Betty’s was once a café, but kept its cosmopolitan punk interior when it transformed into a bar and performance space. There’s very few places like it where LGBTQ+ people can gather in a non-hierarchical environment, and where artists of all stripes can organise community events and initiatives to bring friends together.
1. Loose-fitting shirt
The city is a mostly humid, tropical climate, so do yourself a favor.
Although flip flops are permissible in Brisbane, you’ll need something more appropriate for constant commuting.
3. Point & shoot camera
Brisbane’s mix of naturally occurring phenomena and unique landscapes are too good not to document.
4. Coconut water
Best to keep your electrolytes up in the sultry weather.
Get busy or get beachy in 'Brissy' where power suits are traded for bathing suits as quickly as one can go from sleek skyscrapers to sun-soaked shores